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Why We Need Feminism

Why We Need Feminism

It’s a well-known fact that being a man – whether you are
gay, straight, asexual, or transgender – affords you more opportunities and
privileges than those that women are afforded. No matter how much a person may
try to argue that women are better off than they were in previous decades,
gender inequality still persists. I identify as a feminist, but I am willing to
admit that my feminist perspective is limited because I am not a woman enduring
those daily struggles that all women endure. I see these issues from my limited
vantage point, but I still want to participate in this dialogue and help erase
gender inequality.

On
September 21st, Emma Watson delivered a powerful speech to the UN in
regards to creating a dialogue between men and women over the issue of gender
inequality. Though the speech was met with overwhelming acclaim, there were
still detractors who added their own colorful commentary. Many 4chan users saw
a countdown to the day when nude photos of Watson would be released. The countdown
website was proven to be a hoax, but the sexual/violent threats many users made
against Watson were still, as Vox writer Amanda Taub noted, threats. More
recently, Cathy Young, a contributing editor to Reason magazine, wrote a piece for Time on the gender inequality inherent in feminism (she argues that
feminism doesn’t focus enough on men’s issues). These reactions add to a
cultural and societal rhetoric that highlight the main points of Watson’s
speech: feminism is both a taboo subject that has been stigmatized and a
necessary topic that needs to be discussed between all genders.

The
problems that arise when the word “feminism” comes to mind is that many people
are still under the misguided notion that feminism is a movement exclusively
composed of “man-hating” women. Feminism is a complex term composed of multiple
perspectives. There is no one way to be a feminist, yet 4chan users seem to
think it is a reductive movement that can be eliminated with leaked nude
photos, while Young argues that it should be a movement that focuses less on
women and more on men.

These
perspectives are exacerbated by groups/sites like Why-We-Don’t-Need-Feminism
and Women Against Feminism, which try to attack feminism by reducing it down to
one-sentence statements. I may not have the authority to criticize people’s
personal beliefs, but I am still able to criticize the fact that these
generalizations try to reduce feminism to an “us vs. them” movement. These
attacks on feminism do not do justice to the broad range of feminist ideologies
that exist in various ways, shapes, and forms.

The only
generalization that can definitively be made is the one that Watson and
countless journalists (including the aforementioned Amanda Taub) have made: the
goal of feminism is to combat gender inequality and ensure that all genders
have equal rights, privileges, and opportunities. Feminism is necessary because
inequality is rampant in society, media, and basic language. Being male does
not prevent you from being a feminist.  Everyone
is invited to combat the social biases and prejudices that endorse the idea that
one gender is inferior to another. Not everyone may understand what it means to
be a woman, but everyone has the opportunity to ensure that being a woman does
not get equated with being a weaker gender.

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