Last week, I saw the below video posted by a couple of different people on Facebook. I’m interested to get the community’s take on it.
First of all, I’m not posting because I agree with what the speaker has to say. I anticipate that many of you will have an adverse reaction to it as well. But I encourage everyone to watch this and respond with an open mind. Consider that her heart seems to be in the right place, even if you don’t agree, and that what the disparity comes down to is more or less a question of definition.
The reason I’m making this the subject of my fourth post is that this particular definition matters. It matters big time. It filters into nearly every single discussion that takes place in this country on the subjects of equality, sexism or misogyny. If we’re going to talk about the issue in intelligent, rational terms, we have to come to a consensus on what this word means, how it should be used, and why it may or may not be the answer.
Basically, here is where I think Southern gets it wrong. I would define feminism in the following way – maybe this isn’t its typical definition, and perhaps it should be, but here goes:
Feminism is an ideology that supports and encourages the notion that women should, in all ways possible, be equal to men in opportunity and treatment as relates to forms of oppression that have been or are being perpetrated upon them by a more privileged class.
In other words…yes, men have their own issues. Yes, all of us should be concerned about those issues, and we should always strive to create a world of true equality and fairness, where tragedies should be minimized, whether they are gender-specific in nature, or whether they affect us all in similar numbers. But feminism is a movement that battles specifically against the wide-ranging effects of centuries-long subjugation, in which women have been treated largely as second-class citizens, or inferior beings. This history doesn’t feed into every issue, but it feeds into a lot of them. Objectification, unequal pay, discrimination, etc…these are all matters that affect women and are directly linked to a past (not to mention present) wrought with injustice.
Think about the ways blacks have been treated in our nation’s history. A black man or woman today, while they may never have been victims of slavery firsthand, are still suffering the lingering repercussions of our ancestors’ actions. If, more than anything else, they express their hope that they may eventually be on 100% equal footing with whites…does that mean they don’t recognize more white-specific issues, or that they don’t think they have validity? Does it mean they necessarily hate all whites, or wish them harm? Of course not. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as those growing up with and influenced by slavery’s domino effect, blacks today would be incredibly more focused on erasing the divide that has more significantly plagued them.
Not to compare the horrors of slavery with the plight of women, but I think feminism is about a similar struggle. It doesn’t ignore or negate other real-world problems; it just wants to shine a light on a particular flavor of injustice that is broadly overlooked or dismissed by many of those who have long held controlling interest in the direction of our country’s social progress.
Join the conversation here.