With a constant, underlying fear that I might perhaps be social media’s puppet, I spend quite a bit of my time scrolling through various newsfeeds these days. Aside from the odd Buzzfeed quiz unearthing revelational nuances of my character, Facebook tends to offer various opportunities to segue into a whole load of worthwhile reading and debate. Last week, I came across this disturbing image:
I’m used to feeling downcast and detached from what I believe in after stupidly letting myself browse the contents of MRA pages or after reading the comments on Laci Green’s videos, but this was literally the first time I’d confronted bad feminism. Feminism masquerading as feminism that wasn’t even feminism. I knew these were the kind of exceptions people against the movement cling to and perceive as the norm – and this was the first time I had ever discovered one. I was left feeling deflated, and immediately jumped to the movement’s defence.
Then, I discovered this:
Yeah. This is the actual original photo. If you look closely, whatever genius edited the pic has cleverly reversed the image so as to ensure it looks like a different person. Plus, the writing on the first pic is a tad fuzzy around the edges.
What we have here is someone who is clearly terribly afraid of the notion that women might just be equally capable/intelligent/valid as men and has chosen to target a movement promoting equality of the sexes in order to ensure the ladyfolk strictly DO NOT end up with the same pay/rights/social position/success as men. Unfortunately, this poor anxious person couldn’t find enough evidence to support his theory that feminists are evil man haters, so the cunning little devil utilised his photo editing skills to create his own! If only he hadn’t used quite a popular photo (it was on the first page of Google Images), then he really would have gotten away with it!
Of course, a number of non-believers retaliated, claiming they “couldn’t see the difference” between the photos anyway. Well, I can reveal they are different, and not just because the text is in a different colour!
The patriarchy is a system by which men hold most of the power and women are in the main excluded from that power. The patriarchy denies women to be justly represented, denies women a voice and denies her choices. It turns being a woman into an insult. It decrees that her place is in the home and her jobs are cooking and childcare – if she must work, she can be a receptionist or something. Better still, a cleaner, and bring skills from home to the workplace!
Patriarchal society offers rigid roles for women, but also for men. The patriarchy tells men the money on which their family lives is their responsibility. It tells them earning money is more important than being a father, with ordinary paternity leave at 1-2 weeks in the UK. It is why, in Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism, a man reported people being “shocked [he] had custody”. It tells boys to suffer in silence rather than outwardly show their emotions. It tells them it’s perfectly okay for little girls to play with dolls and pushchairs, but questions a little boy playing daddy.
And yes, it is why men are supposedly expected to pay for our dinner. It is not feminism that asks that.
If you really want to attack feminism, at least put the effort into finding a real reason to attack it. If you can’t find one, ask yourself what it is you really have an issue with.