Feminism, Ryan Gosling Style

ryan gosling hey girl feminism suitI usually think that these memes are absurdly lame, but this quote is far too awesome to keep to myself. Fantastic, isn’t it?

However, I’d hate to post it without some sort of commentary. So. For those of you who may not know, “feminists” are not people who think that women are better than men, and despite what some may claim, feminism is not a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Although upending democracy and heralding a new age of matriarchal vengeance would be simply fantastical, that’s not what feminists are about. Simply put, feminism is about equality, and feminists believe that men and women should be given access to the same opportunities.

Now then, ask yourself, “do I think that men and women should be treated equally?” Did you answer “yes” to that question? If so, congratulations, you are a feminist.

Of course, in practice, feminism is a little more complicated than simply a belief in equality. For example, most argue that feminists are not concerned with men’s right, but that they focus only on the ways in which women are oppressed and denied access to basic, fundamental rights. I understand why people think this way, but this is ultimately a false perception.

To better understand why some think that feminists are only concerned about women’s rights, let’s turn to the issue of LGBTQ rights. This summer, I participated in several events aimed at promoting the rights of LGBTQ individuals. That doesn’t mean that I only support LGBTQ rights, or that I am not aware of the oppression faced by non-LGBTQ individuals. Rather, at the moment, LGBTQ individuals face more forms of social and political oppression than many other groups in society. Consequently, more protests and discussions will be centered on their rights than on, say, the rights of straight individuals…that is why I have attended several rallies supporting LGBTQ rights and none promoting rights for straight people. In the same way, historically, women have faced more social, political, and economic limitations than men. As such, many people who are concerned about equality focus on women’s rights, but (and this is the key) that doesn’t mean that they don’t care about men’s rights, or that they prioritize women.

Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that, when it first got its footing in the nineteenth century, feminism was primarily (perhaps even exclusively) focused on ensuring equality for white, middle-class women; however, it has since expanded to be more comprehensive and inclusive (and less hypocritical). As Webster notes, “a third wave of feminism arose in the late 20th century and was notable for challenging middle-class white feminists and for broadening feminism’s goals to encompass equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed, economic or educational status, physical appearance or ability, or sexual preference.”

So that’s where we are now. No hating families. No leaving children. No destroying masculinity. No new age of matriarchal vengeance (alas).  Just equality.

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