Tag Archives: womens rights

Women against Feminism- Why is this even a thing?

This is a collection of young women taking selfies with bits of paper proclaiming the reasons why they don’t need the very thing that has allowed them, among other things, the freedom to express their views. It’s not the only website dedicated to the idea.

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I’d love to address each and every post on this website. I’d like to write to each of these (mostly) young women who’ve submitted a picture. I don’t want to verbally bash them for their views; I’d like to open a dialogue and ask them what they think feminism is. Because as far as I can tell- they don’t really know.

“I don’t need feminism because I don’t want my daughters growing up around slutty feminists”

Really? Gosh, I do. “Slutty” isn’t contagious and is a pretty subjective term and really- a woman who has sex with whoever she wants to is okay by me. Who am I to tell anyone how they can use their body? A woman who isn’t afraid to openly reject society’s rule that says women who sleep around are “slutty” but men who do the same are just doing what men do- yeah, I’m fine raising my daughters around women like that. I want my daughters to grow up and have healthy, fantastic sex lives. I want them to do so safely, of course, and confidently. What I don’t want is for them feel inhibited by a society that shames women for enjoying their sexuality. So, “slutty feminists”, come at me! I need you to influence my kids!

“I don’t need feminism because I want my children to respect women and men”

Yep. Nope. Hang on, what? Ok this is one of those times where you can see the young lady behind this comment isn’t very informed about feminism. I’m not all that good about remembering the goals of each wave of feminism but I’m pretty damn sure that “not respecting men and/or women” isn’t  on the list.  Feminism recognises that for equality to be achieved, women must be given the same rights, opportunities and advantages that men already have. Disrespecting anyone on the basis of gender goes against this core belief.

“I don’t need feminism because it’s hurting men and not helping women”

In America, the FBI had to how to considerable pressure to change the definition of rape so that it also encompassed male victims.  Feminists did that. 

These days, men are able to be the stay-home parent or to work different hours around their partners, allowing them to be hands on parents. There is even such a thing as paternity leave. Thanks, Feminism.

There are other examples but the key point is that feminism rejects the common stereotypes placed on men in a patriarchal society and allows men to move away from arbitrary gender roles, which seems pretty beneficial to me, both to men and to women. I can honestly say I don’t understand how this does not help women.

“Children are dying every day because their parents can’t afford treatment- tell me again about your birth control crisis #priorities #idontneedfeminism”

I could be facetious and point out that denying women birth control may well lead to more children whose parents can’t afford to adequately care for them but the simple fact here that this is nothing but a Strawman argument. Feminists don’t want children to die for the sake of accessing birth control.

“I don’t need feminism because I love being true women![sic] I love cook[sic] for my men and clean[sic] house! #truewomen”

Well, forgive me for being a great, big fake woman. I freaking hate cleaning. I love cooking but there are times I don’t cook purely because I don’t want to clean up afterwards. Seriously, one of the bonuses of marriage (well, my marriage) is the deal we have- if I cook, he does the clean up. The general cleaning we ignore for as long as possible, or bribe the kids to do some of it and split the rest. I thought that’s what everyone did, but apparently not. If you really like to clean and cook for your men, then be my guest. Seriously, if cleaning and cooking floats your boat, you should go for it. 

You can still be a feminist who believes men and women should have equal rights and opportunities while you indulge your passion for cooking and cleaning for your men. You can even not like those things and still be  #truewomen because I don’t think womanhood is dictated by how much you like to cook and clean and more than feminism is defined by how little housework you do.

“I am against Modern Western feminism because the pay gap is a myth, the war on rape culture is moot because good men don’t rape and bad men don’t care and disarming women doesn’t help. Modern feminists care more about…Slut Shame than the rape and murder of Muslim women every day”

Hmmm. The Gender Pay Gap in Australia isn’t a myth. On average, women earn 17.5% less than their male counterparts here.

The war on rape culture is moot because good men don’t rape. That doesn’t add up. I can think of a few examples here but the one that immediately springs to mind is those two young up and coming football players and good students that raped that young woman in Steubenville, Ohio. Only bad men commit rape, right? So why was it that reporters on CNN and many others appeared to support them, openly sympathising with and grieving for these young men who were convicted of raping a young woman based on numerous photos and posts to social media depicting the various assaults they made on her. They wondered openly at the impact on their lives from being placed on the sex offender register without any thought for the lasting impact on the life of the victim. The people of Steubenville were divided by the case, with many blaming the victim for her attack. That right there is Rape Culture and it is anything but a moot point.

Modern feminists care about slut shaming because we are sick and tired of being told how we can and cannot use our bodies and being told that to embrace our sexuality is shameful. Caring about slut shaming does not preclude one from also caring about the rape and murder of Muslim women. In fact, I’m not keen on the rape and murder of any woman. Or anyone else, for that matter. The issue of women’s roles in a Muslim society is a varied and complex one and while there are certainly valid concerns within some facets of Islam there are also growing numbers of Muslim women at the forefront of their own feminist movement.

“I don’t need modern feminism because I…Don’t need others to fight my battles for me…Believe in earning things for myself…Believe in proving I am worthy of what I want and not expecting them to be handed to me because I feel entitled.”

It’s great that this woman feels empowered enough to fight her own battles. Where did that empowerment come from?

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I don’t know anything about the author of these comments. I don’t know what issues she has faced in her life. What I do know is that there are big issues facing women in our society; from the Gender Pay Gap to a culture of victim blaming and discrimination- none of these are issues I’d like to take on by myself.

Feminism isn’t about special entitlements for women- it’s about having the same entitlements as men.

“I don’t need feminism B/C men are not our enemy. They are our fathers, sons + brothers. Belittling them helps no one.”

Men as a group should absolutely not be regarded enemies and belittling them does not help anyone. I absolutely agree with that. Belittling men and making them the enemy is something that the patriarchy does extremely well. Pigeon-holing men into narrow definitions of masculinity, blaming poor behaviour or habits on being male, expecting men to be incompetent in areas like care-giving or cleaning and mistreating men who don’t conform to these stereotypes are actions that are harmful to everyone. Feminism does benefit men- it’s misandry, the hatred, contempt and sometimes desired subjugation of men, that regards men as the enemy and seeks to belittle.

Does the feminist movement need to take responsibility for this backlash against feminism? Are some feminists too vocal, taking things too far? I don’t know for certain, but I really don’t think so. Feminism is still needed and still relevant.  Feminism, like anything else, has been misused and corrupted by people seeking their own ends. There is a minority claiming to be feminists while pushing an agenda that is thinly disguised (if at all) misandry. There are also vocal men’s rights groups who misrepresent feminism and identify it as a hateful and damaging movement. It’s important to understand what feminism is before rejecting it; it’s important to acknowledge where the rights and privileges we enjoy today have come from. It’s not about hairy legs and man hating. It’s not about refusing to cook or demanding special privileges. 

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I’m linking up with Musings of the Misguided

for The Lounge


Digital Parents Blog Carnival

– See more at: http://digitalparents.com.au/page/blog-carnival#sthash.GLrUKVjA.dpuf

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Yes, all women.

When I was in 6th grade, I was walking home from school when a man got out of his car and told me he’d drive me home. I refused, he insisted and said we could just go for a short drive. Again, I said no. He came towards me and I ducked around him and ran. My parents called the police and I told them what had happened. From details I gave, they were able to identify him. I overheard the policeman tell my dad he was a “rock spider” who liked young girls. It was years before I knew what that actually meant. A few years later, on a main road in broad daylight, I was talking to a friend when a boy I’d known in primary school came past and grabbed me on the bottom. I made it clear he was not welcome to do so then tried to finish my conversation. He came past again and this time grabbed at my breasts. I was so angry I swung my hand out and slapped at him. He responded by hitting me in the face, which sent me flying back into a phone booth, and calling me a bitch.

During high school I would catch a bus each day. I waited at the same bus stop every morning. It was opposite a park. Each morning as I waited, the same man would drive past. He would slow down, staring, licking his lips and making lewd gestures. Every day. Some days I’d walk to the stop before or after- he’d still show up. Then one day I hid in the bushes in the park and waited for him to drive past. I did this for a week before he started stopping and waiting. A few times I missed my bus rather than walk past his car. Another time I ran past him to wave the bus down. I was so terrified of him that I would often just walk 45 minutes to school. I told no one because I couldn’t explain what he was doing- I couldn’t articulate that he wasn’t just looking at me and I was too embarrassed and ashamed to try to tell my parents.

When I was a bit older, I went to some under 18s dance parties. Walking through the crowd, boys would grab and grope at you with no warning or permission. I don’t even remember feeling upset by it- just irritated. It was just what happened, it was accepted, it was the norm. It makes me mad to think on it now.

During my teens, sexual assault and harassment were ridiculously commonplace. I was grabbed at many times. I was sworn at and verbally abused for rejecting this kind of advance. Once I was threatened with a weapon for not wanting to engage in sexual acts with someone.

Another time, I had too much to drink at a party and was sick. I was laying down when a boy came over and took the opportunity to shove his hands down my top and tried to shove them down my pants before my boyfriend came back and stopped him- I was incapable of stopping him myself.

In my early twenties, I was waiting for a bus with my daughter, who was about 3. A man stopped his car and got out. He started telling me I was beautiful and that I should let him drive me wherever I wanted to go. He made any number of remarks about my clothes, my body, my hair. He was insistent I get in the car with him and my daughter. I put myself between him and her and continually rejected him. I told him I was meeting someone on the bus, I had plans, I wasn’t interested. He persisted and started to stand closer, in my personal space. I saw the bus coming and told him my husband would be meeting me on the bus- he started to back off a little, you know, once he realised that he might be edging in on the property of another man. As the bus neared, I picked up my child and told him what I thought of him as I climbed the stairs. I was shaking with fear and rage by then.

These experience are 100% true and my own. They are also just a few of the experiences I’ve had (the ones I’m comfortable sharing, I guess) and they are not uncommon. I have written this to contribute to #yesallwomen which started on twitter in response to the UCSB shootings, perpetrated by a man filled with hatred for, and rage toward, women. It had led to women around the world sharing their experiences in an effort to break the silence and acknowledge the undercurrent of misogyny present all around the globe.

I don’t think I know any women who haven’t experienced some form of sexism, sexual harassment, sexual assault or violence at the hands of a man. We are taught to modify so much of ourselves to minimise the risk of harm from men- Don’t walk home alone at night. Don’t wear anything suggestive. Don’t give your opinion. All these strategies to stop us from being raped or assaulted, yet it is estimated that one in five women will be sexually assaulted and here in Australia, a woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence.

In response to the #yesallwomen movement, there has been a #notallmen hashtag. This misses the point. Of course not all men will be violent, sexist or sexually abusive. Of course they are not. I know; I’m married to an excellent man who has never done any of these things and he is far from alone in the catalogue of excellent men that I know. The thing is- while not all men are perpetrators of these things, all women are, at some point, the victims of this behaviour, this abuse. From being cat-called in the street to being physically attacked, there is a spectrum of assaults that we are all at some point subjected to. So while I wholeheartedly acknowledge that not all men are responsible for these things, I want to reiterate what women around the world are saying- All women experience these things, and it’s got to change. Yes, all women.

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*Sigh* It’s still happening.

Today, I read an article about a mother ejected from Granville RSL Club for breastfeeding her 2 month old infant in the lounge area. Naturally, management of this club have claimed that no one remembers this incident occurring and have suggested that the mother, Mrs Chan, somehow misunderstood what was said to her.

I understand this is a case of “We didn’t say that, no one remembers saying that, but if we did say something (that we can’t remember saying) it wasn’t that, she misunderstood” 

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This would be a good opportunity for the club to educate all staff about the legal rights of breastfeeding mothers, especially considering the family-oriented facilities offered by such clubs- think kid’s menus complete with crayons and colouring in sheets, highchairs, baby change facilities and play areas.

The article states that this was Mrs Chan’s first experience of breastfeeding in a public place and I’m so disgusted that this has been done to her. I truly hope it doesn’t impede her from feeding wherever she needs to in future. See how I phrased that? Wherever she needs to. Mothers don’t breastfeed their babies for the hell of it. You feed a baby because they are hungry and need to be fed. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies because it is easily digested as well as being full of appropriate nutrients and antibodies. Because it’s so easily digested, and their stomachs are so tiny, they need to be fed often. At 2 months old, my daughter was still feeding every hour or two. If I couldn’t feed in public, I couldn’t leave the house. I imagine Mrs Chan is in a similar position.

Reading the comments on this article, it was disappointing to note that there are still people out there who feel their sensibilities are more important than the needs of a baby. Calls for mothers to consider how random strangers might feel seeing them feed their children, to express and only bottle feed in public, to feed babies in toilets or to simply remain home until the child is weaned. Yet again, I’ll address these.

If you are uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeed a child:

You are likely a victim of what the media and pop culture in general has done with our perceptions of women’s bodies. Breasts are constantly sexualised. Breasts are on display to sell products, clothes, food. Sex sells and yet again, there is a price and in this case, the normal act of feeding a baby is now seen as sexual and therefore wrong (One commenter even phrased it as sucking on the mother’s naked body!) Is this your fault? No, not really. Sexualised advertising is everywhere. However, this is your issue. It’s not up to the nursing mother to make you feel comfortable with how she feeds her child, whether it’s breast, bottle or whatever. She has no obligation to consider what a stranger may think or feel about what she is doing. What she is doing is perfectly natural and protected by state and federal law. Therefore, the solution is a simple one. Stop looking. Move away. Carry on with your life. You don’t actually have to be comfortable or happy with the way a woman feeds her child as frankly, it’s none of your business.

If you think mothers should express and bottle feed for your comfort:

See above. Also, just a little bit of information for you. Did you know that some breastfed babies never take a bottle? They don’t like them, they don’t want them and they just won’t budge on that. And introducing bottles early to the breastfed baby can cause other problems like nipple confusion and poor latch.

Expressing doesn’t work for everyone. A mother can have plenty of milk and still struggle to express more than a few mls. I know, because I am one of them. I own 2 manual pump and 3 different electric pumps. I have learned to hand express. I have tried every technique there is and I cannot express more than about 40mls. Even that can take up to 30 minutes to do. Why? Because a pump is not my baby. Mechanically, it’s not just a matter of suction. A baby is far more efficient at extracting milk that a plastic shield, for one thing. The other factor is hormonal. For a milk letdown to occur, the mother’s body releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and bonding.

I don’t love my breast pumps. I don’t feel a powerful bond with them either.

So to all the “Just express a bottle!” crowd, I say this- No. Not only do I not have to, I can’t.

To those wondering why mothers don’t simply breastfeed in the toilets:

Seriously? Do I even have to ask the question? Judging by what I’ve read, I guess I do.

Do you ever eat your meals in the toilets?

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I’ve known and seen some people with some seriously questionable table manners. I’m talking grown adults who chew with their mouths open and talk with their mouths full and have bits of food spraying everywhere. Seeing someone eat like that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I find it off putting. So I don’t look. I don’t insist they take their meals perched on a toilet seat.

For those of you who think a mother should stay home until the child is weaned:

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. Who can stay home for 2 years? Who wants to? No matter how long you choose to breastfeed, this should not (and legally does not) preclude you from being an active member of society. To say that a woman should not enjoy a meal at a club, go shopping, go for a swim at the local pool or a walk at the park because she might need to feed her baby is ridiculous and discriminatory. Why should a woman stay home, potentially for years, in case she offends someone by feeding her child? Mums who feed in public are inadvertently doing a community service- they are helping to normalise breast feeding by making it commonplace.

However you choose to feed, covered or uncovered, in a private room or in the open, via bottle or breast- do it because it works for you. Don’t do it because some narrow minded, ignorant people are trying to shame you into feeding your baby in a way that suits them. It’s your right to feed your baby wherever you need to. And if you are discriminated against- take it further. Don’t accept it. It’s not acceptable and it’s not legal. There is information about lodging complaints here.

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