Feminism Is for Everybody
And Why It’s Important to Talk About It
I’ve often encountered people who’ve strongly stated that feminism is just a group of angry women who hate men; women who would rather overpower the male population rather than work alongside them as equals.
These are the kinds of people that call feminists “feminazis,” and those who state that feminists disregard the struggles that men go through as well. The list goes on, but I digress.
I’m here to talk about feminism, and how it benefits everybody, and is inclusive for all genders. I was surprised when I was first told this some years ago. But like almost everything in life, being a feminist is a learning process.
I noticed a flux of people who were saying things like “I’m not a feminist because I believe in equality for all genders!” Did you know that that’s what feminism is? Or at the very least, what it’s supposed to be.
Feminism today aims to even out the playing field for everyone, so that we can all be paid equally and be considered as equals among our peers in any field. Feminism today also aims to break gender binaries, allowing for anyone to dress the way they want, talk how they want, or even like whatever they want, without being judged or discriminated against.
Feminism aims to destroy the patriarchy—the enemy of all genders, not just women. The patriarchy tells us that men aren’t allowed to like the colour pink or feel emotional, cannot be victims of sexual violence, and must be the breadwinners in families. On the other hand, the patriarchy tells women that they must produce babies like it’s their birthright, know their place which is in the shadow of men, and are blamed for being sexually harassed or raped because of the way they dressed which, as we all know, obviously means she was asking for it.
As inclusive as the feminist movement is supposed to be, a lot of men feel intimidated by it and do not feel welcome in conversations revolving around feminist issues. Sometimes a genuine question about feminism can be met with hostility.
Perhaps this contributes to the negative perception of feminism, or perhaps why they think feminism is solely for women. It’s because of this hostile reaction that people don’t talk about it as much as we should, leaving people to make their own negative assumptions about it.
“When I think of feminism, I think of the struggle to bring equality to the way that we treat different genders,” artist and game developer Louis Sciannamblo said. “It’s trying to address a problem that exists in our society. That we don’t treat men and women equally, and the way that we
treat either gender is based on old stigmas and rules.” Sciannamblo identifies as a straight cisgendered man. In his work, he aims to create strong and diverse characters.
Feminism, Sciannamblo said, benefits men in terms of taking off a lot of unhealthy expectations that are impressed upon them, being able to have healthier relationships with their partners and with themselves, and breaks the notion of what it means to “be a man.”
“It lets us know that it’s okay to be emotional, caring and loving, and not have to be stern and intense all the time. That it’s okay to lean on people for help as a good thing and not being perceived as weak for doing so.”
Cutting men off from the conversation is counterproductive—it only creates more hostility and keeps everyone in a stagnant state. Making information and conversation accessible is key to moving forward in this case.
I learned about feminism when I was in CEGEP, only getting a rough idea of exactly what the fight was for. I remember making a comment like, “Yeah, men have issues, but they’re not as bad as women’s!” The person who I said this to had made an unhappy face, and I wondered why.
Luckily, I had people I could approach and talk about these things with, allowing me to grow and learn.
The same can be said for Max Bradley, an experimental filmmaker in the process of completing their master’s degree in filmmaking at Université de Montréal. Bradley identifies as non-binary.
“Feminism is a movement to end all oppression” —Olivier Leon Porter
“A lot of people consider feminism to be a movement that’s meant to give power to women, but really it’s another word that advocates for equality between all genders,” Bradley explained in French. “I think it’s an important and essential fight. It is first and foremost a fight to attain equality between all genders.”
Lately, Bradley said, transgender and non-binary folks are a part of feminist conversations. “I don’t think that feminism is hostile towards transgender or non-binary people, but it’s a new fight that’s growing in parallel to feminism, and feminism gives us a platform to be able to talk about these issues.”
“I think we can implement some talks about feminism in school, particularly primary school to talk about gender equality to children at a young age,” Bradley said on peacefully spreading the word about feminism. “Maybe introduce some prominent non-binary or transgender characters in television shows, which the media is already trying to do with homosexuality.”
“Feminism is a movement to end all oppression,” Oliver Leon Porter, who is genderfluid, said. Leon Porter stated that they believe it’s important to talk about feminism and inclusivity as much as possible, agreeing that it should be more widespread in all spaces as well so as to better educate people on the issues.
“I think people don’t tend to have a basic definition of what feminism is, so they believe the stereotypes that they see. A common example of this is [the image of] bra-burning women who hate men.”
Leon Porter went on to explain that perhaps people have a negative view on feminism because people are scared of people challenging the gender binary and the social norms. “I think people are just freaked out when other people upset the status quo. It’s really just a fear problem, a fear of difference. I want to have a feminism that celebrates diversity rather than celebrating sameist [sic].”
Overall, all these people that I spoke with agreed that it’s important to just talk about feminism and make it as inclusive as possible. Hateful comments that alienatespecific groups really just mislead people into thinking that feminism hates all other genders save for women, which definitely is not what feminism is.
When you push anyone away from the conversation, explaining that they can’t talk about feminism because they can’t relate or understand, then you’re just missing out on the opportunity to educate people.
The best remedy for ignorance is to talk about it openly. Shutting people out is probably the worst thing people can do. Had I not had anyone to talk to about it in CEGEP, I either wouldn’t know what feminism was, or I would have continued to think that it was only about women. So let’s talk. All of us.