1. Believing that feminism is just for females.
Feminism happened to promote equal rights for women at a time when they barely had any. At the heart of it, it encouraged people to end sexism. Today, if you believe feminism is just for females, you run the risk of discriminating against all other genders to promote your own sex’s welfare possibly at the expense of other people. And that scenario is just the same as before—just as bad—only with different players at the top. Men and members of the LGBT community can be victims of sexism too—and they usually are in their own way.
(The term “feminism” may be considered outdated to some people and might not sound inclusive anymore, but its spirit must remain and be practiced.)
2. Prude-shaming the shy, wholesome ladies out there.
Being confident and strong is a result of experiencing some form of gender equality. That said, there are so many ways for women to exude confidence, and you just feel it when you see them. It’s not limited to physical appearances, particularly by showing off one’s body or sexuality. Some people are more wholesome than others, and being wholesome in dress doesn’t mean that that woman is “oppressed” hence needs to be “empowered.”
Empowerment has to do with being seen as an equal in society—being autonomous, FREE to make YOUR OWN choices, being given equal opportunities to improve your quality of life, being heard.
3. Hating on all men.
Hating on men because you’ve boxed them up to be disgusting, sex-starved creatures is not good, and is only tolerable when you’re getting over a breakup from your cheating ex. Thinking of them in that light is reminiscent of the way society thought all women were sinful—temptresses—just because they’re women. That did not go well, BTW. If you want society to move forward, we all have to look at people as people, and to look beyond their sex and the roles we’ve come to attach to them. There are good people out there!
4. Not believing that men can also be assaulted, and laughing at the men who are.
Rape and domestic violence aren’t filed under “women’s issues” alone. Men can get hurt too. In fact, in the U.S. around 40 percent of domestic violence victims are male. There’s hardly sufficient data on Pinoys since men being assaulted is still a laughing matter here, so male victims just keep the abuse to themselves. It is unfortunate that there are still many people who think it’s funny when a man gets beaten up by a woman. It implies that women are weak, and that men should always dominate. But assault is assault!
5. Pitying Arab women for their “oppressive” race or religion.
While there have been many disconcerting headlines about women in the Middle East, it’s quite condescending (and ignorant) to pity those abused women for being “so behind the times.” And sadly you’re more ignorant (and foolish and hypocritical) if you pity them for being covered up and blaming religion in the process.
The fact is that nearly every society has struggled and still continues to struggle with sexism. In the U.S., women only began voting in 1920; until now, their reproductive healthcare leaves much to be desired. Does that last bit sound familiar? Many Pinays still can’t choose for themselves what to do with their bodies, their fertilized egg, and their suffocating married life. And yet in Tunisia women could divorce their husbands since 1956, had access to birth control as early as 1962, and to abortion—an affirmed human right by United Nations Human Rights Committee—since 1965.
The point is that being Arab and Muslim is not synonymous to being a misogynist. To believe that they’re one and the same makes you racist, and the world doesn’t need a racist “feminist” for it to be a better place for everyone. Sexism is a problem that Arab societies have, but it’s not solely an Arab problem. If you want to do away with it, you need to recognize that sexism has many complex roots—for instance men’s fear of raising another man’s child, societies engaging in warfare making the physically strong more powerful. (And a religion like Islam isn’t one of those roots.)
6. Belittling women who date around a lot.
These women are criticized for not being independent or they are labeled “sluts,” as if wanting love or being promiscuous diminishes their worth when it really doesn’t. As long as they live honest lives, aka don’t cheat on their partner, serial daters shouldn’t be given any crap.
7. Being loud AF on Facebook about catcalling, but not saying a word on other issues that oppress women.
There’s more to being a feminist that goes beyond getting mad at catcallers. While catcalling, as a symptom of an oppressive and patriarchal society, is wrong, you’re not being that great of a feminist if you fail to criticize policies or the state itself for disregarding women (especially the poor) and their rights. Just because some people don’t catcall doesn’t mean they do what’s best for women, children, LGBT, and men—it just means they’re good at hiding their prejudices.
And quite frankly, there have been pretty heavy issues out there like the RH budget cut of 1 billion pesos, the anti-discrimination bill still pending in the Senate, the possible closure of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, a public maternity hospital in Manila that thousands of mothers and babies rely on daily. The point is that if you want to be an effective feminist or gender equality advocate, you have to care and fight for women in all walks of life—to at least recognize that abuse happens in different ways and to spread that awareness.
8. Thinking that women have to support each other no matter what.
“Hoes over bros,” “buds over studs” are a thing, but there’s a line. If you truly advocate gender equality, you won’t support a female politician whose policies disenfranchise women. If you have a female friend who’s cheating on her boyfriend for whatever reason, you’re right NOT to take her side because you know cheating is wrong and can never be justified. It’s silly to absolve someone’s wrongdoing because of her gender—that’s also a form of discrimination. Set your heart on what’s good.
9. Looking down on housewives and sex workers.
The reality is that some women have the luxury of being able to choose their livelihood, while others don’t—that’s how it is here in a third world country. And while others may freely choose to be housewives or sex workers at a time when career-oriented women enter the corporate scene, we shouldn’t judge those women as lazy, incompetent, or promiscuous. After all, there is dignity in work freely chosen. And work, because it’s work, yields some fruits and isn’t a walk in the park every single day.
10. Saying that women should be able to do whatever they want, to answer to no one and not give a fuck about other people.
It’s understandable where this sentiment is coming from: for centuries women had to put other people first, even if it meant renouncing their rights or putting their lives at risk. It’s great that many women now have the opportunity to make choices for themselves and be respected for their decisions. But to say that women should be able to do whatever they want without thinking of other people? That’s a little too much. That’s not even freedom; freedom is being rid of crippling situations and compulsions, being able to do what’s good and exercise your rights without backlash. We’re all still part of a community, and we ALL do have to think how our actions will affect others. You can’t just go berserk on your partner, friend, parents, or even a stranger and expect that to be okay. Care about yourself, yes, but don’t forget others. Always love. :)
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