Why Feminism Doesn't Have to be a Bad Word {continued}

Friday, 31 July 2015

By Firoza Dodhi

                            Part Three

     Yet, an even deeper gender bias is engrained in our society. Emma Watson said beautifully in her HeforShe campaign: “We don't acknowledge how much pressure we put on men to conform to a certain perception of masculinity.” Watson raises an incredible point that the media often perpetuates a negative stereotype upon men as well—assigning emotions by gender. The blog ‘Everyday Feminism’ reflects multiple ideas about the unfortunate consequences of emotional policing. The blog notes a phenomenon Sandberg wrote about in Lean In; one, which was also reflected in the “Ban Bossy, I am a Boss” campaign. For females who act with confidence they are labelled as “bitchy”, whereas a man is labelled a leader. We do not allow women to take on leadership roles without a negative identification—forcing them to search for what Sandberg called ‘guilt management’. Alternatively, by dictating that men are supposed to behave in a controlling manner to be accepted as a leader or influential, society limits male opportunity to present more sensitive emotions. Being told to “man up” is unfair, because the phrase dictates that being a man relies on only certain physical identifiers—particular ways of behaving and responding to situations. The patriarchy is thus further perpetuated. There is an unquestionable implication of shame within the following phrase, one which we unfortunately here too often: “it was embarrassing that he cried, he behaved like a little girl/bitch.” Replacing the last word with woman can present the following conclusion: women become equated to negative/inferior beings and thus, men shouldn’t act like women. When women are emotional (and if women are bad), then men should not be emotional, because being emotional is bad. When written out this form of thinking doesn’t make a lot of sense, which makes me question the media’s motives for encouraging society to perpetuate such norms? 

     An avid Buzzfeed reader, I sometimes find myself rolling my eyes at the Facebook comments found below, but also at the articles I have clicked into. Take for instance; an article mocking actor Kit Harington’s displeasure at being was labelled a “hunk”. What I believe Buzzfeed missed was his displeasure with being solely associated, labelled or known for his physical attractiveness. Buzzfeed mocked him for facing ‘so many challenges of being extraordinarily attractive’, but again I think they missed the essence. It is the subtleties in conversation and nuanced language that often convey deeper objectification. By not appreciating individuals for their multidimensional characters—talents, flaws and abilities, we as a society manage to reduce their identities. Additionally, overt sexualisation of both males and females when done in a degrading way leads to objectification. 

Kit Harington

     No individual should be solely defined by their physicality—especially when they have worked to be recognized for their hard work and passion in something else. It isn’t fair and acceptable when a female is objectified as less of a person and more as a figment of a man’s ideal. Similarly, it cannot be equitable to do the same to men. As said in Everyday Feminism: “…when we are free to express and talk about emotions without having to fear compromising our identities, we create space for individuals and communities to be healthier and safer.”  

     Oftentimes I veer away from writing articles such as this one because they can take a downtrodden tone. I never want anyone who is guilty of any marginalization, to feel as if I am “calling them out”. For two reasons, firstly I have absolutely no authority to do so. Secondly, my mum always taught me that those in glasshouses couldn’t throw stones. I wish I could say that every moment of the day I am honourable to the Feminist movement: that I don’t get caught up in gender stereotypes or frustrated by the patriarchy. Instead of “calling each other out” I suggest we call people in. Let us join together and encourage more people to join the Feminist movement. I believe that by recognizing gender equality as a multi-dimensional concept affecting lives across the world, will best prepare us to achieve important change. 

Janne Robinson

     Vancouver Island blogger Janne Robinson “tries to make a habit of saying the word feminist as often as possible.” So here it is. My name is Firoza Dodhi and I am a feminist. I hope you will try it with me. 

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