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Global issue 20

Global Insight Women Feminism is for men too Feminism is an emotive term that many people – men and women – don’t want to be associated with. That’s just because its meaning has been lost through so much petty squabbling Kate Bystrova The term feminism has a bad rap in some arenas. When it comes to discussing it, many articles in the Western media begin with the question “why is feminism a dirty word?” – and there is good reason for this. Speaking with young women in the UK you will often hear that yes, they believe in equality, but “I’m not a feminist”. “The problem with feminism isn’t with the idea itself, but everything that surrounds it. From the misunderstanding of what the term actually means, to the idea that it is only for women,” writes Jack Fletcher in The Huffington Post. “In fact, feminism is a threat to the way things have been for centuries, one which affects the demographic I belong to particularly: the white, straight, middle-class male.” The dictionary definition of feminism states its aim as achieving equality between men and women. But there is a distinct difference between the dictionary definition of feminism and how it is perceived and sometimes practised in the real world. As with all groups, feminists encompass different schools of thought, from extremists to those who loudly advocate for the cause without actually understanding its premise. For instance, a graduate I met in 2014, who identified as a feminist rather vocally, often went headfirst into gender-related discussions by loudly announcing: “Women are better than men”. That is not what feminism is. Even in its heyday, feminism was never that popular, as playwright and pastor Kristine Holmgren writes in The Guardian: “Make no mistake, the work we did to bring about social change was done at great personal sacrifice. Every time a woman rose to speak for freedom of choice, a personal reputation was ruined. Even so, my generation of women thought nothing of defending the rights of other women at the price of our own futures.” For many people, feminism is synonymous with pedantry, misandry and overreaction. In the West many think that we reached and 22 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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