A few months ago, a good hometown buddy of mine decided to host a game night for a small group of male friends, his girlfriend, and myself. I had known the host since kindergarten and most of the others for a few years.
After arriving and mulling over our options, we quickly settled on a classic in recent years- Cards Against Humanity. The host had recently purchased an expansion pack for the game, containing cards that were completely unseen by the entirety of the group.
Naturally, this sparked excitement and tension. Once we began, we were having a pretty good time… then one of the white cards in the pile was labeled “Feminism.”
After some light, passable comments from others in the male-dominated group, the only woman in the room turned to everyone and said, smiling:
I hate feminism.
It shocked me to hear a woman my age say those words.
She may have said it simply because she was the only woman at the table, surrounded by young men whom she knew were all born and raised in a very Republican county. But there was an unmistakable conviction in her tone. She meant what she said.
From what I saw, her remark was met with positive feedback from the remainder of the group. I chose to withhold my reaction and feelings. Who was I to ruin game night?
So we went on, of course, and I had a lovely time surrounded by friends.
Since then, I’ve spent a decent chunk of time thinking about why some people have a vendetta against feminism, and why most of those people, (in my experience, at least) seem to be male, Republican, or both.
I couldn’t keep my early thoughts from circling. “Does she really mean she’s against equality for men and women? Equal pay for equal work? Justice against harassment and assault? Freedom to choose over your own body? Political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes? She hates it?”
To put it simply… I don’t think so. I don’t believe that she actually hates feminism, nor the goals of the movement, and I also think that might apply to a fair amount of people who “hate feminism.”
The fact of the matter is that a lot of people believe in feminist values, but avoid the feminist label. I think that many people out there like and want equal rights for men and women, but simply don’t proclaim themselves as feminists.
But why not? And why is it mostly men and/or Republicans/those who fall Conservative on the political spectrum that seem to make up the smallest demographic of the feminist movement? Though technically two separate questions, I believe their answers fall hand in hand.
Let’s start politically: Democrats and Republicans in all their differences are advocates for equal rights. It’s just that a lot of people, especially on the Republican side, believe that the U.S. has done enough for gender equality.
This poll by PEW Research Center states that Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say that more work is needed to reach gender equality.
Surely, there are thousands of male and female Republicans in the U.S. who want equal rights for men and women. They just think the work is done! Neglect research and facts because hey, it’s just fake news.
A main reason why men generally might not be keen on feminism is that a lot of them see feminists as their opposition. They might see feminists as men haters, hypocrites, and power hungry. But there’s a simple reply to this:
How feminism as a movement has been enacted is not the same thing as feminism.
The above quote is from Kathy Caprino, Forbes Senior Contributor and naturally, proud feminist. Her article gives more direct reasons as to why people might hate the term feminism and the feminist movement. Here’s her top reason:
Feminism has been associated with strong, forceful and angry women, and our society continues to punish forceful women. (So much recent data and research has proven this.)
From my experience, this is the main reason as to why more men are not feminists. Many proven studies show people view a forceful woman in a much worse light than they view a forceful man.
Undoubtedly, this may be a subconscious bias for some people. But if that bias were erased, I think there would be a lot more feminists in the world today.
“But Hudson,” you might say. “That’s stupid and unrealistic.”
To which I would reply, “Okay rude, but yeah. You’re right.”
Many biases are impossible to remove completely. Sometimes, the best we can do is be aware of them and try to act as objectively as possible. That in itself would make a noticeable and positive impact in all regards of life.
My belief is that everyone who supports equal rights and opportunities for the sexes is a feminist, whether you say it or not. And those who do not, aren’t.
I think that it’s possible for anyone to be advocates for feminism regardless of political party or gender, and I also think that there should be many, many more of them. But I also think that there may be more feminists out there than we think.
They just don’t know it yet.
I still look back at that night sometimes and can’t help believing that the world could be a much better place if people were more open to new perspectives.
We hold our steadfast, inflexible opinions close to our hearts. We don’t want to take the time to revise. We lack empathy. It’s hard not to. There are too many terrible things happening in the world right now, and it can numb those who aren’t directly being affected.
Not to mention, opinions today are hard. People bash whatever you believe. Unpopular and controversial opinions are even harder.
History says that people will be better with time. Sooner or later, just about everyone ends up on the right side.
It’s just a matter of sooner… or later.
Equal pay for equal work. Justice against harassment and assault. Freedom to choose over your own body. Political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. These are things that women don’t have; these are things that women deserve…
And they’re objectively worth fighting for.5
Also published on Medium.