The idea of feminism has always evoked mixed reactions among both men and women. People’s definitions of feminism are influenced by their upbringing, which in most cases, results in a negative depiction of feminism. Even though feminism is about equality and balanced gender roles that do not discriminate against women, it is not easy to change the perceptions and attitudes towards gender roles in modern society.
Society’s perception of feminism is a reminder of Roxane Gay’s statement in her book “Bad Feminist” that “rules will never change for girls no matter who they are or what they do.”
In modern society, men are celebrated more than women because they are perceived to provide greater value (Gay 2).
Since men are physically imposing and can work in challenging work environments, males are thought to be the better sex. Ironically, women occupy many high positions and perform better than men. In fact, studies conducted on money and asset managers have confirmed that while the former do not make outsize short-term returns, their long-term gains are consistently better than the average. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of these facts. According to (Paglia), it is the educated culture that has upheld such notions of masculinity.
What is essential in changing such perceptions is how people define feminism. As described by (Gay 2) feminism is about reconstructing the ossified social practices that have caused a lot of discrimination against women and it is not about attacking men.
It is possible to change society’s perceptions of feminism without necessarily stereotyping or belittling men. People need to understand that the obstructive tradition of natural labor division is the leading cause of discrimination against women (Gay 2). During the agrarian era, women remained at home to care for children while men engaged in hard labor. Therefore, women were protected from hard work (Gay 3). With modernization, however, such practices are perceived to be discriminatory. The idea of feminism fits with the modern context of fighting for women’s rights to change the status quo. Sexual revolution is a serious problem that afflicts the Anglo-American society (Paglia). Thus, feminism is needed to advocate for equal opportunities, negating the cult of beauty and thinness, promoting women’s reproductive freedom and condemning any form of violence against women (Gay 3). It does not matter whether it is good or bad feminism; the main idea is fighting for equality among men and women in all spheres of life.
Women continue to be disadvantaged as they are misrepresented in literature. Additionally, media often glorifies men than women. Feminist ideologies can address such issues. According to (Paglia) feminism main mission is to attack and also reconstruct the ossified feminist practices that have always discriminated women. However, this has not been the case. People opposing feminist ideologies believe that it does not address inequalities and injustices women face. Instead, feminism is viewed as an agenda to blame men for discriminating against women. Good feminism is about having a broader perspective of the heavy burden that women have to carry in the modern context (Gay 4). The contemporary woman is stronger and efficient because she can take care of children, and at the same time go to work, which means that she can balance both her personal life and her work life.
Being a feminist is more than just fighting for equality. It is about going through the hurdles of life in silence without complaining to exhibit strength. At the same time, women are expected to be aware of their limitations and admit that there are certain things they cannot handle and would need a helping hand from men. This does not necessarily mean that women are weak. It only implies that women should acknowledge the role that men play in society. Such a description of feminism contradicts the definition of a good feminist who is expected to be good at everything that men do (Gay 4). For example, a woman can be a good mechanic like any other man.
Good feminism is about comprising and not sacrificing. This implies that women are expected to work twice as hard as men to be recognized. However, such an idea creates fear among women who might end up not getting married as expected. The notion of proper feminism exerts pressure on women to live up to certain societal ideals (Gay 5). Thus, feminism cannot be taught, instead it flows form an instructive recognition of the sexual differences (Paglia). Lack of sexual differences is what makes feminism to be perceived as harmful because of the misconceived idea of being as good as men instead of fighting to achieve economic equality. It is not possible to create a society without men, and this makes them indispensable.
Bad feminists are not able to see the hard-working men and their role in shaping modern society. In Camille Paglia’s statement, “It’s a man’s world, and it always will be,” she acknowledges the role of men in society. Men engage in dirty and dangerous work of building roads, setting up electricity wires, excavating gas and other forms of hard work. Consequently, feminism is more than just fighting for equality. It should be about seeing through the broader cultural norms to find the right balance between men and women. As described by Roxanne, feminism is a choice, and whether people decide to be good or bad feminists, they should be aware of the need to adjust to the modern culture when defining the roles of women.
Gay, Roxanne. “Feminism (n.): Plural, “Bad Feminist: Take One,” and “Bad Feminist: Take Two.”
Paglia, Camille. “It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be,” Time, Dec. 16, 2013.