The “Real Sexism” Incident

Well, then. I already shared my opinion on feminism with you, my hesitation to call myself a feminist because of the negative connotations, and that if feminism is all about equality, I guess I do consider myself a feminist. Actually, just now, while I was preparing to write this entry, I asked myself if there is such a thing as masculism, and if there is such a thing, what shapes it would take.

The issue, to start this off more generally, with every social rights movement, political tendency or belief is that there are people who take it too literally, who go too far to promote it, who try suffocating everything that goes against their belief. I am not quite sure why that is. I guess humans are just bound to execute intolerance and destruction. Those people, the ones who take it too far, are called extremists. I already told you what I think about femen, but compared to other extremist groups, they are harmless, because writing stuff on your boobs does not have much of an effect, neither positive nor negative. Extremism can take much more dangerous forms, as we all know; the most prominent examples are al-Qaeda and the Aryan Brotherhood. People who terrorize and kill other people because of extremist believes. The backgrounds of extremism are normal things, painless things, that are unfortunately open to interpretation, like the Bible and the things people understand it as, a shocking example being the white supremacists who interpret the “creation” story in the Genesis book in the way that non-white people have no souls because they were made of mud.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, about a month ago, Jasmin sent me the link to Emma Watson’s #HeforShe speech, and, hesitant about the label “feminist” as I was, I posted the speech on twitter with nothing but the tag “Something to think about”. A short time after I had posted it, I received an answering tweet, and I thought, nice, I got a response! So I read the tweet and it had been sent by someone calling themselves @rapebombing. (A name that admittedly made me suspicious.) They had sent me a link, with the tag “Something else to think about”, and I thought, alright, give it a try, and what they had sent me was a site called realsexism.com, and for those of you whose attention was just grabbed, I think I will disappoint you in a minute, because none of the contents on this site were what anyone in their right mind could have called real.

What the Real Sexism Project appears to be about is that allegedly, men are the real victims of sexism. Now, I am not sure who ever claimed that men are never victim to sexism, but whoever concocted this site obviously believes sexism only sees females as the victims and men as the aggressors. Out of that mislead belief, the originator of realsexism.com collected a myriad of statistics and facts, some of whom are completely unconnected to the issue of sexism (e.g. “89 % of men will be the victim of at least one violent crime”), some of whom are enunciated a little too vaguely to be taken seriously (e.g. “40 – 70 % of domestic violence is against men”), and some of whom just plainly sound fictitious (e.g. “Court bias against men is at least 6 times bigger than racial bias”).  What the originator has done, as is common with extremists, is that they took studies and surveys from universities and other academic facilities and interpreted these in the way that they wanted to interpret them. This is how extremism works, how it always has worked and always will work – extremists will go to you and say, what I am saying is not wrong, and then they will show you their evidence, the evidence they apprehended by twisting and turning things, looking for loopholes and leeway.

“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that ain’t so.” Mark Twain

What depressed me for the rest of the day after I had received that tweet was that this person, whoever they might be, has a hundred and fifty-eight followers on twitter. A hundred and fifty-eight. This means that a hundred and fifty-eight people either believe in what this person says or even support it. A hundred and fifty-eight people does not sound like a scandalizing amount, but the issue is that this person, this extremist (or maybe it even is a group of extremists, who knows) is able to spread their extremist views on the internet just like other people are spreading cute cat gifs on 9gag and everybody in the entire world has unlimited access to it. The realization that people’s minds are weak enough to fall for it is depressing enough, but the internet has made it infinitely easy to spread your believes. Hell, I am feeding you my believes and thoughts right here, in the moment that you are reading this, as well as every time I post something on facebook or share something on twitter or write a story and publish it on fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.

What this boils down to is that extremists have always existed and will always exist, but the internet has changed the world, it has changed how people interact and how they gain knowledge, and on that day in September, when this person responded to my tweet for #HeforShe, I understood that nowadays it is ridiculously easy for extremists to gain followers, and it scares me. This person has a hundred and fifty-eight followers on twitter, and they will gain a lot more over time because humans are pliable and have to believe in something, and sometimes all it takes is one wrong turn.

What appealed to me about #HeforShe is that it is in no way extreme. Emma Watson’s speech was directed at women and men, and she accorded both sexes the right to equality and the ability to fight against discrimination, because #HeforShe is aware that both sexes are victim of discrimination, in all its different forms.

All I wish for today is that you, the readers, consider your believes and consider them carefully. There is no right way of thinking, but we all must be aware of the intrinsic truth that says that all humans are created equal and deserve equal rights and equal treatment, and should you ever come across anything that violates that truth, obviously or insidiously, you should think twice about believing it.

Don’t give extremists a chance.

“We came equals into this world, and equals shall we go out of it.” George Mason

Follow Miri on her personal Twitter account: OriginalSGreenD

 

What it means to be a feminist

When Jasmin approached me about this topic – what it means to be a feminist – I pondered over how to approach it; I had nothing to go by but the title. So I thought to myself, why not start this off with a scientific ground on which I could place my opinion? It is the easiest way for me to decide what a feminist is, in general, and what a feminist is to me, specifically.

According to Lois Tyson, English Professor at Grand Valley State University and author of several books about critical literary theory (covering feminist criticism, as well), feminism means fighting against the reinforcement of the economic, political, social and psychological oppression of women. So far, so good.

One of the claims feminists are much-maligned for, though, is that we should not use the masculine pronoun “he” to represent both men and women. For many feminists (again, according to Lois Tyson), using “he” to refer to both sexes suggests that male experience is a standard by which both sexes are evaluated, even though strictly speaking “he” can only refer to males.

A thorn in the side of feminism is the scheme of patriarchy. Patriarchy promotes traditional gender roles, which assign to men the traits rational, strong, protective, while women are considered irrational, weak, submissive. The best example for that way of thinking is the concept of hysteria. We have all heard the cases of women who were diagnosed with the psychological disorder “hysteria”, a condition deemed distinctly female and marked by overemotional and irrational behavior; now, what’s striking about this (to Ms. Tyson as well as me) is that the word hysteria derives from the Greek word “hystera”, which means “womb”.

While you are letting that sink in for a minute, I just want to add that feminist critical theory distinguishes between the term “sex”, referring to our physical and genetic make-up, and the term “gender”, which means the cultural programming as either male or female we undergo when we grow up. It is an interesting approach to look at, considering you are biologically a man or a woman (or something in between), but also that there are behaviors, habits, gestures, looks, that are being described as male or female without having anything to do with the biological or genetic make-up of the person conducting that behavior, habit, gesture or look.

So much for the scientific side. Now, what do I think?

I think I am hesitant to call myself a feminist. I despise the concept of patriarchy, of the so-called traditional gender roles, and honestly, when I learned of what hysteria means in Greek, it pulled the rug out from under my feet. But, on the other hand, I do not care about the pronoun issue; to me, “he” is a pronoun and nothing else. It’s semantics and nothing more.

Furthermore, when I hear the term “feminist”, I picture extremists, like femen, who think writing stuff on their boobs will help fighting patriarchy, but really, I think it doesn’t help much; I heard a German comedian called Maxi Gstettenbauer joke about femen and the fact that he has never read anything the femen activists had written on themselves because he was too busy looking at their breasts. And you know what? I laughed, because it is true.

But the truth is also that I am not doing feminism justice by reducing it to femen and other extremists or the pronoun issue. If you can go on and call yourself a feminist because you consider yourself a strong woman who wants both sexes to have equal rights, equal opportunities, equal payment, then I guess I can consider myself a feminist. The term still has a lingering bad connotation, but my hope is that #HeforShe can change that, and not only for me, but for everyone else, too, masculine, feminine, male, female, whoever cares, whoever wants to listen.

Follow Miri on her Twitter: OriginalSGreenD

Feminism and Gender Equality – HeForShe Week

True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith, ethnicity – or political ideology.

~ Monica Crowley

Hey my loves,

this week is a very special week on The Dawn of Inspiration. Every single day a new blog entry will come online concerning Feminism and Gender Equality in honor of the campaign HeForShe! I am a feminist and I believe in gender equality and I believe that every single one of us has to do something to reach our goal. No matter how small or big our contribution is, it matters that we all pull on the same string: Gender Equality!

Feminism is not only for women. It’s something everyone can participate in, and evolve together, as the first step in the right direction. I see feminism as a tool to achieve that balance and peace.

~ Ani DiFranco

To be a feminist means believing that we can achieve a better and stronger base for our nation today through gender equality. It means building a unity which will present the foundation of a better and stronger society – despite our skin color, ethic, race or gender.

A society in which it does not matter where you come from but how hard you have worked for what you believe in. A society in which you won’t be discriminated because of your skin color or gender but for your individual characteristics and your will. A society which does not discriminates a man as a “wimp” just because he shows emotions. A society which can accept the strength of a woman without having to feel intimidated. A society which is build on acceptance. An acceptance which allows every person to be whatever he or she likes to be.

Feminism does not mean hating men, it does not mean „woman are the stronger sex”! Feminism means unity and equality. Feminism means to be free in the unity. Gender equality is a controversial “must” for the stability of a strong society. A society can only exists with men and women. A „without“ cannot exist, because a society could not exists with just one gender.

We need gender equality! We need feminism! We need HeForShe!

Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability. ~ Sandra Day O’Connor

Please let me now, what you think! Tweet me: The Dawn of Inspiration!

Xoxo, Jasmin.