While acknowledging that without feminism today women would not have many legal and political rights, in today’s climate I do not feel comfortable identifying as a feminist. I do still strongly believe in the equality of both genders. I feel this way because of how the younger and more influential feminists incorrectly portray themselves in popular media, and the lesser issues they like to focus on compared to the more important ones.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, Donald Trump plans to remove the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their employees’ health insurance plans.
To me, this seems to be a big hit to the part of the feminist ideology that women have the right to control what happens to their bodies. However, this news did not seem to make big headlines in my generation’s outspoken feminist media. I heard none of the typical feminist YouTubers, such as Kat Blaque, speak about this issue at all. I would not have any issue with feminism nowadays if more popular feminists with large audiences focused on making their movement more focused on things that can be changed.
BuzzFeedVideo for instance, according to Socialblade, has 13.4 million subscribers and counting. Some of their popular content relies on women who are feminists complaining about the things that men do.
For example, their video called, Women Try Manspreading For A Week or their 36 Questions Women Have For Men on their other channel, Boldly. While it is just a small group of women doing this, these women at Buzzfeed shows many people an image of what feminism is. Whether this image is correct or not, this is what 13.4 million subscribers are watching. Seeing is believing.
I feel as though their message is getting murky with all of the side issues they like to talk about and create terms for. For example, modern day feminism has made popular “sexist” terms such as, “manspreading” and “mansplaining”. According to Oxford Dictionaries, man spreading was never a term that started out by being made by an organization or by a person. Lyman Abbott was the first person to write about the idea of mansplaining, though the term itself did become mainstream until the early 2000s.
According to an article by CNN, ‘Manspreading’ is now a no-no on Madrid’s public buses, “Manspreading… is when men spread their legs with no regard to others’ personal space.” In another article called, Manspreading is an Important Feminist Issue, Not Just Bad Social Etiquette, Sarah Khan argues that manspreading is, “an act of dominance that is the result of deep-rooted societal privilege borne of our patriarchal society.” To me, this is another example of a woman identifying as a feminist who is using her platform to talk about lesser issues, instead of the more important ones. A man manspreading, in my opinion, is not nearly as important as the right to your own body.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mansplaining is when “…a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.” Immediately, the problem I see with this definition is that it is entirely subjective. What one person may see as demeaning, another might see as just a man trying to be helpful.
There is a video on YouTube by MIC with 187,000 views on youtube, called Is Mansplaining Real? that consists of a woman asking people if they believe in mansplaining or not. It was criticized by anti-feminists all over youtube, with the most popular video made on it reaching millions of views. These anti-feminists YouTubers said this is why we do not like feminists, their movement is only about hating on men.The older feminists I know do not believe in what these companies portray feminists to believe in. I think that MIC is another example of a channel with a significant following, that uses its channel to portray feminists incorrectly.
MIC, Buzzfeed, and Sarah Khan have not made videos or articles mentioning Trump’s mandate.
All social movements have extremists. Extremists being the people who are apart of the movement and take all the ideas in the movement far beyond most other people. But in this day and age of social media, with the extremists gathering up most of the attention from the movement, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish the movement from these extremists.
It is infuriating for me to see these extremists with the spotlight dedicate their time to talking about not as important issues while letting bigger issues run by. So while respectfully observing the past and being thankful for everything feminism has done for me and women, I do not agree with the way that this new wave of feminism is being run in the 21st century. I want to be a feminist, but I do not want to be apart of this kind of a movement that is unstructured, victimizing, and all in all confusing.