Okay, buckle up Dads, this is just as much a men’s issue as it is a women’s issue. Today we’re going to talk about Feminism. Mayim Bialik recently released a video urging us to stop calling women “girls,” and after reading through a comment thread on a friend’s Facebook timeline it became clear to me that many people, men and women alike, just don’t get it.
For the record, I think Mayim’s video is awesome. Please click on the link above and watch it (go ahead, I’ll wait). It’s a light-hearted but serious discussion on how women are devalued by the very language we use day-to-day. What she’s saying is that male-centric ideals permeate our thinking to the point where we use sexist language without thinking twice about it; and that it’s probably time to start thinking differently. When I watched it, I thought “right on. Good point,” and then I went about my day. I didn’t think she said anything controversial, because what she said is obvious. Apparently some people do not agree.
I’m going to address three objections I encountered to Mayim’s video, because in my experience these three keep popping up when I talk to people about Feminism. (1) “We have bigger problems. Women are being sold into sex slavery, that’s real oppression.” (2) “I work in a male dominated profession, and this language is common. I’m not offended by it.” And let’s not leave out one of my personal favourites, (3) “people are so sensitive. Get over it snowflake, stop being so dramatic.” There was also an attempt to ‘mansplain’ why she was wrong, but I’m going to ignore that as irrelevant. This is important, Dads, because this is the world our kids are inheriting. Here are my thoughts on these three objections:
(1) “We have bigger problems:” Yup, we do. What has that got to do with anything? There are people being slaughtered in Saudi Arabia, why are you wasting time commenting on this video? (see? Sounds ridiculous, right?) Mayim’s video addressed one specific problem, and her point was valid. If she wanted to talk about human trafficking, she would have. (2) “I’m not offended by it:” Good for you. Does your not being offended mean that no-one else should be? Are your feelings the standard by which we should live? Didn’t think so. (3) “Get over it snowflake, stop being so dramatic:” First of all, the video wasn’t dramatic. She was measured, light-hearted, and cheery. Second, get over what? Who is being sensitive? We are pointing out a flaw in thinking and language, no-one is pissed off and burning cars over this. It’s a valid discussion, and I personally think that if you’re bothered by it, you’re the one who needs to calm down.
Feminism is important to modern parenting. With the fact that so many people can’t come to terms with the reality of how women are treated in our society, not to mention the social ills promoted by the popularity of the current US President, our kids have to be taught about this. Your daughters have to learn what to expect and how to operate in the world, but your sons do as well. Feminism is just a much a men’s issue because men are responsible for it. Were it not for patriarchal power structures, Feminism wouldn’t exist, because … well … no one would need it. And the basic issue isn’t really difficult, either. People like to talk about “militant feminism,” “third-wave feminism,” and all these other subgroups, but what it boils down to is equality. Feminism is about the crazy notion that women deserve equal treatment to men. Anything further is something else.
As for parenting, that’s simple also; and again it’s in large part a men’s issue. Instead of teaching your daughter not to wear clothes she is comfortable in, teach your son not to rape. Instead of teaching your daughter she has to work harder to get ahead, teach your son that women deserve equal pay for equal work. Instead of teaching your daughter that it’s her job to be the primary caregiver should she decide to have children, teach your son that the role of a parent is to share responsibility 50/50. Feminists aren’t out to get anyone, this is literally what we want to see taught to the next generation.
At this point, you may be thinking about those women who claim to hate men, wish ill will upon Dads, etc. Those people exist, and sadly Feminism is often associated with them. I can’t speak for them and I don’t know how they reach the conclusions they do, but the fact that women are not treated as equals in our society is true whether those women exist or not. If we could just stop attacking human beings for wanting to be treated with respect and decency, our children would inherit a better world. If not … well … the biases you teach your kids are on you.