I wonder why many men (and even many women) get so riled up and offended at the word, “feminist.” The most obvious reason is that the word’s opponents feel insecure at the word’s focus on women– they feel like it’s an injustice to leave men out. Another is that people assume that “feminism” equates to female domination. And another is that people just don’t think that women’s issues are secondary to other issues, and/or that they actually support the oppression of women and want to keep society in a way that keeps men in a dominant position over women. And of course, there are people who don’t want to acknowledge their own faults into the system and culture, and in the classic way that men like to invalidate women, they deem that women are “overdramatic” and and too “emotional.” Yet ironically, these certain men are the kinds who deflect from the problems as they contribute to them through invalidating, gendered insults like these.
Feminism, in its definition, is a movement that serves to promote equality among all genders– among both women and men. It doesn’t mean “female domination.”
It seeks to promote gender equality among both women and men. If that’s the case, then others question why the term is called “feminism,” with the root word “fem” being there instead of a more gender-neutral term.
This focus on women is focus of those who societies and those in power systemically and culturally attempt to and act to disadvantage. This is whether that society is in Western countries, African countries, Asian countries, Middle Eastern countries. It is women who primarily suffer in the specific societies that advantage men and seek to oppress women.
That is why this fight for gender equality and equity is called feminism. Why should anyone be offended by this term, especially when it brings attention to the oppressed in a blunt, realistic way?
Like with any kind of movement that seeks to recognize and uplift marginalized and/or oppressed groups, there is always opposition by those who seek to victimize the oppressors and/or deny the brevity of the issues at hand brought to more attention through the movements.
It’s interesting when these same people don’t get riled up with humankind being referred to as “mankind” or with referring to a person of any gender as “he” when referring to hypothetical situations.
Another reason for the opposition to this term is because of the fear of being associated by society to a certain image of “radical” or “extreme” feminists– those who fall into the categories of promoting the supremacy of women over men, or those who promote white feminism. For example, it’s a common trope for Western feminists to assume that Muslim women are oppressed if they choose to wear a headscarf. Interesting how these “feminists” promote “my body, my choice”– except when it comes to a woman making a choice on her own that they personally do not see themselves making.
Would using a different term in place of “feminism” actually help feminist movements, gender equality and gender equality movements, gain more traction?
Even with the absence of the word, “feminism,” people would still be averse to the addressing of injustices, oppressions and rights that pertain to women and girls specifically. This especially is true of those who actively seek to keep women in an inferior position to men in society. This especially applies to those who will continually try to victimize the oppressor– it’s no surprise that societies such as the United States have systems that prioritize male rapists over their victims as well as how the USA is ready to victim-blame women rape victims for the disgusting actions of their rapists.
For those who believe in gender equality and gender equity, but shy away from calling themselves feminists, it’s interesting because they are feminists, by definition– but they are hesitant and intimidated by labeling themselves as feminists because of what others think– even because of those who are ignorant of the term or in willful denial of the term and the very real issues that the term seeks to acknowledge. These non-feminist feminists want to downplay their belief of gender equality and their recognition of the oppression of women.
Why is that?
Perhaps they’re more concerned with what others will think over the importance of acknowledging and openly supporting the real issues at hand.
Or they simply just don’t care enough.
Ideally, someone who believes in equality and equity among people of all genders, and believes in respecting women in a society that seeks to dehumanize them and subordinate them, shouldn’t be scared about voicing their feminist support. They should be more scared about the results of staying elusive and silent about the necessity of feminism.