Over the course of the last few days, I've received a number of comments and messages suggesting that feminism is, to some degree, to blame for the blatant mistreatment of women on the Internet and IRL. Apparently, feminism is the culprit behind messages like this:
I need no further evidence of the fact that we remain trapped in a patriarchal society when I am told that my own empowerment is the reason for my suffering. When "feminist" is a bad word, an insult to be hurled rather than a badge to be (proudly) worn, it is painfully clear that we are nowhere near done battling.
I do not subscribe to the idea that there are "brands" of feminism. In the same way that I see no reason to differentiate between a "female feminist" and a "male feminist," there is (or should be) no siloing within the movement. We're fighting for the notion that men and women should be treated as equals — that is not to say "the same," as that conflation is made too often — but as human beings deserving of identical degrees of respect, opportunity and consideration.
That does not happen today. It has not happened ever.
That is why I was so bothered by the following sentiment, left in a comment on my "Why I'm doing this" post:
We do not have "a culture that self-empowers women for rejecting men." In fact, we do the opposite. Women with sexual agency, who have the nerve to embrace their sexuality, are sluts, whores, undesirables. Women who turn down unwanted advances are teases, are manipulative, are accused of leading men on. We've even developed a term for it — "friend-zoning." Women aren't allowed to just say no. We do not teach men to respect women. And too often, we don't teach women to respect themselves either.
Feminism is not an excuse for men to act like assholes.
Suggesting that an "indirect consequence" of women's empowerment is women's mistreatment is not only absurd, but also dangerously misguided. It is the ultimate slap in the face — the idea that with each step women as a whole take forward, they will have to suffer the results. That women are eternally doomed to abuse because in the very act of empowerment, something has shifted in the fundamental balance of the sexes, and men must reclaim their place on top.
Somehow, we have turned feminism into the plague. It is, naysayers say, the scourge that has relegated nice guys to finishing last, while rewarding pricks and douchebags for their impish behavior.
That isn't because of feminism. That's because feminism hasn't been fully embraced yet.
So don't blame feminism for what's happening on and offline. Instead, take it as a sign that we need feminism now more than ever.