Friday, March 25, 2016

Why I Am Not a Feminist

Wikipedia defines Feminism as: "Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. Feminists typically advocate or support the rights and equality of women. ".

Sounds OK, right? Who wouldn't want equal rights and opportunities for both sexes? Initially, the "raw deal" that women have had over the centuries does appear unfair: no vote, often no opportunity to have a career and make as much money as a man, discrimination when women do so, etc. The problem, in my opinion (and I'm admittedly no expert), is that this is a simplistic and sexist point of view in the first place. Years ago I remember hearing a friend who majored in Women's Studies in university being asked the question: "Why is there no Men's Studies major?" Her answer was simply: "You can consider what has happened in the past few thousand years as Men's Studies. This particular friend was a strong feminist. It opened my eyes to the perspective of feminism: that women had been kept down by men throughout history, and that now it was time to turn that around. But is that actually true? I don't think there's any doubt that at times women have been oppressed by men, but is it a common theme in human history? I'm not so sure. Men and women, really male and female primates, have had different roles in family and in society through most of our history for obvious reasons. Maybe it's a generalization, but men have gathered the resources to supply the family or clan with necessities of life while women have nurtured the young and performed many of the necessities at home. Both are vital tasks to survival. Neither is more important than the other, and neither is more valuable than the other. Clearly in modern times, the large advances in technology that have allowed less intensive work on both of those fronts have opened up the possibility to blur the lines between the gender roles.

Fast forward to contemporary times. What I typically sense from most feminists is significant hostility towards men for these past roles, hostility towards men that there are still some differences in gender roles in society. More importantly, though, what I sense is hostility that not only is there not equality between the sexes, but hostility that women aren't more equal (to borrow from Orwell).

An example of what I mean is what occurred this week with the Jian Gomeshi trial in Toronto. There was wide spread outrage at the verdict when Gomeshi was found not guilty of sexual assault. The assumption, from what I could observe mostly from what I would define as feminists, was outrage that this rapist got off. Outrage that the judge was a biased old white man who let a violent women abuser go free. There are a couple of reasons I found that reaction distasteful. Firstly, it is clear that many people had already made up their mind about Gomeshi as soon as the accusations came out. He was guilty. Now there is a miscarriage of justice because we all know he is guilty, yet he was acquitted. Secondly, there was what I would term the blatant sexist view that women in this situation are always telling the truth and men are always lying. The reality of this particular trial is that three women accused a man of sexual assault. In court there was no physical evidence of the crimes, there was only witness testimony. Then in court the witnesses all lied under oath. I ponder what a guilty verdict would mean for society, and particularly for men: that any man could be accused of assault, have the witness lie while under oath in court, and then be found guilty. Frightening. Imagine for a second if the genders were reversed. Would there be the outrage at an acquittal? To me, the outrage is representative of the feminist anger and hostility not that men and women don't have equal rights and opportunities, but anger that women aren't in control of men entirely.

The reason I am not a feminist is that I support equal rights and opportunity for men and women.

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