Deconstructing the myth: Why no one can hold us down (and why we should all be supporting one another)

Sian Irvine

We all love a viral video. Recently, I’ve seen one doing the rounds- shared by male and female friends alike- called “Girl DESTROYS feminism in 3 minutes”. The first few times I saw it being shared, I ignored it- knowing it would irritate me, inwardly sighing that people actually saw any sense in this…but scrolling past nonetheless. But, eventually, as these things always do, it got to me. I caved in and watched it. Much like with the Twilight series, I felt that if I was about to shout something down, it would be best to educate myself on exactly what I was fighting again. So, I gritted my teeth and pressed play. You can watch the video for yourself here:

Deep breaths, Siân. Deep breaths. Where to start.

I think the thing that immediately struck me as frustrating is that the whole premise of this video is somehow legitimised because the subject is a young, attractive, seemingly intelligent female. Why would a girl “destroy” feminism, unless it really was worth destroying? Right?
The problem here is that every single point made in this video is in fact a feminist issue. Lets break them down:

“Why do we not see equal representation of both gender’s issues?”

Well, the answer to that question is quite simple, really. It cannot be disputed that historically, women have experienced far greater oppression than men- with everything from witch trials to the vote and everything in between. In contemporary times, the issues that feminism addresses are less about the big political movements and more about societal values and opinions towards women- but the premise is the same. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about votes for women or slut shaming, the fact of the matter is that we are fighting the idea that because it doesn’t affect everybody, it doesn’t matter. Feminism fights for women because it is a fight that needs to happen.
Aside from this, the terminology used here: “both gender’s issues”, is problematic because it is a blinkered view of the gender spectrum and eradicates those who don’t identify as male or female, or with their birth gender. This is important because feminism is, of course, for them as well.

“100,000-140,000 males are raped annually in US prisons. This is more males raped than females annually.”

Whilst it can’t be denied that rape is a big issue, if we were to pick this apart (and- let’s)- the statistics here are warped. 90% of prisoners in the USA are men, therefore of course the statistics will show that more men than women are raped in prison. Outside of this institution (and that’s not to say that rapes within a prison environment is not an issue in itself), 96% of recorded rapes are committed by men against women. The majority of rapes committed against males go unreported due to the stigma attached to the “demasculation” of the victims, which is in fact a feminist issue, because it is ridiculous to suggest that rape is a crime committed exclusively against women- insinuating that any male who has experienced rape is “less of a man”.
To defer back to the original statistic of rape within the institution of prison, it might be more relevant to consider that 100% of rapes committed in an all-male prison will be committed by males, which leads us to the more universal issue of why men rape, rather than focusing on who the victim is. The bottom line is that all rape cases should be taken seriously, and focused on the perpetrator- not the victim, not the victims gender.

“Despite being half the victims [of domestic violence], they are basically ignored”

Similarly to the issue of victims of male rape feeling that they can’t report the crime, the issue here stems from the idea of gender stigmatisation. Male victims of domestic violence go unnoticed because it is not deemed that “the weaker sex” can perpetuate such a crime, and certainly not against males- who “should” be able to- what? Fight it off, defend themselves? Yes, the facilities for male victims of violence are lacking. This is a feminist issue. It is problematic that being seen as weak- a feminine trait, is so frowned upon by society that we choose to ignore that it happens at all.

“Yet, feminists continue to place this blanket judgment over all men that they are all privileged and that all women are all oppressed.”

This point in itself is flawed, as the concept of privilege doesn’t work in such a basic format. A white female will experience privilege over a black male, due to the colour of her skin, but will still experience oppression because of her gender. The black male will benefit from his gender, but experience oppression because of his skin colour. This idea of intersectionality is many layered, and applies to all minority groups, including (but not exclusive to): the disabled community, people of Colour, the gay community, and the trans community. It is important to understand that many people will experience oppression in some ways and privilege in others- and, indeed, that many people will experience more than one kind of oppression. This point is illustrated rather nicely by this video from Buzzfeed:

“Yet, as a woman I will almost always win custody of children in a divorce case. I will receive less than half the sentence as man does for the exact same crime and actually have my rape and assault accusations taken seriously, and I won’t be laughed at for not being manly enough. With one quick Google search I can find a Safe House in my area if I have been in an abusive relationship. As a woman, I am more likely to get a government or military job despite qualifications just to fill a quota due to affirmative action. And I am also more likely to get into university because of my gender.”

Again, all feminist issues. It is important to be mindful at all times of why we fight for the things we are fighting for. A fathers’ role in a family is important- and in fact, the Women’s Equality Party are striving for equal parenting rights. Gender should bear no relevance in relation to any crime committed. Safe houses should be available to all, regardless of gender. In terms of equal opportunity policies, it is important to remember that they are there for a reason- there would be no need for them if the groups they were designed for had not historically been oppressed. There are also equal opportunity policy laws for people of Colour, and those with disabilities.

“My point is that both genders have issues, and to argue that feminism is a movement for equality and doesn’t just represent one genders’ issues is, quite frankly, ridiculous- so this is why I’m not a feminist.”

Feminism is, and always has been, a movement which aims to bring about social, political and economic equality of the sexes. This is not representing only one genders issues- it simply means that men have the privilege here, and we are aiming for an equal playing field. In striving for equality, it is important to elevate the oppressed group, listen to what needs to change, and address this- even if it means addressing some uncomfortable truths within our society. This doesn’t mean that groups who aren’t affected are to be ignored or are irrelevant. In the case of feminism, overcoming gender stereotypes does have just as many benefits for men as it does women.

My overall message here is that we don’t need to perceive feminism as a bad thing- it isn’t!Feminism is great, empowering, uplifting- it is such an important movement for all members of society. Unfortunately, it does also seem to be the only equal rights movement that people see the need to “deconstruct”. I mean no disrespect to Lauren Southern, the author of the video, with this post, I just think it’s important to address these misconceptions as these are the things that hold us back from reaching equality for everybody. At the end of the day, both she and I live in a society that has absolutely reaped the benefits of feminism. I see no need to stop where we are.

6 thoughts on “Deconstructing the myth: Why no one can hold us down (and why we should all be supporting one another)

  1. I am also an ardent feminist. Its just that the message of feminism is wrongly perceived and in place of speeding equal rights what women are spreading is misandry. BTW loved your post💙

    Like

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Aastha :) We totally agree with you- It is really unfortunate that the message is wrongly percieved, one of our aims is to make the idea of feminism more accessible and dispelling any ideas of extremism or man hating. Just had a look at your blog and it’s fabulous. If you’re ever interested in writing a guest post for us just drop us a line on ultravenus.magazine@gmail.com
      -Sian xx

      Like

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