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Opinion : Has Feminism Lost it’s Way



Feminism has a long and powerful history. One Boston College professor wrote an article linking the ideals of the movement back to Renaissance women from Italy and England between 1400 and 1680. The injustices that woman have faced over the ages is certainly something that cannot be ignored and something that has needed to be addressed. Thankfully as society grows and becomes more compassionate to all humankind regardless of gender or race, despite the fact there is still a long way to go, the feminist movement has made monumental progress towards gender equality.

The feminist movement has been commonly described in the US as waves to chronologically distinguish the successes and peaks of the movement. Amongst other denials of basic human rights, the first wave (1848-1920s) fought for woman’s birth control, their right to vote, the right for married woman to possess wages and land, and the lack of educational services available to woman. The second wave (1960s-1980s) fought for such things like fair pay, sexual discrimination towards woman, criminalising maritial rape, legalising abortion and the legalisation of birth control. Both waves had some major and much needed victories leading to law changes and acts being passed in governments. These were groups of not only woman but men who stood against the abhorrent violation of human rights that woman faced and together created a better societal outlook for all.

But there is still work to be done and in the early 1990’s third wave feminism was born. Third wave feminism continues to fight for fair pay, increased support for rape and domestic violence victims, woman’s birth control rights, and seeks to break down the societal stigma surrounding woman and their traditional roles in society. All issues that no human should have to face and issues that any decent person would stand in support to see change to come about.

Worldwide, the modern day feminist movement has huge support from both men and women, fighting for their fellow human to live a safe, happy and fair existance. Their are even claims from feminist that all of humankind need this movement as they are not just fighting for equality for woman, but for equality for all. But this is were it gets tricky.

While the first and second wave movements fought for human rights on the premise that woman’s rights should align with men’s, it seems modern day feminists fight on the premise that men feel like they’re entitled to too many rights that women in times past haven’t been entitled to and men need to be put in their place. So while some feminists will fight to change issues that woman continue to face by raising awareness, there is noticeably an increasingly mainstream group of feminists who fight these issues by attacking men and refusing to acknowledge the struggles that men face as holding any validity whatsoever. This wave I refer to as the critical-wave.

Well known and influential critical-wave feminists have been publicly attacking men. One signed a book for a fan with ‘Killed any men today? And if not, why not?’. While everyone realised it was meant as a joke it is the underlining message that this feminist has sent that is of greatest concern, men are the enemy. Where feminists have always been able to count on the support of men to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight for human rights, there is seemingly a great divide between the genders being created and more and more men are rejecting this modern movement as having any benefit to society as a whole whatsoever. In fact it has been claimed that this critical-wave is causing more harm than good with statistics showing a steady decline in the success of men and boys leading a normal and fruitful life.

This is certainly evident when witnessing the very public critical-wave feminist discussing men’s right’s activist groups (MRAs). They will dismiss any violation of men’s human rights and describe them as fabricated for attention. They will discredit the work that MRAs do in support of men who are suffering a seemingly typical male related issue. These feminists will describe MRAs as nothing more than a group of men who have united to attack woman because they are weak and scared of strong woman. This is in fact a fabricated lie. These are strong men standing up for men to have basic human rights. Rights such as being able to be a parent to their own children, or the right to be taken seriously and given support in circumstances of domestic violence, or for woman to be held accountable when allegations are proven to be false but, due to the public shoot first ask questions later attitude that comes with social media, the man has already lost everything. These men have to be strong and have an unfaltering belief in their cause because they have to endure the relentless wrath from the tormenting critical-wave feminist.

This is a dangerous characteristic of the critical-wave feminist that does scare me as a man and as someone who sees a needed but regrettable purpose for MRAs. That is the fact that men’s voices are being drowned out. At a time where men make up 75% of the New Zealand suicide rates but 80% in Australia and the US, this is not the time to tell them to shut up. It’s time to let them speak, it’s time we stood behind them to show we care just as many men have done for the feminist movement. This new era of man-hating and the out right rejection of the issues men face has to end, for the good of society as a whole.

I’m not quite sure the critical-wave feminists get it. We agree with you, we’re trying to change societies gender biases because we actually like woman. As friends, as colleagues, as mothers, as sisters, as daughters and as our partners. We’re trying to change society just as you are and there has been some amazing progress made and there is some amazing progress that I am sure is coming. We want woman to be happy and treated equally because we actually care and want nothing more than to be part of that happiness. But it doesn’t stop at woman, we want men to be happy and treated with respect too. Something it seems the critical-wave feminist has lost touch of.

Feminism has been an amazing success story over the past century and beyond. There was and to a lesser extreme, due to amazing progress that’s been made, still is a need for the movement. Lets face it, men were jerks back then and woman bore the brunt of that. But the vast majority aren’t those jerks anymore because not only do we not want to be, but because those jerks are no longer tolerated by their peers. We want to see our fellow human succeed in life and gender does not play a role in that notion as it once did. Even if those outdated ideals are still around in old boys clubs, that is where those ideals will meet their end. It is us, the middle aged men of the world that will carry on the legacy that those early feminists created for society. It is us who will teach by example the importance and normality of gender equality to our sons and peers. But it is also us that will remember the time that those few influential critical-wave feminists used destructive words that influenced society to turn it’s back on men. And that is the single biggest legacy that this critical wave will leave that scares me the most.

Those men that once stood beside earlier feminists movements all those years and decades ago instilled an ideal in the heart of their son’s that has multiplied and grown throughout the male population. This ideal has lead to great changes in history where men treat women with equal respect and inflated our appreciation for the amazing role they play in not only our life’s but society as a whole. Men will continue to hold these values in the highest regard and will continue to pass these ideals to our children. Whether that lesson is for our son’s regarding the proper treatment and respect of women, or to our daughter’s about removing the stigma that can come with underlining messages of sexism in the media or the value of their body being sacred to them and only them. Men will always stand for and beside women when their rights are being violated.

With all the finger pointing being directed at everyday men it seems the options are becoming limited for men while being tarred with the same brush as the scurve of society. Men’s choices are to take the abuse, blame and anger for something appauling that they would never commit but are also actively denouncing and say nothing, or to stand up for that which they believe in. This is that men are good people and feminists need to stop focusing on the few that ruin their reputation and start focusing on the good men bring the world. This self preservation and defence of the male population would risk incurring the wrath of the critical-wave feminists where these men are labelled bigots, part of the problem and incapable of understanding the plight of women. Another option which is a very real danger, is that men will stop listening and decide to use their energy elsewhere. We cannot become a society that leaves significant parts of our population to fix their problems alone. Facing adversity in isolation can only be described as a recipe for disaster and only prolongs the suffering of the individual.

While this critical-wave focuses it’s misguided anger with indiscriminant blame towards good men, a solution goes unfound. While men suffer the mental anguish that comes with being told they are the very thing they hate about society, a cry for help goes unanswered. We cannot carry on this way in our modern accepting society. We are all to blame because we are letting people try to bring about change in a most destructive way. There is no moving forward without understanding each member of the team that is society brings something unique and valuable to the fight for a change we all desperately want. There is no moving forward if one groups challenges are held to have higher value than anothers. We cannot prioritise change in one group while ignoring the need for change in another.

Once this critical-wave realises that all of society wants to see an opportunistic and safe present and future for all regardless of gender, then we can tackle all the challenges modern life brings without bias and with our hearts dedicated to each and every issue that men and women face. We have come so far in society and we can go so much further but the first change needs to be attitude and priorities. We are in a time in history where the people are strong and capable and it’s time we put our skills to use to help this world to live upto it’s unbridled potential. We can’t accomplish anything if we’re divided so let’s start the first wave of humanism and bring about the changes that will propel our new ideals of collectiveness and compassion into the future.


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