Feminism has never looked more complicated.
Tangles born from a combination of laughable commentary in the ever-dodgy world of social media, meeting outrage on those same channels has my poor brain in knots.
Before I use this space to undo my angst, I’ll explain what the cringe-inducing commentary is and where it’s originating from.
Via a tumblr page titled Women Against Feminism, participants, who in many cases look a lot like the scantily clad tots at the Center of Gravity festival, share pictures of themselves holding write-ups about why they aren’t feminists.
“I don’t need feminism because my boyfriend treats me right” is a popular post. It’s popular because it’s stupid, of course. And the Internet loves stupid.
This is one of my favourites, however: “I believe if a man says I’m pretty he’s not saying I’m a piece of meat. It’s a compliment for goodness sake.”
Still idiotic, but there are some interesting nuances worth exploring.
Denouncing compliments isn’t always the best way forward. Realistically, the superficial ones do tend to wane in one’s later years. Even the “compliments” that make their recipients feel threatened and small will ultimately be offered with less frequency as time marches on.
Why not be all #YOLO about it? (Dear sensibly hashtag averse people, that means You Only Live Once.)
Regardless of the way they’re worded, the general theme of the page is that these women understand feminism to be the advancement of one sex over the other and they’re taking an online stand in opposition.
Of course, feminism at its core has everything to do with equality, which even the most obtuse person should realize isn’t applied evenly.
I mean, sure, in my day-to-day life I don’t see a lot of injustices or incidents where my sex limits my opportunities. But, do I think my personal experience is the only experience?
Do I think the women I worked with when I lived abroad got the same shake as my male counterparts?
So, I happily call myself a feminist for them and the countless other women who don’t have it as easy as I do.
This is really an opportunity to thank Joan of Arc that I don’t live in a vacuum and that my selfishness has boundaries.
It’s also a chance to get all frothy with rage, which is the route many others have chosen. Even some cats. Seriously, there’s a page where cats mock these women.
A few posts poking fun at the site are amusing, but as with everything online, the avalanche of responses from anonymous writers creates absolute discomfort and muddies the mind. After reading a few dozen, I wanted to write my own essay denouncing feminism, cats, omelettes… just about anything.
What I’d rather do now that I’ve regained my presence of mind, however, is revisit the conversation.
A growing number of women are clearly feeling at odds with the concept of feminism and it’s not mystifying. There are times when feminist battle cries become a bit tiresome.
Not all crimes against women are motivated by misogyny, as I’ve learned through the many hours logged in Kelowna courtrooms.
Nor is makeup an attack on equality—even when it’s applied as thick as a mask.
But most of us understand those simple points.
So for those women who don’t, for those women who think that being a feminist is the pretty version of being an oppressor, it’s time to open our arms and untangle this mess.
Let’s just try to keep it offline.