If you have even a smidgen of Internet prowess, there is a good chance, by now, you've heard that "It" girl, Shailene Woodley, doesn't identify as a feminist. Her reason? She loves men.
Suddenly, feminists don't love men.
This is definitely news to me and will be pretty interesting news to my past three boyfriends. I mean, my love life has really not been on the up and up as of late, but it's definitely NOT because of my lack of interest in the opposite sex. I like guys a lot -- like a lot, a lot. I also happen to be a pretty intense feminist.
Let me be clear: This is not about Shailene Woodley and I’m not hating on her. I just think she’s been misinformed about the feminist movement, and she’s certainly not the only one.
Unlike many, however, her opinion on the matter is actually heard. In a way, her interview with Time is actually a blessing in disguise; it made me realize that something needs to be done about this totally incorrect stigma attached to feminism.
People need to understand that feminism is not a movement against men. I repeat: Feminism is not a movement against men -- not at all, not even a teeny, tiny bit. It's also not about taking men down in order to raise women up and it's not about hating men in general.
I mean, I do understand where that stigma came from. Every group has a vocal minority that they have to deal with, like a mosquito buzzing in your ear that just won't go away. In feminism, that mosquito is the misandrist.
I'm going to wager that, considering spell check doesn't even recognize the word, you won't either. Let me explain: Misandry is the hatred of men. Some misandrists may be feminists, but feminism has nothing to do with misandry.
Feminism is a multi-faceted movement. It is as nuanced as it is broad, but there is one thing for absolute certain: Misandry has no place in feminism and it never will.
With all that said and done, I feel slightly more comfortable explaining that feminism is very much about dismantling the patriarchy. "But you just said it's not about bringing down men!" Settle down, that is what I said, and it's still true. Dismantling the patriarchy is not fancy talk for taking down all the men in power; don't you worry.
Dismantle: to take apart.
Patriarchy: a hierarchy in which men are at the top.
We live in a patriarchy; don't tell me that isn’t true. Sure, it's far less obvious than it was 50 years ago (thanks for that one, feminism), but it still exists. It's actually because of this that patriarchy has become more difficult to overcome. You could even go as far as to say that it’s less of a problem than it once was, but that doesn’t make what’s left to do any less important.
While Woodley was wrong about feminists not loving men, she was right about needing a balance of power between the sexes. Men are not more important than women and vice versa.
However, feminism is about more than equality between the sexes. Like I said, it is very nuanced. An important aspect of the movement that isn’t usually explained, at least not well, is about allowing femininity to have a place in our culture. I'm talking about qualities that have been labeled inherently feminine like crying, sewing, cooking, being emotional, etc.
To say that there's anything inherent about any gender would just be totally incorrect. Femininity is not inextricably linked to making sandwiches or cleaning, just like fist fights and gun wielding are not intrinsic to men.
Basically, thousands of years ago, we all had our roles to play. Understandably, those roles kind of followed us throughout history. That doesn’t mean that we have to perform them, though.
Just because women are the ones who give birth doesn’t mean we’re the only ones capable of caring for a child, and just because women typically have smaller hands doesn’t mean we’re the only ones who can sew. Similarly, just because men are biologically predisposed to be stronger doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who can lift heavy things.
It's because of feminism that guys today can be stay-at-home dads, bring Hello Kitty backpacks to school and can cry when watching "The Notebook." It's because too many boys and men still receive backlash for all of these things that we need feminism so desperately.
We need feminism in order to dismantle the patriarchy; we need feminism so that men can cry and women can be the breadwinners. We need feminism because we still live in a society where men have more privileges than women.
We're fortunate to live in a time where this inequality is far more subtle than it was decades ago, but that chasm is still there.
We need feminism, not to tear men down and raise women up, but to create a truly level platform on which we can all stand. I'm already standing there. Won't you join me?
Photo via VK