I'm an 18-year-old male and, using only the most convenient words, I'm interested in learning more about feminism. I'll be honest, I've always felt a level of hostility towards most feminists. I've found that most of the women I've met have claimed to be feminists, and after talking to them it almost seemed as if I was expected to apologize for being a man. They talked of child birth as if I invented it, tampons as if I forced them to use them, models as if I run the magazines that paste their photos on the covers, their wages as if I was paying them, rapists as if I was one, equality as if I was their oppressor. It always ends on that; equality I mean. They all say that they want equality, but only if it means that they don't have to deal with the downsides. The most obvious example being that I've never heard a woman say that it was unfair that women didn't have to register for the draft. Also, I'm confused as to why these women find it perfectly acceptable to generally put down and make fun of men, but when the tables are turned, the man is a sexist. A pig even. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that I should have the right to insult women, my point is that equality doesn't really seem to be what these women are after.
It does occur to me, however, that most people these days feel the need to be passionate about something, even if they don't fully understand what they are "passionate" about. Getting to the reason I'm writing, I'm curious as to whether or not the women that I have met have possibly missed the point of feminism.
I believe in equality and I believe many women are given a raw deal even in these days of pseudo-enlightenment. But It seems me that men have been generalized and demonized. This has simply been my experience with the few women I've spoken with on the subject. Most seemed ignorant of what they were "fighting" for. But I write to you now because I had to admit that I am ignorant of what I was fighting against.I was generalizing feminists based on these few women. I was hoping that you could help me learn more about feminism. Thank you for your time.
Thanks so much for your incredibly articulate note to Feminist.com.
As I read your note, I agreed with everything that you were saying or at least I understood it. I don't want to generalize, but I can totally understand the situation you are in or your perspective and some of it has to do with age -- not so much actual age but how we enter feminism. I think many people come to feminism thinking that they have to take the extreme position and they think that they have to "tow a feminist line" rather than figure out what feminism means to them.
Over time what changes is that you begin to own your ideas more and realize that you no longer have to generalize. And this certainly is the case with how feminism treats men -- I think that some have confused "women only" with anti male and that's certainly not the case -- or have confused individual men with patriarchy -- they aren't synonymous, but we sometimes get confused and think that they are. The other problem is the one of goals. I remember few years ago being at the Democratic National Convention and when I would pass the protestors every day -- people that I use to think I agreed with -- I would think what exactly are they fighting for -- they are confusing yelling with social change and I honestly couldn't tell the difference between those yelling at the Dems. for being baby killers and those protesting the sanctions on Iraq. It was a great lesson to realize and be clear about what you were fighting for. So I would turn that question back onto the protestors and say "what are your goals."
I hope that helps and I hope that you can stick with feminism long enough to redefine it for yourself and hopefully see the full range.
Good luck -- and thanks again for your thoughtful note