By Guest Blogger Nicole Collet
Since when did feminism become such an awful word?
I write feminist posts on my blog. But I never, ever use that word. Why? Because if I use it, many readers will immediately get into defensive mode and my message will be lost. People in defensive mode turn blind and deaf to reason. They will defend their point of view fiercely, and nothing else will matter besides proving themselves right.
I have learned to avoid the word feminism after sending out a tweet that used it as a hashtag. I tweeted the photo of a couple holding hands with my text embedded in it: “Feminism is not about hating men. It’s about loving women. Equal rights lead to harmony. Feminism = humanism.” I’ve got quite a few indignant replies. Did I say something wrong?
One guy derisively dismissed what I wrote (it wasn’t “feminist” according to him because feminism was not about equality but rather about privileges to women). One girl sent me a feminist flyer that mentioned something about “freeing men from the straightjacket of masculinity.” She found it ridiculous that feminists wouldn’t even leave masculinity alone. I politely offered that “the straightjacket of masculinity” probably referred to the social role imposed to men by forcing them to be always strong—a heavy burden to carry as I pointed out. In the end, the girl agreed with me and apologized, telling me she was on guard after butting heads with a radical feminist. We had a nice exchange after that.
So what’s the deal with feminism?
Women have suffered repression from centuries since the day we switched from a collaborative matriarchal society to a dominant patriarchal society. What triggered the switch was the settling down of nomad tribes and the resulting establishment of private property. From then on, it was crucial to keep women under control to make sure they didn’t generate illegitimate heirs.
Then came the fight for women’s rights and feminism was born. It was naturally an extreme movement because that’s human nature. When you are in one extreme, you tend to go to the other extreme until finding a middle term. Let me exemplify: if you have spent your life being unable to say no to people, once you decide to change, the only word coming out of your mouth for a good while will be no-no-no. It’s a learning process and also a defense mechanism to avoid the old unwanted pattern.
You have women under repression for centuries, and when they finally react, it’s going to be an extreme reaction. That doesn’t mean extremism is desirable. I’m mentioning it not to defend feminist extremism but to show it is understandable. Not all feminists, however, are extremists. And definitely feminism is not about hating men. On the contrary—it’s about loving men enough to want them out of that fabricated “straightjacket of masculinity.”
I recently watched a brilliant Ted Talk given by violence expert and social theorist Jackson Katz entitled “Violence against women: it’s a men’s issue,” which I highly recommend. Katz explains that when you define violence against women as “a women’s issue,” you remove the perpetrators from the picture, whereas they are the problem that needs to be addressed. Most violence in the world is perpetrated by men. Why is that? How can we change this situation? Those are the questions that need to be asked. Focusing on women alone won’t solve anything. When you address how society produces violent men through the media, entertainment, governments and institutions, you can address solutions to the problem. Let’s remember that most children and men subjected to violence are victims of the violence perpetrated by men.Men are conditioned to be tough soldiers and suppress their emotions (think empathy) whether they go to war or not. The video of Katz’s talk on YouTube triggered a deluge of enraged comments: its page became a battleground between women applauding Katz’s initiative,and men cursing him and the women who agreed with his message.
This is not about a war of genders, though, or at least it shouldn’t be. Those guys don’t realize how blind they are. They react according to a very human and flawed behavior pattern of wanting to “win” an argument at all costs. When you embrace that kind of behavior, you miss the chance to grow as a human being because you close the door to new ideas and to empathy, which is the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. You limit yourself and the riches of your own humanity.
That applies to both men and women—the trolls lurking on that page and any extremist feminist out there. Men and women are equally victims in this patriarchal system that sends men to useless wars (forget about “justice,” it’s all for economic gain) and has one in four women being sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
That needs to change.
Nicole Collet is a Brazilian-born writer and translator with degrees in journalism and cultural management. She has edited and translated works from authors as diverse as Ken Follett, Nora Roberts and Machiavelli. Nicole’s writing explores why people fall in love and what it takes for them to stay in love. Her plots invite readers to reflect on love in different ways, merging story with psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, music, and literature. Her debut novel RED: A Love Story received over two million hits on Wattpad and was released by Something Or Other Publishing in 2016. It was endorsed by Debra Pickett, former columnist of The Chicago Sun-Times and contributor to CNN, as “an intriguing first novel—a thinking woman’s Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Author website: http://www.nicolecollet.com