Normally, I do my best to provide reasoned arguments based on evidence and present them in a way which is non-discriminatory and communicates the full complexity of the issue at hand. At least I try to achieve this, and then convince myself that I have done the best I can in under 500 words. But this time, I am just going to let loose, simply because I am beyond being reasonable. I have been pushed too far.
I can no longer debate feminism. I shouldn’t even have to debate equality in the first place, but debates over equality exist nonetheless. Debating and arguing is happening because apparently gender equality isn’t necessary. You heard it here first! In this day and age where women are being sold off to marriage at 10 years old, where one in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and where being compared to a woman is generally an insult, gender equality is unnecessary. We don’t need feminism, and we certainly don’t need feminists because we obviously already have gender equality.
My biggest mistake is that I take equality all too seriously and the matter sits too close to my heart; after all, I am the more emotional sex. How could my mind possibly function under all the stress of having to align with every single feminist on the planet (because we are all obviously exactly the same and don’t have independent thoughts—we are literally a hive mind) when all my brain was designed to do was remember that recipe for cherry pie and reproduce on cue. How have women possibly existed for so long in this stressful society where we have had to resort to pursuing our own careers (gasp!), living independently (scream!), and buying our own damn jewellery (faints in horror!).
Angry sarcasm aside, I am at the end of my rope. This is because most of my feminist debating occurs with people who don’t care about the rules of debate, and if they did, the rules wouldn’t apply anyway. Nothing grinds my gears more than people who, for whatever reason, throw a red herring into the conversation and refuse to address any logical points you have made. Gone are the days where I enjoyed reading the comments sections online to see if there is a different perspective out there I hadn’t already considered. People are all too keen to put in their own two cents and then run for the hills when someone provides a well-thought out rebuttal—which makes me question why even contribute to the comments section if you aren’t actually going to participate? Pro tip: don’t read a comments section unless you need an angry adrenaline rush.
When I do find a somewhat worthy candidate to debate a feminist-led campaign (normally one of my shit-stirring Facebook friends who antagonise me to no end, but for unknown reasons I haven’t yet blocked them) they still assume that I am just another ‘femi-nazi’ who will scream and scream and never actually listen. For goodness sakes people, not all feminists are the same! Not all actors are the same, not all Liberal voters are the same, and not all feminists are the same. The only thing feminists have in common is that we believe women have been systematically oppressed (past and present) and that something should be done about it. I do listen to different views and new evidence, goddamn it, and I change my views based on new evidence. If you knew me, you would know this instead of having to make incorrect assumptions.
When someone assumes that feminism is a ‘nothing-topic’, and isn’t actually worthy of more than a minutes’ thought, I take it very personally. I had someone ask me, via Facebook message no less, six questions on various feminist topics so they could get a feel for what sort of feminist I am. Because, as a feminist, I am a case-study and this requires me to perform my feminism for the benefit of others entertainment. Doing the responsible and polite thing, I responded to each of these questions in full—I provided my opinion, the logic which backed my opinions, alternate views which I may not agree with but have considered and why, and possibilities or circumstances that I hadn’t yet considered properly. My response came to just over 150 words per answer. Their response? ‘Holy crap balls, I thought it was a fairly quick question.’ A quick question? A QUICK QUESTION?! You realise that, with every feminist topic and campaign, I consider gender, age, race, ability, financial status, preferences of the people directly involved, the ongoing effects and how these can be managed, the history of the topic, who is being oppressed, how they’re being oppressed, and how best to address the issue? There is no such thing as a quick question or a quick solution in feminism, especially when factors within the issue are contradictory. As an example, The NASA guy at the press conference with the semi-naked women on his shirt? It’s horrible women are being objectified like that, but a woman knowingly made the shirt off their own motivation, but it really wasn’t appropriate for the occasion, but also no one deserves any negative consequence because of the clothes they choose to wear (ie. ‘deserving’ to be raped because they wore a short skirt). IT IS COMPEX AND YOUR DISMISSAL OF THE TOPIC IS ULTIMATELY INSULTING.
What is even worse is mansplainers. I would like to say it here and for evermore: if you personally have not experienced the topic of discussion, your opinion/input means little and your response instantly loses credibility and is likely to be dismissed. You don’t have a uterus? Then you can’t tell me what to do with mine unless you have a MD. You’ve never experienced sexual assault? Stop telling me how to avoid it. You’re a working class male telling me the glass ceiling is made up and women don’t really want to be in executive positions within a company? Your stupid is showing. On this note, the #NotAllMen campaign pisses me off to no end. Yes, we know not all men rape or assault women. Yes, we know not all men would rape or assault a woman, or anyone for that matter. When you say #NotAllMen, what you’re really saying is ‘I haven’t and wouldn’t rape or assault someone.’ Congratulations on making a campaign about how women are grossly overrepresented in victim statistics all about you. You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about, and haven’t even made an effort to fully consider what you’re saying. Fuck off.
And don’t EVER mansplain fucking feminism to a feminist. No, not all feminists hate men. Many people hate men, and some of these people are feminists. You’re going to tell me you believe in equal rights, but not feminism? Congratulations on not actually knowing what you are talking about! You’re going to tell me a sexist joke? I’m just going to stand here prompting you to explain the humour to me so you realise just how ridiculous you are.
Apparently I need to point out there are many, many issues feminists want to address. Just because I’m not addressing one issue doesn’t mean I don’t care or have forgotten about it. It’s like saying to successfully make a 500km journey by car—I have to do it all in one shot. That’s total bullshit. There is no one solution that will fix every feminist issue: we are all working together, bit by bit to achieve the equality we so desire (also, again, why is equality something we desire? Why doesn’t equality just exist?). I am deeply concerned that education is not freely available to women in some parts of the world. I am also concerned about the freedoms Western women don’t have over their body, whether it is abortion rights or the injustice of being policed because ‘holy crap I just saw a woman’s nipple! Who will think of the children?!’ Neither of these issues is more important than the other; no two issues can be compared. It would also create more equality issues if white women descended upon the Middle East to force our own concept of equality without consideration of culture or religion. Every feminist issue is as important as the last, and if you took a moment to consider the far-reaching consequences of any policing or systematic oppression, you wouldn’t argue that feminists are sexually frustrated and that’s why they have shirtless rallies (p.s. if you agree with this sentiment, you’re an asshole).
So, in the spirit of reconciliation, I would like to provide some truths I hope you will consider when discussing feminism or a feminist topic. Feminism stands for gender equality, yet it is still to be called feminism to herald its beginnings—campaigning for women’s rights in an oppressive patriarchal society. Not all feminists stand for the same things, nor do all feminists hold rallies and public campaigns to further their agenda. Not all feminists are lesbians. You don’t need to have a vagina to be a feminist. There are many different ‘types’ of feminists, and they will all approach equality in different ways. Yes, there are many feminist issues; no, they cannot all be fixed in a single day or with a single solution. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to question the logic behind any argument (feminist or otherwise); no, it is not appropriate to liken your counterpart’s argument to the tactics of feminists who do scream at men. If you’re dismissing a feminist issue because a woman explained it to you, then yes, you are part of the problem. Finally, yes, it is personally insulting to be instantly dismissed because I believe in gender equality.
There you go. I am sick of arguing and debating something that I find so self-explanatory. I am sick of entertaining office-chair wowsers practicing their inability to provide logic. So, I will now go back to providing reasoned arguments to people who do not follow the conventions of debate. Until the next time I lose my mind due to disrespectful individuals, farewell readers!
Words by Kaisha Wyld
Art by Sheydin Dew