It’s women’s day today and everyone is celebrating the achievements of feminism around the world, highlighting the positive aspects of equality and emancipation while also celebrating women in general. I like this day; I believe it helps put women in the spotlight in those areas of the world where they most need it. But I’m not happy with the direction women activists in the West take their struggles.
Trigger warnings, safe spaces, intersectionality? I first heard of these terms less than a year ago and I was and still am appalled by their implications for women’s movement. Are we now children incapable of speaking or reading about difficult topics? The topics we HAVE to talk about if we wish to address them and offer constructive solutions? I don’t agree with this focus on words and oppression third-wave feminists are so happy to cry about in the media – it is demeaning to women and downright infantilising. Are we to return to the image of women from the Victorian era; the angels of the household who can’t hear about murder and mayhem because it will injure their sensibilities?
Come on – women have proven they are equal to men. We are rational beings and difficult topics don’t scare us. But suddenly these activists would have us believe ‘bad words’ will give us PTSD. Are you serious? Students at universities (future intellectuals and leaders of the world) are demanding trigger warnings on study materials. What the hell?! Law students don’t want to learn about laws covering rape because it is too traumatic… Well, what about a rape victim getting shoddy representation in court because their lawyer couldn’t stomach learning about the law? These types of actual stories make my head hurt.
I’ve seen content warnings on fanfiction sites, which I think is the only way one should use them because they are entirely voluntary. Usually ratings (general, PG-13, mature, etc) are a good indicator of what to expect in a story but other content warnings might make your choice even easier. But please don’t apply these things to study materials. If a student has a problem with anything they can address the problem individually with their professor, but don’t censor content because it might upset someone. Life is a continuous line of smaller and bigger problems, so getting upset is normal and expected. It is how we deal with a problem that defines us – let’s focus on that rather than expend out time and effort on finding new ways people get offended. And the feminists get offended by absolutely EVERYTHING.
I’ve seen a lot of troubling events on the net lately, especially since I follow the migrant crisis in Europe closely. People are advocating censorship under the flag of fighting hate speech. But what exactly is hate speech or offensive speech anyway? Why is it a prosecutable offence to say you don’t like migrants or don’t wish a migrant camp near your home? It is your right to say or post that on the net – it is an opinion. Come on, people – we can have a discussion about this, surely? Just as there are people advocating for migrants, there will be people against them. Just as there are people for abortion rights, and those against these rights – and it has been that way since time immemorial. Do we censor one side?
But that is exactly what is happening and third-wave feminists are at the front lines. Look, hate speech isn’t saying things that aren’t politically correct. Hate speech would be a call to do bodily harm or a criminal act – and this is already a punishable offence. No need to invent some new term and start policing people’s thoughts on the net. And that is precisely what is going on: Facebook, Twitter, and other media sites systematically erase, ban, and prosecute people’s opinions. Free speech means you have the right to say anything you want as long as you don’t call for someone’s assassination or some other crime. Is this clear enough?
I’m upset or offended about a lot of things but that doesn’t mean I have the right to censor that content or even ban it from discussion. We should let people speak freely about issues that concern them. A frank discussion and airing of grievances (as slight as they may be) can only result in some kind of resolution, a new understanding.
I am continuously amazed at the way third-wave feminists are capable of overlooking women’s oppression by hiding under the idea of cultural differences. When feminist groups don’t find it highly offensive and dangerous that families of immigrants demand gynaecologists confirm their daughter’s virginity or perform some sort of FGM (female genital mutilation) in the West, I lose all respect for them as advocates of women’s rights. What happens if the daughter is not a virgin anymore? Will she be the victim of these so called ‘honour’ killings? Or will she have to undergo a surgery to get a new hymen for her husband? How can parents decide that an underage girl has to have her clitoris or labia cut off? Is that not the girl’s decision? What happens to bodily autonomy? To human rights? I’m against all kinds of genital modifications (as some now phrase it) – I’m against circumcision as well, and consider it a barbaric practice with deep psychological effects on babies that fall victims of it. I think men should be informed about this as well and women should support them in ending this practice.
I’m against some third-wave feminists calling on the mighty patriarchy as the root of all evil. Patriarchy isn’t the problem in the West anymore – women are free to choose their lives, to get an education and a job, to form a family, to divorce, to have a right to their children, and finances – they are equal to men. Differences that we see in men’s and women’s lives are there because our different reproduction cycles (pregnancy does require time off from work, at least in the weeks after delivery). Of course women are more likely to raise children, but I think men nowadays are just as happy to spend time with their offspring. I see so many dads taking their children on walks, or shopping, or just spending time playing with them, and helping around the house. Third-waver’s would have us believe men are monsters.
It is the third world and many Muslim countries that have a very strong and even tyrannical patriarchy. I don’t hear any third-wave feminists calling it out. Women in India are fighting for their rights and against sexual predation – how do third-wavers respond? They dress in underwear and go on a slut-walk. *headdesk* Where is the dignity? Yes, no one has the right to violate anyone based on their clothing, but have some respect for yourself and protest with your clothes on. People must listen, not watch, to learn something, no? That is why no one is taking feminism seriously anymore and why it’s become a shameful word.
Intersectionality (link to a video explaining it here is turning feminists into oppression fetishists. How can you label people as oppressed or privileged based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other category? This erases them as individuals and reduces them to a collection of categories. According to them I’m a white, heterosexual, cis-female. I guess I’m oppressed by white, heterosexual, cis-men. But just by breathing I oppress a heterosexual, cis-female from an ethnic minority. WHAT? How can you base your idea of a just society by being blatantly racist, sexist, and downright bigoted towards people based on characteristics they had no control over. I’m sorry I was born white and to white parents? I’m sorry I like men? Where does this end?
These arbitrary characteristics shouldn’t matter – who cares about your skin colour, or sexuality? We should care far more about ideas, knowledge, and experiences people have. We shouldn’t create more chasms between us – we should build bridges and help humanity reach a higher goal of peace, happiness, and freedom for all. We should join hands with each other, not fight over who is more privileged than the other. We are different but we are equal. Women used to know that – what happened? Why are we destroying a movement that tried to connect women all around the globe? Let’s forget the differences and celebrate our strengths. Let us not forget men are not the enemy. We are all people. We have to live and work with one another. Stop hating everyone.