Whenever there is any type of feminist or pro-woman article, I see two types of comments:
1. What about men, huh? We have body ideals, too! We get persecuted for being a guy, too!
2. Really, it's the women who go after other women. Don't blame society -- blame the women!
The first comment is annoying for two reasons: 1) Bringing up the plight of a group of people when talking about equality or injustice for another is selfish and misguided. Nothing would infuriate me more during the Marathon Bombings than when someone would say, "Well this happens in Syria everyday," or, "This is nothing compared to the genocides in Cambodia!" It doesn't matter how severe a situation is. You don't bring up another problem to compare against (and potentially invalidate) another. Every issue has their own place and time and no one wins in the "Pain Wars". And 2) These comments are usually made by first world men with comfortable lives who are essentially complaining that girls don't find the guy attractive, forgetting that men are given an infinite number of outlets and alternatives. Men can be the physically attractive one, or the funny one, or the charming one (and really, charm can supercede any other trait. Just ask Benedict Cumberbatch). They can be the CEO or the Man in Uniform or the Lone Wolf. Women are looked at. My prime example being female MMA fighters. Look at the comments made at male MMA fighters. It's all about whose ass is getting kicked and who's the better fighter. Female MMA fighter comments? She's hot. She's ugly. She's rough-looking. I want to bang her. I'd never bang her. 2/10 would not bang*.
But that's not my focus today. My focus is on the second comment. People love to brush off the problem as, "Well, women are bitches!" People love pointing out when it's female commentators picking apart what a female politician is wearing. Or when a wife beats up the mistress but does nothing to the husband. People take these instances out of context and go, "See? The real problem isn't equality; the real problem is women."
This section right here is the tricky part, because I have to compare something like feminism to genocide or violence in poverty without trying to equate one with the other. All three can go hand in hand in some instances, but I can already see how off-putting it would be to compare the death of millions to First World Feminism.
But still, I'm going to try my best and, hey, if you hate the comparison, stop reading now. There'll be a fresh entry tomorrow. To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes, the final chapter in any successful genocide is when the perpetrators can step back and go, "Look at what they're doing to one another! They're killing each other!" The repressed and oppressed will eventually turn on each other. You see it everywhere: Native Americans shooting and killing each other on reservations, black-on-black crime... cage and starve the beings long enough and they begin to fight each other. And it's way too easy to take that instance out of context and go, "See, the real problem was them all along. Look at how they attack each other!"
So, before I go on any further, I want you to wipe your mind of genocide and crime. I use that quote for demonstrative purposes and the last thing I want to do is put one with the other.
Let's go back now to women. We're brought up being told to compare ourselves to other women. We're given words like "homewrecker" to describe (married or single) women who sleep with married men, but there are no words on the same level for the married man who cheats (and "adulterer" doesn't have the same venom attached to it). We are given phrases like "Keep your man," as if people are nothing more than caged beasts who will flee the second your back is turned. We live in a society where these little changes in semantics shapes how we view the world (Sapir-Whorf, anyone?). We watch TV shows where commentators pit women against each other in every realm of society. These two Hollywood actresses hate each other because they both want to be America's sweetheart! Which Red Carpet darling wore it better? Does Palin and Bachmann secretly hate each other? We're told in not-so-subtle terms that, in order to be loved, we need to be prettier than that girl. We are told to compare, compare, compare, and hate any woman who is "better" than us. Not be competitive, not strive to get to where they are, but hate.
And then we are set out into the world. And it's the individual woman's fault for every inequality in the world.
It's such a misguided way of thinking. And suddenly the focus is shifting on who to blame instead of what should be done next.
And this isn't even touching upon the fact that feminism isn't just about beauty ideals in commercials. It's about women in India getting a chance for an education. It's about stopping child marriage, where 8-year-old girls are sold off to 50-year-old men as wives. It's about ending the apathetic world attitude on sexual violence. It's about giving sanctuary to women who are being abused.
But no one likes to talk about that. People just like to make stupid comments like, "If feminism is about equality, then I should get to hit a woman like I hit a man!" (Ignoring the part where both are illegal actions. And really, why would that person so anxious to hit women?)
That's my rant for the day. Let's see if I have enough energy now to start writing for NaNoWriMo.
*You're welcome, 5 people on the internet.