Feminism is Not a Bad Word
We’ve talked a lot over the past few weeks about #gamergate, Anita Sarkeesian, and Zoe Quinn. Recently, they were accused of lying about the threats they were receiving, and of course we have all been accused of trying to kill the entire gaming industry. Zoe and Anita have had to deal with a very public mess of threats, and rather than take that seriously, people still want to stick their heads in the sand and say it’s not really happening.
This week, Emma Watson gave a speech about feminism to the UN. I thought it was a pretty good speech. She said she decided she was a feminist and that seemed “uncomplicated” to her. In the same sense, I found her speech pretty uncomplicated. She was asking for equal rights after all. That’s what we want. As far as I can tell, she’s not connected to the gaming industry, but our goals are similar, even though our goals include equal representation in video games. But, then she was threatened with the exposure of nude photos. I want to say, of course she was threatened with the exposure of nude photos, but I can’t because I was honestly surprised by these threats. Even though this now appears to have been a PR stunt, I’m still disturbed that there are people out there whose minds work this way. And, that’s scary.
I have no idea why I was surprised. I see this everyday. Whether it’s high profile or everyday interaction in real life or through internet comments, women are constantly dismissed or threatened whether they say something or not. But, I don’t get the anger over Emma Watson’s speech. If women are paid equal to men, will that mean men make less? (Probably not, given I wrote “equal”). If women can walk down the street unafraid, does that mean men have to be afraid? I mean, come on. What is so threatening about the equality of women?
Emma Watson spent some time trying to move perception of the word “feminist” away from the negative stereotype. The negative stereotype of feminazi, man-hating bitch exists, but that’s not what feminism is about. I see this definition coming out in some of the responses in this Time article quoting celebrities on the issue of feminism, and I find some of the quotes disappointing. Buried within some of the disappointing “I’m not a feminist” responses, such as Shailene Woodley’s, I see the tension between the negative stereotype with the goals of feminism:
“No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance…My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism.”
I could change that to “yes, I’m a feminist because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from power’ is ridiculous because you need balance.” For me, feminism has nothing to do with taking anything away from men, and everything to do with equal rights.
A nude photo leak is humiliating and rape and death threats are terrifying. I truly don’t understand what is so threatening about equal rights that leads people to behave this way. But, I feel, in part, it comes down to not listening, whether that refusal to listen stems from a fear that men might actually lose rights or whether it stems from a fear that people might realize that they actually haven’t treated women very well, I don’t really know. But, everyday I see evidence that people aren’t listening, such as this blog post discussing how exhausting it is to constantly have to explain feminism. The author writes,
I’m tired of men who insert themselves into feminist spaces with claims of hurt feelings. I’m tired of men who somehow manage to make every issue about them. I’m tired of men like the one who recently stopped by a friend’s Facebook thread in order to call feminism “cunty,” then lecture the women involved for being too “hostile” in their responses to him. I’m tired of men telling me that my understanding of feminism and rape culture are wrong, as if these aren’t things that I have studied intensely.
And, the very first comment is from a man telling her she is “probably wrong.” Way to listen, dude. How can we ever get anywhere if people won’t even listen to the actual goals and definition of feminism?