Please, Spare Me the Caricatures of Feminism

One reason why I do not claim to be a feminist is because I don’t think I know enough about feminism to categorize myself that way–but for the most part, I don’t believe in the categorization of beliefs. It’s the same reason why I don’t claim to be religious, even though I grew up in a Buddhist/Taoist family, along with exposure to Christian beliefs. For me, I don’t want to belong to any category. I don’t want to limit myself or my thinking. And most importantly, I can’t. I can’t belong to one category because I’m not just one category. Can we systematize our beliefs and identity in such a way that we are either one thing or another? Must we put ourselves in boxes, wear certain hats to label ourselves in order to set ourselves apart?

So I’m not feminist, but I always say I am a little bit feiminist–because I believe in gender equality, which is an important aspect of feminism. And the reason I am writing this post is because I always seem to be bickering (in a calm and intellectual manner) with my little brother about feminism. He thinks that feminism is essentially oppression, and he seems to be consumed by the male-bashing images of feminism. He points out that while women are fighting for gender equality–there is no gender equality. True. Despite what we have achieved, there is still no gender equality.

He then continues to address sexism against men–for example: in spite of being fewer in numbers and statistics, there are rape victims that are male, but they are not getting the attention and justice they deserve. Most people will dismiss it as ridiculous. You’re a guy and you got raped? How does that even work? But if a sexual act is not consensual for one party, it is rape. Yes, men can get raped. Furthermore, it is much easier for them to be framed as the culprit and aggressor because–well, they are men. Often they would be prosecuted as the perpetrators rather than victims. It’s like slut-shaming against women–women are easily blamed for the rape that’s happened to them.

While I acknowledge that sexism happens both ways–that men and women can be equally subject to sexism–I do not think it is right to essentialize feminism with oppression or stupid male-bashing. Of course, there are feminists with unnecessary antagonism towards men and they blame men for all problems regarding to gender (or everything). Like all beliefs or ideologies, feminism can be flawed. But I don’t think that’s what’s important here. We can go on and on and on about what feminism is and what is isn’t, but it simply doesn’t matter. We can go on blaming radical feminists for making too much noise while real problems get ignored, or we can go on and on about sexism against men that are trivialized by the society–it just doesn’t end. Of course, those problems are real problems. But, it just seems pointless to me–to try and prove feminism (or anything else) as right or faulty, legit or not legit–to me it is so frustrating that my brother continues to correlate feminism with useless male-bashing. He doesn’t say it exactly like that–let me just be clear that he’s an intellectual, and he is of a rather scientific mind when it comes to controversy and other things. He doesn’t trivialize feminism or ridicule it, so let me just put that out there. But I sense that he is biased against feminism, maybe just like I am biased towards it. Maybe that’s what causes the friction–but!

But it still annoys me! Where does my brother get all his sources from? Funnyjunk. He sees “posts” with “legit” citations and sources and takes their word for it. Granted, maybe the facts are true and verifiable–but honestly, Funnyjunk is one of the worst places to base your opinions upon. The website itself is extremely racist and misogynist. I mean, okay, it’s a site that’s supposed to be funny, so it generates humour by being offensively edgy and witty. The reason why I am so utterly annoyed is because he doesn’t truly understand feminism, or what it implies. Feminism has its activist side, but it is also about understanding and deconstructing gender–which, to me, is the most important thing. Whether it is sexism against men or women, I think it is of utmost importance that we recognize our society as largely patriarchal and filled with social, cultural, racial and gender constructions. For me the most important thing is to get to the root of the problem, not pointing fingers. Furthermore, we should all be responsible and constantly  self-check in order to avoid being judgmental, chauvinistic, or narrow-minded.

I don’t believe one particular ideology or belief is enough to represent the world, just like there is no “grand solution” to solve all the problems we have in our society. That is why we shouldn’t self-label, or attempt to label others. It can be an empowering process when you identify with something, and it can give better purpose. But we should always be open-minded about everything, and always question what we see and believe. We should always be seeking to learn, and understand more–so that we aren’t fixated by our own ideas, and end up believing what we want to believe.

And that marks the end of my preachy rant. Any thoughts??