Yes, I am a feminist. No, I don´t hate men. Are you?
I am absolutely not a feminist, I am against stupidity, and if it comes from males or females, it does not change anything. If it means that women and men, they are equal, then OK, certainly I am a feminist-Marjane Satrapi-
I was raised by a strong and confident woman- my inspiration, critic and biggest fan- my mother and the most loving, tender, and respectful father, whose sixth love (after wife, mother, father, daughter, and son) is music. Without even realizing it, I was raised by parents who intentionally shaped the perception of myself as a powerful, independent, and can-achieve-anything-in-the-world girl. Not until my mid-twenties, when I could actually name it- FEMINIST. My parents raised me to be a feminist without even knowing it. Three years ago, I decided to call myself proudly, loudly, and officially a FEMINIST. But here it gets complicated.
Who is a feminist? What is feminism? Are you even a feminist? You are not a real feminist! Are you really a feminist?!
So I dare to label myself as feminist because I was raised to become an independent and emancipated woman? YES. I am because that is what I am becoming and with confidence, I claim the right to fully enjoy my basic human rights. But mostly, I want, that all women and girls in the world have the same opportunities as I do. I have faced way too many (as probably every woman mentioning to be a feminist) rejection, bias, condemnation after even pronouncing that “TERM” during some conversations. I am sure, these anti-feminists’ friends of mine have their own opinion about me (let them have it). After these kinds of confronting conversations back then, I realized, I must stop talking to be a feminist with people who have as same no-in-depth knowledge about feminism as me. But in order to be able to defend myself, my stand, and my reasoning, I needed arguments, a definition (which is actually not that simple). I needed to do my research, readings, history, current developments first. I started, but it is run for a long haul.
I would argue, that this is one of the hardest parts of the movement. I would compare it to religion. There is one ultimate goal, but so many different ways of achieving it. So, that´s how I see feminism. Not all feminists are using the same means, tools, arguments, behavior to achieve that one ultimate goal “EQUALITY”. Therefore, it is so hard to lead a discussion if some opponents have information on one or two (usually the most extreme) groups of feminists and label the rest of us with the same stempel. Imagine, for example, the word “terrorist”, who do you picture? In the US exists two common yet false narratives about terrorists who attack America. We all see them on television, on the news, and in the movies. The first false narrative is that “terrorists are always (brown) Muslims.” The second is that “white people are never terrorists” The same attitudes apply towards the feminism movement. For example, the opposition argument expressed that “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” Pat Robertson famously said this in the 90s, and the sentiment still rings as true in the ears of many today. Have you not met with the argument “so you hate all men then” simply said. So it goes like this “some feminists hate men” and therefore “all feminists hate men”. FALSE. Because a number of feminists hating-on men are existing, the rest of the movement is labeled as such.
Feminists do not hate men.
This is one of many fallacies, that people chose to listen rather than open their eyes and ears for a better definition than this. When talking about extreme feminists, they do exist. Just search on Google “radical feminism” and you can find a delightful collection of quotes. Like Valerie Solanas expressed “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo. It’s often said that men use women. Use them for what? Surely not pleasure.” To look up examples of “feminists” who hate men is really not that hard. But there is a difference between “feminists” and “misandrists”. Yes, misandrist is a word. It is like misogynist but instead of women-hating men. I think it is necessary to differentiate between these two in order to exclude the radical feminism and get to the real aim of feminism. Feminist does not mean a person “who hates men”.
Feminist is a person “who believes people should have equitable places in society regardless of their gender”.
To conclude, not all feminists hate men, but some feminists may also be misandrists.
I am feminist, but I do not hate men. I always considered them as much equally needed piece for our better world, personal lives, and societies as women. When I first purchased a number of books on feminism, my boyfriend confronted me with nothing but a weird smile. Ou good, he gives me time to read my books, I thought. A few days later, he did not open the door for me as he always used to. “What is it about? Can´t hold a door for me?” guess what was his response “well, you are a feminist now, so you can just do it for yourself, right? You do not need me for that.” Disagreement and lost conversation just left us with unspoken grief and disappointment on both sides. I was confused about why does he think I do not need him anymore and he perceived my new passion for feminism as offensive towards him and men. Because I thought they are “worthless and to blame”. Right there I realized, we need to have a conversation based on real arguments rather than “you hate men..you think we are worthless and to blame..you want to be independent, so you do not need me”.
Was my boyfriend anti-feminist? I can´t define that, but he definitely identified to some degree with anti-feminists who like to cherry-pick quotes and ignore the number of feminist writings, people, and organizations that say otherwise. As explained before, some individual feminists hate men. And as a matter of fact, a lot of feminists hate men. As my boyfriend before, you might also argue based on what you have read on the internet that most feminists hate men. But it is irrelevant.
In the absolute core of feminism, only what matters is gender equity.
You can find countless definitions for feminism, the one I personally identify is expressed by journalist and activists Scarlett Curtis “ Feminism is a centuries-old social movement fighting for the equality of the sexes…Intersectional feminists believe that all people are entitled to the same rights, and they fight to end all discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture and lifestyle”  I am one of those, I am one of the most feminists who actively disagree with the opinion that women are better than men. Those anti-men feminists (misandrists) are going against the fundamental principles of feminism. So remember, man-hating is not part of that goal and it is just an unfortunate reactionary sentiment bought into by some individuals (misandrists) who identify with the feminist movement too. Feminism is fighting not only for equal rights of women but including all human beings- women, men, trans- who should be treated as deserving and worthy human beings.
I believe, this is the definition most of feminists, not-give-a-damn feminists or whoever with a flair for humanity can identify to some degree. As much as my boyfriend. The argument raises, when I present the second part of the definition, which I also identify with. Bell Hooks more specifically expressed it when she said: “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression”  Then my boyfriend tells me “ You come from Slovakia, we are living in Denmark and in both countries women have right to vote, drive the cars. Slovakia has a women president and Danish prime minister is women too! Why do we need feminism? What do you want to fight for?”
To conclude this article and point of “why I am a feminist and will continue to be one” is simple. My boyfriend is right, we are so incredibly lucky to live in countries where women have a great life and opportunities. But the sad fact is, that not all women have the same rights across the world. According to the latest data, 50% of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls aged fifteen or younger; globally, over 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; and 131 million girls worldwide are out of school. Girls are 1.5 times more likely than boys to not attend primary school. That is 15 million girls of primary-school-age who do not have the chance to access basic education and to learn how to write and read, compared to 10 million boys. The gender pay gap is estimated to be 23%, which means that women earn 77% of what men earn.
Yes, I am privileged,
because my parents raised me to be independent and strong women in the country which gave me the opportunities to flourish and develop. And does it mean, that I am done with fighting because I live in the country where gender inequalities are reduced to the minimum? No. As Sacarlett Courtis said: “A feminist who only fights for the lives of women like herself isn’t fighting for everyone” So as Scarlett, and other feminists coming from privileged backgrounds, I am too going to keep going at this feminism thing until ALL women have the same access to basic human rights.
We are not done.
I started to call myself a feminist three years ago, but it took me quite a long time to understand what it is about. The journey has begun, but there is so much more to learn and understand. There are so many unclear questions, numbers, goals. Can I, as an individual, even change something? Is this feminism really needed? Well, when the opponent attacks me with the gender pay gap is bullshit in developed countries, I stop right here because I do not even dare to simplify it to “men earn more than women for the same work”. I do not even know where to start to understand this complex and confusing data. This notion, that there is no such thing as the gender pay gap and what you even fighting for, will not stop me from believing, that there is still much more to fight for. I still have to fight for more knowledge and facts to understand the complexity of all inequalities. But while there are millions of women and girls who can´t get an education, or must get married at the age of 15, it is enough for me to know, what I am fighting for, while admitting, that there more complex problems I still can´t explain and argue for. We did not reach equality for everybody and we are not done here quite yet.
1. Caroline Mala Corbin, Terrorists Are Always Muslim but Never White: At the Intersection of Critical Race Theory and Propaganda, 86 Fordham L. Rev. 455 (2017), ( available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol86/iss2/5/ )
2. Pat Robertson, Robertson Letter Attacts Feminists, The New York Times, (available at: https://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/26/us/robertson-letter-attacks-feminists.html )
3. Scarlett Courtis, Feminists Comebacks, (available at: https://www.worldbookday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Feminists-Dont-Wear-Pink-Extract.pdf )
4. Bell Hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, South End Press Cambridge, 2000, p.viii
5. Facts and Figures, UN Women, (available at: https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/youth/facts-and-figures )
6. Scarlett Courtis, Feminists Comebacks, (available at: https://www.worldbookday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Feminists-Dont-Wear-Pink-Extract.pdf )