Up until the age of about eighteen, I considered myself a feminist without hesitation. Were you to ask me if I was a feminist, I would have responded the same way had you asked me if I considered myself a human: “Well, yeah, duh . . . what else would I be?” Now, I’m not so sure–and that’s terribly sad.
I grew up attending all-girls schools for most of my life. I grew up with the unchallenged ideological belief that men and women were equally capable, intelligent, and badass. In kindergarten, we watched a cartoon about Genesis (I went to a catholic elementary school). I remember one of the boys in my class snottily remarking about how men came first in the bible and were therefore better than women. I looked at him like he was the stupidest creature alive, retaliated with “first is the worst, second is the best,” and proceeded to ask my teacher approximately twenty thousand questions about where the dinosaurs were in the bible and why god never mentioned them. I’m pretty sure I felt bad for the lack of recognition for the brontosaurs of the world. Plus, I’d been really looking forward to seeing cartoon dinosaurs in a story about the beginning of the earth, and was sorely disappointed when no prehistoric roars emanated from the small boxy 90s television. In my mind, they had skipped the good bits and went right to naked humans.
But anyways, I digress. I grew up surrounded by strong, intimidating, enviable women. I was an upstart girl with ratty hair, a love of dresses, and the insurmountable belief that I was completely capable of whatever I set my mind to. I am the woman I am because of those who came before me, those who paved the way for the women of my generation, and those who died in the struggle. I’ve noticed a lot of people–some who can be excused due youthful ignorance, some who should know better by now–who are warping the message of equality that decades of women fought to convey.
Whenever this subject is raised, it always inspires a chorus of “But that’s not real feminism!” and I agree. Feminism is about the equality of the sexes. It’s about dismantling the patriarchy by filling the world with women who are not afraid to fight for what they deserve. But there appears to be a wave of girls who believe that feminism means the ability to be shitty while not having to smell the stench of fecal matter. These are the women who become uproarious about female body shaming, but fully believe that they deserve a man with a six pack. These are the women who think it’s okay to say all men are dicks but would go ballistic if a man said all women are cunts.
Here’s the thing: hate begets hate. Justifying sexism against men by pointing out that women had it worse for centuries doesn’t make it okay for you to be an asshole. If you don’t like being objectified and seen as a sexual object, you can’t turn around and comment on a man’s abs or bulge. Or, one of my favorite real-life examples: if you wouldn’t want a man to pass around your nude photos and make snarky comments with his friends about the size of your fake tits and the sagginess of your vagina, you can’t have a secret facebook group commenting on photos of local men’s penises. Objectifying women is wrong. Objectifying men is wrong. If you don’t want to be seen as a tool used solely as a nice warm moist penis-cozy, you can’t justify talking about men as if they were just a joystick to take out on a ride.
Lowering yourself to the level of sexism displayed by men for centuries does nothing to further equality–it just makes sexism acceptable. And that would be relatively fine if the goal was to just universally objectify people (because, hey, some humans are really nice to look at). But these same people writing articles for a living about which male celebrity should be fucked, married, or killed is the same person commenting angrily under a similar article about female celebrities. The woman marching in the Women’s March while, that next day, intentionally using her sexuality to intimidate or subdue a man for shits and giggles–that’s hypocritical bullshit.
This really isn’t rocket science. If a sentence is indubitably sexist when it’s filled with female pronouns, changing “she” to “he” doesn’t make it okay. For example, take this article posted today on Thought Catalog. Or this one, from today as well. As-is, they are sappy short little reads. However, read the articles as if they were written by a man about a woman. I don’t know about you, but I got an instant image of the much-maligned fedora-wearing NiceGuy (whose archetype is widely regarded as women-hating sexist).
For a more aggressive example, I present this Buzzfeed article that I’ve had in my open tabs on Chrome for the past week because it infuriated me so much: 23 Things You’ll Get If You Hate Men But Are Also Attracted To Them. Or, this article about the different sorts of “fuckboys” you meet as a woman. Let’s get one thing straight here. Men do not owe women a relationship any more than women owe men a relationship. Calling someone who sleeps around a fuckboy is no better than calling a woman a cumdumpster. Going tit for tat just leaves everyone boob-less.
In conclusion: if you call yourself a feminist and are sexist towards men, you aren’t feminist. You’re not helping women by putting down men. You’re not leveling the playing field. You’re not taking back the night. You’re not furthering women’s rights. You’re just a shitty person being shitty and trying to pass it off as chocolate.