I met up with an old college friend of mine today. We were friends before I was anti-establishment and she, pro-military, before I was a feminist atheist, and she, a spiritual, bohemian artist. It is often the people you know, before you were anybody, or had found your place in the world, who remain with you throughout life, which is why, despite our radical differences, we’ve been friends all these years.I had an interesting conversation with her regarding feminism today. She expressed dislike of feminism and said, “Ugh god no, I’m not a feminist!” And I asked her, “why not?” And she claimed she wasn’t. This was the conversation that followed.

Justin to me: I’m not a feminist.

Me: Do you believe in educational opportunities for women?

Justin: Yes.

Me: Do you believe in freedom of movement and more independence for women?

Justin: Yes.

Me: Do you believe that a woman’s dress should not be dictated by whether it violates the honour of her father or husband, because her dress is not another person’s honour?

Justin: Yes.

Me: Do you believe in career opportunities for women?

Justin: Yes.

Me: Do you believe women have the right to decide if they want to marry, when they marry, or whom they marry?

Justin: Yes, definitely!

Me: Do you believe that marriage, in many ways, actually restricts the independence and freedom of women?

Justin: A little bit, yes.

Me: Do you feel a woman should be able to study, work, travel the city, without fear of sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of her gender?

Justin: Yes.

Me: Congratulations! You’re a feminist!

Its interesting to note that after this conversation, Justin explained that she didn’t want to be one of those women screeching on and on about how men are horrible and how you hate men. I often forget how often, and how easily, feminist women are stereotyped as “man-haters” or my personal favorite, “man-hating lesbians”. What’s even more amusing is that feminism isn’t a system that promotes inequality of the sexes, it strives to bring a balance between the genders, removing men from their disadvantaged, male privilege, women from their inferior chattel status, and putting them both on equal footing. It would stand to reason that any attempts to discredit feminism can only stem from a desire of male privilege prevailing. After all, many women do prefer to be “taken care of” in a patriarchal system. (What, you thought only men were misogynists? Some of the biggest misogynists I know are women.)

The kind of thinking that would lead to many women who would actually serve as excellent feminist role models viewing feminism with contempt is best illustrated by a hasty illustration, courtesy of Shumaila from Mellow Creativity. Originally made for an article she contributed to my final year project, I’ve been itching for the chance to share it.

Image

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