It comes as no surprise to anyone, especially to those who have overcome problems in their lifetime, that when something gets in the way of progress, you get pretty angry. I have decided to channel that frustration (creatively) into a blog post on how to make the ideologies of feminism work within our modern society.
First of all, feminism does not work without inclusion. Feminism is not just for one group of women. Feminism is not just for priviliged white women. Feminism is not just for heterosexual women. Feminism is not just for cisgender women. Hell, feminism is not just for women! Feminism is for men. Feminism is, quite obviously, for anyone who identifies with the feminist ideology. By perpetuating the idea that not anyone can be a feminist, that it can only be young straight white women who live in Europe and the USA, we are standing in the way of equality even as we try and pretend that what we’re doing is making progress. We are NOT making progress if not all women will receive the benefits of what we achieve.
The reason why feminism cannot work without inclusion is because feminism is trying to work to make all men and women equal. This doesn’t just mean women who live in the ‘first world’, it means all women everywhere. If feminism is only working to improve the quality of life for white women around the world, then it defeats the point of what we’re trying to achieve because by no means do white women deserve more rights than black women, or Asian women, or other women of colour do. Feminism also cannot work if we keep laboring under the misapprehension that there is such thing as a ‘real woman’ or a ‘true woman.’ These phrases are constantly used as justification for alienating transgender/transsexual women, suggesting that they are ‘not women’ because they were born male, or that they can no longer advocate for feminism because they have changed from being female to male. This is ridiculous. If you identify with the female gender and live as that gender and feel as if you truly are that gender, then you are just as much a woman as a woman who has lived all her life as a female is. Trans women already have to fight to be seen as equals anyway, without having to deal with added stigma from sexism as well.
Secondly, feminism cannot work with the constant backlash it receives for simply being called feminism. Feminism should not have to be changed to ‘equalism’ or ‘humanism’ to be taken as a serious, vital and necessary movement. Many people may be thinking, “Why is it called feminism if it advocates equal rights for both the sexes? Surely that just proves that what feminists actually want is to be superior to men?”
First of all, no. I can’t stress that point any more than that single word, no. Feminism is called feminism because while it advocates equal rights for both the sexes, it is focusing on elevating the oppressed group (women) to the same status as the priviliged group (men.) This means that in order to make sure that people know that it is women that are being oppressed, and not men, it is called feminism in order to call attention to the fact that it is the lack of the rights of the females that we need to address.
Thirdly, feminism will never work if we as society constantly work to destroy advances that feminist organisations make. As with any revolutionary movement, we will of course face obstacles from many who are unlikely to benefit from seeing females as whole and equal people, but this is no reason to give up fighting for such a worthwhile cause. However, what people fail to see is that suppressing feminism and acting as if we can ignore the fact that men and women are still not equal and will continue not to be for some time will be detrimental to all society sooner or later. The straight old white man cannot rule the world forever, and if we keep stopping women (also people of colour, and LGBTQA+ people) from being allowed to hold proper positions of power and to enjoy the freedom that these men have enjoyed for eons, we will find ourselves without capable leaders when the time comes for society to accept that there needs to be change.
To make feminism work for us, we ultimately have to want it. The question is, how many of us do?