Dear person who is reading this,
Hi. So, you know how sometimes you get into an argument with someone about an issue that you feel very strongly about on a personal level, and since its so close to your heart, you get really worked up about it? Yeah, I just had one those painful, and admittedly heated conversations with someone I hold very dear to my heart. Which makes it sad because I love this person and I cant believe that he feels the way he does…
To give some background, I come from a Pakistani, Muslim family. Not too strict and not as liberal, just your everyday, middle-class household. I first came across the term feminism back when I was in high school and did little to no research on the topic. I had a general idea, but I didn’t care too much for it at the time. As the movement started garnering more and more attention, I realized that a lot of the people that I knew were against it because well, they didn’t like labels or they were more of a humanitarian…even when I didn’t know the extent of the importance of feminism, I found myself disagreeing with these people. I wasn’t confident enough to write long comments as to why I disagreed, because really, I wasn’t well-informed & felt like I didn’t have enough ‘support’ from my other friends. These people who were so against the very simple idea of women (most of whom also happened to be women, I might add) were some of my closest friends. This just further suppressed my feelings on the subject, so I would just keep quiet about it.
Fast forward to now, I go to an American university where I have taken courses that I believe have given me sufficient insight on the matter, at least, to the extent where I can have a decent conversation about it with someone. I finally feel like I understand what feminism and feel myself identifying as a feminist. But, dear God, people are so hateful towards us…because they met one feminist who was ‘anti-men’ or something along those line. They claim how we want more rights, and in addition to that, still want the privileges that they seem to think come with being a women. Like, not paying for dinner, being able to punch a man in the face and have lesser consequences and/or outrage as opposed to if a man were to do the same to a woman, having a chair pulled out for them when they sit, not waiting in the line etc etc.
The thing that really bothers me is that: are THESE the most pressing issues anti-feminists are worried about? Yeah, I mean, its not like women are honor-killed, lynched to death, sold like a piece of jewelry, not being able to vote or drive, amongst a plethora of other things, on a day to day basis all around the globe, right? Now, when I got into an argument today, I got really mad. It got nasty and I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to keep my calm and be civil about it. Sometimes, the ignorance of another can really get to you, I guess. I feel like I should work on my conversation skills, especially about something like feminism, that I hold so close to my heart.
Why is this such a stigma, that a person believes that men and women deserve equal rights? Why are people making this an overly-complex and complicated labyrinth of a concept to grasp?
I believe that feminism is different for everyone…similarly how every other thing is in the world. For example, I feel much more strongly about immigration than an average American. That doesn’t mean that the general, average American hates immigrants. That just means that me being an immigrant, makes me feel more emotionally attached to it. And then there’s also the degree of attachment to it. My parents would feel even more emotionally attached to it because unlike me, they spent almost more than half their lives in their countries before they migrated, in comparison to my 20-something years. So, maybe, if you encounter a ‘feminazi’ (I can literally write an entire blogpost on how derogatory, ignorant & disrespectful that term alone is, btw), who exercises her right to freedom of speech, which is not the same as hate-speech, bullying and/or harassment, and talks about it more enthusiastically than someone else of the same beliefs, maybe, just maybe, she was attacked on a personal level that lead her to feel as strongly as she does. Maybe something in her life happened that has made her more devoted to the cause than you or anyone else. Why is that such a big deal? Why do we have to constantly explain ourselves, give disclaimers as we speak so that we’re not perceived as anti-men or hateful?
Going off on the aforementioned example, similarly, even if someone who is not an Immigrant were to empathize with us, support us and respect us, they could truly never understand how we feel about it. And thats okay. It’s only natural to feel the way both parties do. Its just that if someone has been in a place of privilege, and that privileged life is the only life that they know of, they can never truly understand how it feels to be under-privileged. I think this is why female feminists are always more actively speaking about it. Because how can men ever know what we face? Have they ever felt like they cant dress a particular way in fear of being called horrid names?
There are things that we have to deal with, which are (seemingly) as simple & insignificant as using social media, because, heaven forbid we post one too many selfies with makeup and tiny clothes. And then there are things we deal with that are life-threatening & dark, like not being able to walk back home on our own when its dark, when we fear for our lives & dignity to snatched away if we piss off some neanderthal? When we are killed for being in love and bringing our families dishonor, when we are burnt alive because our husband died, when we are harassed for being us. For being women.
Anti-feminists need to understand that feminism, is not a local or national issue. It is an international one, a human one. To the female anti-feminists, I feel sorry that for you, being able to cut in lines, getting free date meals and having a male provide you the financial support that you don’t deserve, is more important than the hundreds of years of struggle of women who have dedicated their blood, sweat, tears and lives to this movement. I’m sorry that you feel like you’re pressured into saying you’re not feminist because you’re scared of what people might say to you, or think of you. The right path is never the easy path. I hope that you can one day find the courage and stand up for what you believe in. And if you fervently hate feminism, I urge you to do some research. Please, get your facts straight before you start believing false information and misinterpreting us. All we’re trying to do is to create a safe space for us, a space that allows us be ourselves unapologetically.
A proud feminist