anthropomagic

My Thoughts on Feminism

Feminism.

Lately, this seems to be quite a touchy subject. From what I’ve observed, Western society is divided at least in three basic groups on this matter: pro-feminism, anti-feminism, and I-don’t-really-care-about-feminism. Of course, it gets more complicated than that. There are so many different interpretations of what feminist theory is in the first place.

In general, feminism strives for gender equality in every sphere and institution of our social world, from domestic to public, from private to government, and so on. There is, however, issues with how some feminists in our society present their ideas and opinions, which a lot of times create misunderstandings.

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Let’s take a look at one of the most pressing issues feminists are trying to deal with today: patriarchy. In this case, the relevant definition of patriarchy provided by Google is “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it”. This is obviously a simplified definition. A lot of feminists would add that patriarchy also dictates women how they should behave, dress themselves, what they can and cannot do with their bodies, etc. Some feminists stop at this point. These sometimes become “hypocritical, men-hating feminists”, which cause a lot of damage to their own cause. I saw so many posts and memes in social media about the feminist hypocrisy and double standards, like these:main-qimg-b3103cd49f8653c9a2a491f98abf8a2dfm6

It’s definitely true that women like that exist. They often generalize men and end up demonizing them, at the same time creating an image of how a woman should behave (ironically?). This led some women to become anti-feminists and post pictures like these:

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And other people to advertise things like this:

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This is where I get to my thoughts on feminism.

Firstly, it does a poor job appealing specifically to men, when so many feminist double standards are still occurring. I think that “feminism” as a name should be changed, since it essentially excludes men. Remember how I mentioned patriarchy dictates women how to be? Well, it also dictates to men how they should behave towards women and how they should look, how they should act. It is as damaging to women as it is to men. If feminism could re-brand itself to include men, that I think, would help with their cause. I found out from fellow male mates that it is really difficult for them to openly discuss and debate issues regarding feminism, because they are automatically labeled as the “oppressing gender”, so anything they say against feminism, whether actually legitimate or not, is being shunned and ignored. It’s just ridiculous.

My second issue is with the generalization of Western feminism. This is where anthropology comes in play, because whether you believe or not there were and still are some rifts between feminism and anthropology. I read an article by  Marilyn Strathern, called “An Awkward Relationship: The Case of Feminism and Anthropology”, which perfectly describes the antagonisms between feminism and anthropology.

What feminism is trying to do is to unite all women in the world to fight against their oppressed state enforced by patriarchy. Their mistake is to think that a “woman” or “womanhood” is cross-culturally universal. IT’S NOT. This is where anthropology tells us that what it means to be a woman is not going to be the same for everyone in the world. You cannot disregard culture. A lot of Western feminist unfortunately do have and ethnocentric approach and impose their idea of what oppression means to them, on women who do not think the same way.

Here is a powerful poem by Randa Abdel Fattah, which beautifully presents the issue I mentioned above:

http://www.randaabdelfattah.com/randa-abdelfattah-article.asp?ID=16&title=I%20Am%20Not%20Negotiable

And a picture too 🙂

Third-Wave-Feminism-comics

P.S. I am being ravaged by flu, so my writing is probably quite messy. It feels like words are just flowing out of my mind and I can’t catch them to write them down. So annoying, by the way.

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28 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Feminism

  1. I really liked this post. I am more like ‘I don’t care about feminism’. I do believe and support gender equality and I don’t think I have to protest so hard and bad in order to get women established in this society. I mean to say that this is 21st century; anything is possible and women are the source of power in a lot of places then it’s quite absurd to give so so much importance to such a movement. Anyway, that’s my stance — thank you for writing Sessela.

    Have a good day and get well soon. I hope you feel better soon.

    Much love,
    -Naima

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is excellent! It’s such a controversial issue- it’s awesome you put your thoughts into it, and a seriously valid point about how what it means to be oppressed as well as what it means to be a woman is different in every culture and sub-culture. I’ve thought about this issue a lot myself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great! Feminism and the a Western society’s view on it is so complex. I think it’s so fascinating, and I’m glad there have been interesting articles about the topic and that it’s being discussed by the media more often. There are many misconceptions about it, but at least there is more open discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i was a feminist long ago – the reason? i was active during the civil rights movements in the 60’s and i was proud of myself, till i saw an album cover in a record shop – it so totally set me back – please take this in the spirit in which it was intended by John and Yoko Lennon, i mean no offence ..* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_Is_the_Nigger_of_the_World

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  5. jpcharlie@ns.sympatico.ca on said:

    Our dearest Birthday Granddaughter,

    We are so sorry that you are suffering the flu. We wish you a speedy recovery so that you can get on with your writing as you are doing a fantastic job. Congratulations 🙂

    We wish you a very comfortable Birth Day, filled with love, happiness and feeling better. May you have a great and successful year in all of your endeavours.

    We love you always, From Pammy and Howard Granny and Grampy xoxoxoxoxooxoxooxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First of all I think you do a good job of presenting your side here. Nice work!

    I have a daughter, a wife, a mother, etc. and I find myself on the pro-feminist side. Any time I find myself thinking we are headed in the right direction as a society all I have to do is turn on Fox News or listen to right wing radio, or go anywhere on the Internet, and I realize we still have a LONG way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, you’re right. Some of the media (usually the more popular ones) is still providing us with examples of how sad the state of our society is. Thank you so much for your feedback and I’m really glad you liked my piece 🙂

      Like

  7. Ah, the tired women feminism

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  8. This is a really excellent post. I don’t think I have ever read anything from a man or woman as lucid and objective on the subject. You can really see it from the man’s perspective as well as the non-Western woman, like only an anthropologist could! Even though I agree that Western women are ethnocentric, I think all of the same that women around the world should disinherit themselves of really oppressive cultures and regimes which dress them in burkas which gives women rickets, force them into marriages as children, deprive them of education and mutilate their genitalia. The idea that we or anyone should tolerate those injustices because of cultural differences (and I’m not saying you think that, but if one did), should be examined and compared with past horrible things like Sati and Japanese women binding their feet. Those were “tradition” and the women are MUCH happier without. Women need to focus on important things like human rights, which affects all people, and unfortunately the most vulnerable, often women and girls. Those kinds of problems, including women/girls used as human shields, or trafficked, are what really matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your feedback!
      You’re completely right when it comes to traditions and cultural behaviors that out there harming women. The first and foremost thing to do is ask these women what they think about their practices. Do they think they’re harmful? Or are they totally fine with it? Does it make them identify as women? Or do they feel oppressed by it? Fortunately, there are feminists out there who are taking these things in mind before they make a judgement. And unfortunately sometimes they don’t. These are the times when it’s important to remind them about cultural relativism 🙂

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      • I agree with you. We do have to be sensitive and respectful. I understand how Arab women who are used to wearing the veil would be offended by Westerners even if they themselves might rather not wear the veil bc it is presumptuous of Westerners to say what they should or shouldn’t wear and to judge their culture. Unfortunately, so many women and girls don’t/can’t speak up. And it’s not only in the non-West. In the US we should be speaking out against the fashion industry starving models bc the low body mass projects a terrible self image for teenagers, women, and ultimately a lot of the models themselves will become sick from it. Another “weird” example would be Japan and the “little girlness” trend (kawaii, cosplay, Alice in Wonderland), On the one hand, it’s all extremely cute. It goes hand in hand w. japanese manga. Somehow it fits w Japanese culture. yet you can’t help wondering about its influence/impact w pedophilia. Yet I think pedophilia is a much bigger problem in England than in Japan. Great talking to you. You are an inspiration to your generation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much 🙂 Great talking to you too! I’ll make sure to visit your blog and explore more from you.

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  9. #IntersectionalFeminism new school i havent written yet 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

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  10. What I find interesting is if you go back to the Middle Ages when the Celtics were still somewhat tribal, you’ll find that it is priestesses who had the power, not priests. This is a Western cultural tribe, not Eastern. Could it be that we (women) have relinquished our power over to men willing?

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  11. Very interesting debate and although I am in no position to truely and respectfully create a discussion in the matter, there is certainly still a cultural divide on the subject and I often feel that both feminism and other forms of prejudice speak more about human nature and society more than anything else. Now don’t get me misconstruded as making it sound like prejudice is natural, i’m merely stating that as long as there is a group of individuals who have for whatever reason been led to believe a certain particular way of treating people in whatever way is natural, it is hard but not impossible to change that line of thought, it’s even harder for a whole society or religous culture. I definitly feel that some cultures have improved and there is no denying that many have moved away from the housewife approach.

    As for the above commentor, I believe that has more to do with the constant flux and change of cultures in regards to history, such as the influence of the Roman Empire and eventually the rise of Christianity. Certainly not due to women willingly relinquishing their power to men. Although the Celts may have been a heavily Matriarchal Society many other cultures were not at the time.
    This is my conjecture though but personally I don’t think it had anything to do with relinquishing power to another set of people but more to do with historical culture shifts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would definitely agree that the religion, such as Christianity, had a great impact on culture and how women were perceived. In each culture shift, historically we saw women’s situation change. The change of kinship to nuclear families, the Industrial Revolution, and especially World War II. Today I think we certainly are having a cultural shift at least across the Western societies. It might just be the beginning, it might be the middle, it might fail or it might change the way society sees women and feminism.
      Thank you very much for your comment. It’s much appreciated 🙂

      Like

  12. Very interesting debate and although I am in no position to truly and respectfully create a discussion in the matter, there is certainly still a cultural divide on the subject and I often feel that both feminism and other forms of prejudice speak more about human nature and society more than anything else. Now don’t get me misconstrued as making it sound like prejudice is natural, I’m merely stating that as long as there is a group of individuals who have for whatever reason been led to believe a certain particular way of treating people in whatever way is natural, it is hard but not impossible to change that line of thought. I definitely feel that some cultures have improved and there is no denying that some cultures have moved away from the housewife approach.

    As for the above commenter, I believe that has more to do with the constant flux and change of cultures in regards to history, such as the influence of the Roman Empire and eventually the rise of Christianity. Certainly not due to women willingly relinquishing their power to men. Although the Celts may have been a heavily Matriarchal Society many other cultures were not at the time.
    That is my conjecture however and my belief is it has more to do with cultural and religious shifts in history.

    Like

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