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The feminist overcorrection

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A shirt sold by H&M sporting  a feminist (but closer to misandrist) slogan.

A shirt sold by H&M sporting a feminist (but closer to misandrist) slogan.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

A shirt sold by H&M sporting a feminist (but closer to misandrist) slogan.

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The feminist movement has been trucking on for well over a century, making accomplishments left and right since they snagged the vote in 1920. Though not always well-respected, the feminist campaign has taken over much of today’s culture, and is the backbone of many political movements and ideologies–and I think that the world is all the better for it.

My concern, though, regarding the recent surge of feminism that served as a reactant to the election of our current president, is that they are abandoning the original intentions of the movement they serve, and as a result are inhibiting any future progress.

The motivation behind feminism, as stated in both its dictionary definition and by its early proponents, is to attain gender equality; it does not intend to topple the patriarchy to make room for a matriarchy, as that would just be replacing one injustice with another.

In a previous article (linked here) I discussed the merits of a feminist movement based upon those values of equality, and that people’s perception of crazy man-haters was not an accurate one. I argued that that common misconception was actually a much more accurate representation of misandrism, which is the belief that women should hold dominance over men.

Now, if all of that is true (which it is), how come so few women readily refer to themselves as feminists? A Vox poll showed that although 85% of Americans believe in gender equality, only 18% refer to themselves as feminists–most likely because of the misconceptions I discussed earlier. Now, in my last article, I discredited those misconceptions–but perhaps they are rooted in some sort of truth.

Let me clarify. A feminist is someone who believes in gender equality, that is indisputable. It is my observation, though, that the movement itself has taken on a scarily misandrist undertone.

Walking through H&M, you are likely to see some sort of shirt sporting a logo akin to “Women Rule the World,” and you have probably seen the hashtag #thefutureisfemale quite often lately. At first glance, these are positive messages. Women too often feel subjugated and powerless in a world where the majority of governments are made up of middle-aged men, and it’s empowering for your gender to be the future’s namesake.

I saw one such shirt in H&M one day, and I had those very thoughts when I first came across it. Then I thought about it some more. Here was a message empowering women and encouraging them to effect change in the world–but, in giving that message, the designer was doing exactly what has been holding women back for centuries: they excluded men from the narrative.

The goal of feminism is to gain equality, yet they are sending out a message that is so women-centric that it serves as an exclusion of men. It is, by all accounts, an overcorrection of the current problem.

That tendency towards overcorrection is exactly what I think is holding the feminist movement back. In order to effect change in society at large, a political movement must garner followers–and not just the people who were with them from the beginning. You have to make a conscious effort to convince people who would normally do otherwise to join your side, something I think feminism is doing a very poor job of as of late.

For someone who supports gender equality, but hesitates to commit to the title of “feminist”, a message that purports fundamentally misandrist claims under the guise of feminism will only alienate them further. This limits the feminist movement to contain only the passionate and the radical, and you need a lot more to make a difference in a conservative-majority country.

I am a feminist, and a militant one at that. I want to see women represented in a fair and equal way, and I don’t see that happening in the near future if the movement as a whole continues down this trajectory. We need to correct the gender imbalance, not reverse it.

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