Some thoughts about feminism

feminismI see myself as a feminist,meaning that I think men and women ought to have equal rights and possibilities; I can see that we don’t, and I want to change that. In our enlightened day and age (and society) few people would object to this. However, the feminist movement has grown to be much more than this key value, it has developed many branches that often contradict each other and as a result “I’m a feminist” can hold many meanings, of which not all are sympathetic.

The hardships of my sisters
Living in Sweden, I assume the label “Swedish feminist” not be inaccurate. As a such, I’m spoiled, because apparently I live in one of the most gender equal countries in the world. It is something to be proud of, and it wouldn’t have been possible if Swedish feminists had not been engaged and multiple. A bit too engaged, sometimes. A bit too engaged, in the wrong issues. Are we restless? Have nothing to fight for? There are certainly battles to be fought, and mostly I consider it a good thing that feminists continue to work for an equal society. But sometimes it derails completely.

Objectification and its consequences
There is one problem typically associated with the western society of today: objectification. Seeing a person as a body rather than a thinking, feeling organism. This is a problem. Rapes, I suspect, are often committed by men (now I contribute to the male norm by writing men instead of people – but seriously, when did you last hear of a female rapist?) who don’t care to see their victim as having a mind equal to their own – they see them as just a body, a tool to satisfy their lusts.

On a smaller scale, a lot of advertising do the exact same thing. People become tools, objects. Objects become emotions, people. They aren’t – they shouldn’t be.

Treating the symptoms
Any doctor can tell you that using nose spray when you have a cold will relieve your respiratory passages but not do anything to get rid of the virus that caused them to swell.

Feminism is to wage war on a society that is geared against women. The basic structures of a society can be difficult – not impossible, just slow and difficult – to change, whereas the things that these patterns lead to can be alterable. Of course, if symptoms are all we can treat – we should do it. When the symptom is harming us or when treating it will eventually make the disease go away.

One example is parental leaves, because it’s so unfair that only women have the ability to carry a fetus within her body for nine months! Another (ridiculous) one is traffic lights – nowadays they install half and male half female. The female ones look like the males, but have longer hair and skirts – never mind that women can wear pants and pixie cuts.

I understand that male traffic lights is a sign of a society where “male” too often translates to “normal”. However, I don’t think new traffic lights have the power to change any deeper structures. I actually think it can do the opposite, by confusing pedestrians and by pissing people off. And this silly little thing (and many other of similar importance) is stealing focus from the real problems.

Where feminism is much needed
So what, then, is the real problem?

All the examples below are symptoms of a disease that could be called Patriarchy. They could of course also be the outcome of religious oppression, poor education or something else – one thing leads to another. 

  • A top politician in Poland recently said women should not have the right to vote.
    http://sz-n.com/2014/04/leader-of-polands-euro-sceptic-party-believes-women-should-not-have-right-to-vote/
  • In Iran, girls can be given a death sentence at the age of nine (boys at the age of fifteen). I’m against death sentences in general, even more so when they are given to children. So from that perspctive, it’s just the tip of an iceberg that girls are affected worse.
    http://www.svd.se/nyheter/utrikes/3677232.svd
  •  In neighbouring Iraq, it will soon be legal for girls to get married – or be forced to get married– at the age of nine. Nine. That’s several years before most of them will have their first period, several years before they are old, strong or wise enough to manage a house hold, several years before they would be finished with their education (if, of course, they had the chance of education in the first place), several years before they are done playing with Tamagotchis or whatever else girls that age like to do. At nine there are several years before they are likely to have a hunch about who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/iraq-jafari-law-child-marriage–560422
  • This list has some more examples.

A step in the wrong direction, you might say. Or, perhaps, a leap.

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