June 22, 2014 by Holly
I’ve been spending a bit of time on change.org recently, a website that features petitions on a wide range of subjects open for public signing, when I came across one asking that feminism be declared a terrorist act. The title shocked me, but I wasn’t too worried until I looked at the figures – the petition needed 2500 to go through, and already had 1,702. How on earth did that happen?
My biggest problem with this petition, other than the fact that it seems to strip individuals of their basic right to make up their own minds on how they class themselves, was the fact that it seemed to portray feminism as a militant act of ruthless and rugged intentions, which is simply not the case. I appreciate that there have been a wide range of feminist definitions in the past, some of which were more violent than others, but is variation in the carrying out of beliefs not true of any popular or well known cause? What of religion, where the varying ways to dedicate oneself vary widely and sparsely?
The petition implied that not only was feminism a hate movement, it also stated clearly in its letter that feminists were ‘misandric loonatics’ who ‘attacked men and women for choosing to live their lives the way they want to’. Misandric loonatics? If I was going to be really facetious, then I would first point out that lunatics isn’t spelt with a double ‘o’, but a ‘u’, yet that would be besides the point. Not only does this paint a grossly unfair picture of feminism and what the movement stands for, it simply isn’t true. The last time I checked, I (as a feminist), was not ‘promoting hate and discrimination’ or ‘fradulently’ blaming ‘men to collect money’ to fund my ‘political ideology’, but supporting the apparently radical notion that women deserve equal rights to men. Is that so crazy? The big issue with the letter is that it portrays feminists as man-haters and violent activists, which is a stereotype that really shouldn’t exist in today’s world considering that self-proclaimed feminists come in all shapes and sizes. Lena Dunham, Claire Danes, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ellen Page, Zoey Deschanel, Beyonce and (shock horror) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I would like to point out to the founder of the petition, is a man. Yes, a man. An individual of the male gender is supporting a movement that you claim to be male-discriminatory, as is Patrick Stewart, also a man.
I personally believe in feminism – it’s an idea that I support strongly, because what isn’t right about getting equal rights for women? However, I do think that people should be able to make their own choices about how they define themselves, so whilst I call myself a feminist because I know that it’s a role my ideas fit into, I’m alright with people choosing another word to explain their support for equality. This said, I strongly disagree with the stereotypical portrayal of feminists that this petition seems to support, as to me”feminism is a discussion” – wisely put by Tavi Gevinson- with the ultimate intention of creating equality. Though I can’t speak for every feminist on the planet, I don’t support the letter’s claim that feminism is offensive when concerning men who are worried about men’s issues, as feminism is generally about ensuring equality and balance for everyone, regardless of gender. Whilst the focus is on women, this is specifically because the current climate demands it to be so. Women are so often put at a disadvantage- be it in third world countries through forced marriages, or at work in a first world country where the domineering glass ceiling looms over female proffessionals, and therefore feminism has adapted in order to bring about change. Feminism is certainly not (if only in my case) existent for the purpose of suppressing men’s rights or opinions. I myself believe that it is important to recognise this, particularly when it comes to issues like rape or discrimination, where men can be victims as well as opressors, yet think that as a whole, any feminist who chooses to focus on women’s issues is justified as this is a primary concern today.
Also, (this is where I get a little more informal), I was looking at the comments and one person compared feminists to the Nazis. I’m sorry, but what?! Feminists are like Nazis- in no way is this correct. One group was responsible for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people based purely on race, whilst the other helped and is helping to support and make incredible leaps towards gender equality.
The petition also talks about repeated attacks by feminists as well as violence, so I must say that generally, I do not support violence on any terms. However, there didn’t seem to be a lot of evidence or factual basis for these claims, so whilst they could be true, it seems like the comment was made more for the purpose of reinforcing a point than because there had been a specifically horrific incident recently where feminists had caused major damage (please do correct me if I’m wrong).
My final point, as it’s getting a bit late and I need to go to bed, is that who are the petition signers to decide whether a person should be able to be a feminist or not? Do I get to decide if a person is religious? Can I tell you whether or not you should be going to a private or state school? On the basis that feminists in general are not violent or imposing, as the petition suggests, I believe that not only are there not sufficient grounds to make feminism a terrorist movement, but also that the suggestion itself is so ludicrous that it should really come into question why people are signing, instead of not signing.
The link to this petition is here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-government-its-time-to-class-feminism-as-a-terrorist-group
I appreciate that this article will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I publish this post on the basis that it is a representative of my opinion at a certain point in time, and my opinion only. I do not seek to force you into one lane or the other, only offer up an opinion which could prove interesting or insightful to anyone who wants to hear about it. I would also like to point out that whilst I do agree with the sentiment of what I’ve said, I was lying on the floor when I wrote this and wasn’t particularly concentrating, so the post isn’t very eloquently written. This doens’t mean I think my argument is invalid, only that I might have been able to say it better at another point. Feel free to leave your opinion below, I’d be really interested to see your stance on it.