Feminism: what's at stake? #femfest

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

This is my son. He's nine and a half months old and at the moment his favourite things are hugs, clapping his hands, and toys that make noise. One day, however, he will be a man.

For me, one of the most important things that's at stake when we talk about feminism is our future - my son's future, the future of the next generation of men. I hope I'll try my hardest to instill into him the equality and worth of all humanity, the importance of justice for the oppressed and the way women and girls deserve to be treated. Not with a respect that's really benevolent sexism, a respect that puts good women on pedestals and sneers at the rest, but with the respect of someone who truly understands mutuality. If it works, he'll be a good man and I'll be proud.

However, it's not just about him. It's about the men and women he'll know and hang out with and be influenced by and the things he'll read in the press and see going on around him. What's at stake is the idea of a future where people talking about gender equality aren't constantly asked to justify and "prove" why women should be treated as equals. It's the idea of a future where "What about the men?" isn't a Thing and widely believed rape myths aren't a Thing and people laughing off crime statistics as tales made up by "lying sluts" aren't a Thing. Where a week can go by without the news telling us about gang rape and campus rape, and Facebook jokes about rape jokes aren't a Thing.

What's at stake is a future without gaps: pay gaps, education gaps, gaps in access to maternal healthcare, to criminal justice, representation gaps in our governments. Gaps in our churches where women should be free to be the person they were made to be.

When the church pushed back against gender equality, a movement emerged. Today, numerous children of that movement - women my age - are writing about the churches, families, and organisations they have left behind. Often, they've also left their beliefs behind in the process. Yet you don't have to go as far as the Patriarchy movement to find women who have lost their faith because they've had too much experience of a church that won't talk about equality, doesn't believe in it, or dismisses women who don't fit a specific set of characteristics. This is what's at stake - it brings new meaning to the way people say that gender isn't a "salvation issue".

One day, I hope, all this will be a thing of the past. And maybe my son will see it.

Welcome to Day 2 of the Feminisms Fest synchroblog on the topic “Why Feminism Matters.”Link up below on fromtwotoone.com, considering these questions: What is at stake in this discussion? Why is feminism important to you? Are you thinking about your children or your sisters or the people that have come before you? Or, why do you not like the term? What are you concerned we’re not focusing on or we’re losing sight of when we talk about feminism? Why do you feel passionately about this topic?


Anonymous said...

Hannah, YES! I too have a son - 7 months old - and feminism matters to him. Cheers across the pond.

Lana said...

Yes, yes yes.


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