Why Isn’t Every Woman a Feminist?
Feminism can make both men and women uncomfortable. We weren’t exactly raised in a feminist culture; in fact, it was quite the opposite. When I read the first part of King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes, I thought something must be wrong with me when I came across a paragraph that said, “I’m writing…for the ugly, the old, the truck drivers, the frigid, the hysterical, the defective…”
I was shocked because I didn’t consider myself to be any of those things. Maybe a little bit of each, but not a single one of them entirely. I asked myself why I was interested in reading texts that described types of women I didn’t really want to identify myself with.
These are the types of women who are stigmatized by our patriarchal society, but when I thought about the women around me, including myself, I came to the conclusion that every woman has a little bit of them in her. The term “hysterical” was made famous by Sigmund Freud, the same man who said that women had “penis envy.”
Misogyny is academic, intellectual, scientific, sexual, communist, neoliberal, Catholic, and secular. It’s so pervasive and internalized in our lives that people are afraid to confront it, which is why there’s so much resistance when feminists try to do so. That would call for a real change in everything we’ve ever assumed.
The stigmatization of feminist women
The problem is that we ridicule an entire gender and their struggle. It seems that somehow, realizing that you live in an oppressive system and complaining about it is a “bad decision.” People will call you all kinds of names in order to stop the revolution that you’re proposing.
Which is worse: misogynistic men who insult every woman that fights to improve her situation in the world, or misogynistic women who second and support those men?
If it hurts when a man insults you and ridicules you for fighting against blatant social and global injustice, it hurts even more when it comes from a woman. Let’s not forget that the only reason some modern societies have improved in terms of equality, is because of the feminist movement. We have the right to vote because of people like Emily Davison, who died when she was run over by the horse of King George V as she was protesting for the female vote.
The patriarchy has never just given rights to women. The feminist movement has pleaded for, fought for, and won them.
A question of power
There’s no system of oppression that’s older or more global than the continuous assault against the dignity of women, in every way possible. Currently in Saudi Arabia, men are debating whether women are even human or not.
This affront to the physical and moral integrity of women is seen in all societies, and men of all different ideologies and beliefs are the ones who get together to decide how women should live their sexual, reproductive, and familial lives. The communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu asked the secret police to control women’s menstruation and the children they provided to the state.
“We don’t want to break laws, we want to write them.”
Feminism calls for equality. Feminist women don’t want to perpetuate the laws that hurt them anymore. In terms of equality and liberty, women are the main victims of the law. Feminists don’t want the oldest power in the world to stay in power, because women have never benefited from it, they’ve always been hurt by it.
Why are women complicit in the power that oppresses them?
Women make up 52 percent of the population. Subjecting this much of the population to laws that limit their freedom to work, for example, eliminates half of the potential competitors for a job ipso facto, which creates extreme inequality. And it’s not only laws that prevent equality, it’s also the constant moral questioning of everything that women do.
While women worry about minor issues concerning their reputation and maintaining a perfect image, they’re distracted by their fear and anguish. And while they’re distracted, men keep making the important decisions, always privileging themselves and lacking empathy for women.
In this context, it’s normal that many women choose not to “rock the boat” or challenge the established order. They continue to worship the misogynists that prevent them from taking the reins of their own struggle, which is tremendously uncomfortable because the struggle is present in every aspect of life. They act outraged at feminist women, even though they’re the ones who are fighting for their rights.
They know they’ll never benefit from their position in society, but they’d never be as adversely affected as they are now if they took the other stance. But instead, they adopt a position of complicity with the patriarchy and defend the gender roles that come with it. And they judge everyone else, calling them radical and crazy. Thus they automatically gain the favor and power of the patriarchy, but when they’re alone, their teeth tremble, as does their conscience.
Women are anti-feminist because they don’t want to lose the good reputation that their behavior has earned them in the patriarchy. They benefit from it, even though all they receive are little crumbs, while the men receive a feast.
Even in traditionally female activities, men are the ones who stand out. Women cook, sew, decorate, and listen…but it’s always male chefs, designers, and psychiatrists who get noticed. Have you ever asked yourself why? The answer has nothing to do with nature or female brains. The answer has to do with misogyny, which exalts some people and makes others invisible.
Respond to misogynistic women with compassion, not anger
If feminism were to triumph, the established system would crumble. And the next step would be to build from a new perspective, seeking equality instead of power. That means equality for everybody; it’s not just a question of gender, although that’s the issue that’s common among all abuses of power in the world.
Assuming that women and men should enjoy the same rights is assuming that being a woman should not be a risk factor for suffering a type of oppression and violence that men will never know. It’s assuming that the time of cavemen, when using force was the only way to survive, has ended.
It’s assuming that there’s no rational reason for a woman to be violated or assaulted just because “it’s a man’s instinct.” It’s assuming that there should be true household balance between men and women, because there’s no gene that justifies putting all of the burden on women.
In the meantime, there’s no reason to hate the women who continue to be complicit in the patriarchy. Instead, we should sympathize with them. Sympathize with their ignorance and hypocrisy, because they will hopelessly need feminism at some point in their lives, even though they refuse to recognize it.
The rest of us will push that sad role aside, so that we can be the protagonists of our own fight, our own lives, and our own stories. The struggle won’t end until the inequality disappears.