Do feminists want to keep men down?

To put it simply: no. Feminists have no interest in devaluing males in favour of females. The end goal of the feminist movement is not to invert the hierarchy so that we can live in a female dominated society. My feminism is not a personal attack on each and every man I meet, but rather on the ever-present patriarchy that is present in many countries of the world.

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Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that some people believe that the term “feminism” is outdated, and prefer using “humanism” or “egalitarian”. Even though this article is about feminism, I don’t want you to get too caught up in the term that I (or other feminists) choose to identify with; all you need to know is that we believe in gender equality for all (including non-cis individuals!).

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Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me an article that claimed that females have more rights than males. The article was introduced rather poorly, but what I got out of it was that it was an attempt to discredit feminists and the feminist movement. For today’s #WomanCrushWednesday, I thought I would go over the arguments made by the author, Janet Bloomfield, one by one to shed my personal feminist opinion on them.

Here is the article, if you’d like to read it: http://thoughtcatalog.com/janet-bloomfield/2014/08/5-legal-rights-women-have-that-men-dont/

First things first…

Overall, I don’t agree with the author’s stance. Even if the legal rights raised were perfectly legitimate, and females had more rights than males in these categories, this argument does nothing to prove that females have more rights point blank than males (which we do not). Furthermore, in the beginning, the article starts by talking about how feminists are interested in equal rights for everyone, and then kind of drops that point and brings up issues that many feminists believe to be problematic, and want to see amended. Another thing that I think is important to mention is that my feminism does not attempt to undermine inequality that males face. I don’t like the fact that Bloomfield’s argument reads “feminism shouldn’t exist because females aren’t the only ones with problems”. Feminism is not a term that is exclusive to women – as already mentioned, many feminists fight for equality in men’s rights issues – and it can also coexist with activism for men’s rights, humanism, activism for PoC, etc. Feminism can, and should be, intersectional and address issues facing the whole population. Feminists can also identify with a whole range of other terms, including (like myself) egalitarian (etc.)

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Breaking down the arguments

“1. Women have the right to genital integrity […]

the legal fact is that infant girls are protected against any genital cutting of any kind and infant boys are not. Many feminists will argue that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a magnitude of brutality beyond male genital mutilation”

I agree. This legal truth is unfair to people with a penis. Circumcision is not medically necessary and infants should not be subjected to it. However, circumcision is actually objected by a LOT of feminists and feminist groups (see: 1, 2). At the very least, most feminists agree that circumcision should at least be a topic of debate and discussion.

Something that I think is really important to point out is that FGM is focused on much more by feminists because the magnitude of brutality and the extent to which it affects individuals’ lives is much greater than the effect that circumcision has.

“Immediate consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death.” –End FGM

While, as Bloomfield points out, this does not change the fact that circumcision is something that may have to be addressed, it is a legitimate reason as to why FGM receives more focus. FGM is still an issue in MANY places around the world, so this “legal fact” is definitely not factual in a lot of places. It is still an issue that needs to be resolved.

Let’s also not forget that circumcision is a legal right because of religious and cultural beliefs, not because of feminists’ inaction.

“2. Women have the right to vote without agreeing to die

Men may not actualize their basic rights as a citizen without first signing a Selective Service card, in which they agree that at the discretion of the democratically elected government, they will take up arms and die to defend their liberty and way of life.”

Again, this is an issue that many feminists/ feminist groups acknowledge and want to abolish. Furthermore, females had to fight for YEARS to be awarded the right to vote and to be allowed to join the army. Not to mention the fact that, once in the military, the rates of violence against women (especially sexual) is extremely high. None of this makes the draft okay, but all of these issues are interconnected.

“3. Women have the right to choose parenthood

Women cannot be forced or coerced into parenthood, but they are legally allowed to force men into financing their reproductive choices.”

First of all, abortion is still illegal or inaccessible in a lot of places, including many of the States… so… this isn’t even a valid statement… Second of all, there are legal processes in place that can help fathers to work out financial support and caregiving rights. Also, if someone does not feel comfortable getting an abortion, she may feel obligated to have a child she did not want. As sex requires two consenting adults, it is only fair that not only one person should have to deal with the consequences of this decision simply due to biological necessity. Oh, and concerning abortion…7702757094_6160704d0d

“4. Women have the right to be assumed caregivers for children

When parental relationships irretrievably break down, current custody laws assume one primary caregiver (almost always a woman) and one tertiary caregiver (almost always a man). In order to win equal or shared custody, the tertiary caregiver must litigate to prove they are worthy of equal parenting, a proposition that is not only very difficult to “prove”, it is also very expensive.”

??? This is very situational and it isn’t actually that difficult to obtain shared custody if it is deserved. Also, as my friend Emily pointed out, males are presumed to be the primary caregivers in certain cultures (under Sharia law, for example).

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“5. Women have the right to call unwanted, coerced sex rape

Penetration of any orifice must occur for rape to have happened. [U]nder the category of “other sexual assault” [is] the awkwardly named “made to penetrate” category, which includes men who were coerced, tricked or bullied into penetrative sex with women they would otherwise not have had sex with. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey similarly considers the two types of assault separately, despite the fact that occurrences are virtually identical. 1.27M women report rape (p.18)  and 1.26M men report “made to penetrate” (p.19).”

This one actually makes my head hurt. Forgive me if I’m blunt in dismantling this argument, but:

  1. Feminism deeply cares about male survivors of sexual assault and rape. Any discrimination under the law against male victims is something that feminists seek to rectify.
  2. This point isn’t even debatable: WOMEN (including trans-women) ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED MORE THAN MEN. This does not undermine the impact of sexual violence against men, but is the actual factual truth and it should never be ignored.
  3. Even though there are laws in place to protect female survivors of sexual violence, victims are often disregarded, undermined, treated unfairly, discriminated against, not believed, stigmatized, etc. (Just recently in Ottawa there was the case of Mélodie Morin who had to fight with the police department to take her case seriously).
  4. Do I really have to mention that females are STILL regarded as second class citizens all over the world and that their sexual assaults are disregarded in many places???

This argument minimizes the ongoing severity of sexual violence against women by saying “but men can face this too”. It isn’t okay.

Concluding thoughts

I have no problems with articles being written in order to address inequalities that males face. That is not what this article is. As a feminist, I see this article as an ignorant attack on feminist ideologies. This article does not accurately represent feminist goals and, instead, serves to pit people against one another. There is no need to look at issues of gender as an “us vs. them” situation; all of these issues are interrelated and must be addressed together in order to truly eradicate them.

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Image credits: 1, 2, 3456

4 Reasons why Miley Cyrus is my #WCW

1. She actually tries to make a difference.

Cyrus says that she was inspired to set up a homeless charity after accepting the huge disparity between her life and the lives of others. She said: “I can’t drive by in my fucking Porsche and not fucking do something. I see it all day: people in their Bentleys and their Rolls and their Ubers, driving past these vets who have fought for our country, or these young women who have been raped. I was doing a show two nights ago, and I was wearing butterfly nipple pasties and butterfly wings. I’m standing there with my tits out, dressed like a butterfly. How the fuck is that fair? How am I so lucky?” (Source)

Like many celebs, Miley claims to be passionate about a slew of social issues, but she doesn’t just talk the talk — she walks the walk. Earlier this year, she began founded an organization called Happy Hippie in order to “rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations”. Not only is Miley the founder of this charity, but she’s also actively involved and is using her platform to fuel fundraising and support for important endeavours. For example, the Foundation launched a campaign called “#InstaPride” in order to celebrate transgender people and folks who do not identify as being cisgender (more on this campaign here and here). She also does cool promotional videos to help raise money and spread good music:

2. She’s human.

People always seem to bring up the interview where Miley said that she’d never do drugs because they’re “for idiots”– SIX YEARS AGO. We all know that a lot can happen in 6 years–6 years ago I was still in elementary school, probably pining over my crush of the hour and being convinced that anyone who consumes alcohol is a drunken idiot. Where were you? The point is, people can change a lot in 6 years, but the fact remains that Miley continues to break barriers and stand up for human rights. Also, she’s open about her insecurities. In 2013, she divulged that the reason why she does her popular “tongue face” (image below): “”I get embarrassed to take pictures […] I don’t know what else to do in front of the cameras. And now, people always go, ‘Do the tongue thing!” (Source)

3. She isn’t afraid to challenge social norms.

Miley is known for defying societal conventions and unspoken rules, and has shown it once again with her support of and participation in the Free the Nipple Campaign which was designed to “empower women across the world”.

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She also said, in a controversial interview with Paper Magazine

She says she has come to consider her own sexuality — even her own gender identification — fluid. “I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that’s legal, I’m down with. Yo, I’m down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me,” she says. “I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.” She says she’s had romantic entanglements with women that were just as serious as the ones (Liam Hemsworth, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nick Jonas) that ended up in Us Weekly. “I’ve had that,” she admits. “But people never really looked at it, and I never brought it into the spotlight.”
4. The naysayers don’t get her down.
She keeps fighting. She’ll keep fighting. Paper Magazine wraps it up with: “That she has been persecuted for these [controversial] things — or at least openly mocked — makes her commitment to love-yourself-no-matter-what activism even more poignant.”
Read more of the Paper Magazine interview with Miley here.

Image source: 1, 2

Re[a]d My Lips — Twofold #WCW

Trigger warning: content related to sexual violence. 

Today’s #WomanCrushWednesday post is related to an issue which is incredibly important to address and has great personal and societal implications in my mind. I’m dedicating this Wednesday to two people: Danielle Tansino and myself (I know, I’ve already called myself my woman crush Wednesday like 2 weeks ago — what’s up with that?).

First Dedication:

April 1st (that’s today, if you haven’t been pranked to remind you yet) marks the beginning of a month-long campaign founded by a sexual assault survivor named Danielle Tansino. Red My Lips (a deliberate play on words of the idiom “read my lips”). The campaign asks individuals to wear red lipstick all month long (or whenever you want to/can) to mimic “Movember”‘s visual messaging to bring awareness to sexual violence, address unproductive and hurtful victim-blaming, and put an end to common misconceptions (read “ignorance”) regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape. Furthermore, they encourage sexual violence survivors to reclaim power from their abusers by calling themselves “Warriors”. It’s a wonderful cause, and I encourage you to check them out on their Facebook page. The organizers recognize that not everybody is willing to wear red lipstick for 30 days (understandable), so they’ve come up with a list of alternative ways that you can support the movement, such as writing “Red My Lips” on clothing/your hand, wearing a red article of clothing every day, painting your nails red, and printing out a picture of red lips and putting them on a car window. These are all visible ways to show support to this cause and be able to start a dialogue about it to actually make a difference!

Sexual Violence

A quick search on Google can provide millions of results revealing the prevalence of sexual violence in North America, but here’s a few quick statistics for you to mention if you choose to start a conversation about it:

  • 1/2 of Canadian women ages 16+ have experienced sexual/physical violence (Source)
  • 1/4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (Source)
  • Victims of sexual assault are 4x more likely to contemplate suicide (Source)
  • Females are 11x more likely to be the victims of sexual violence than males (Source)
  • Male victims comprised 8% of police-reported sexual violence in 2008 (Source)
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker (Source)

Don’t forget that these statistics are in Canada and the U.S. — the numbers are much higher in many developing countries around the world.

Second Dedication

One of the Red My Lips goals is to destigmatize the discussion about sexual violence and to raise awareness by demonstrating its prevalence. The campaign also aims to empower survivors of sexual violence. For these reasons, I am dedicating the second part of this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday to myself.

From a young age, I was sexually abused by a family member who took advantage of me. It went on for years before I realized the reality of my situation and reported it to my family and the police in 2010. This situation had a huge impact on my life — my mental health declined, my self-esteem plummeted, my outlook on life reached an all-time low, and I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. Through counselling, education, and speaking out about my experience, I have reached a point where I am much more mentally healthy, but I am still reminded of what I went through (and what my family and friends went through as a result of it) every day. I have been told time and time again that I shouldn’t post my experience with sexual violence on social media because it is “too personal” and because it’s an “awkward topic”. I’m doing it anyway, because it’s important to do! I should not feel ashamed that I was abused, and nor should anyone else in my position. It has taken me years to truly embody the idea that sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. I should be able to post whatever I want about my experience, and I should not be made to feel guilty for doing so.

I share this not to gain pity, or even support, but to drive the point home that sexual violence is much more common than you might think. I’m sure each and everyone of you reading this knows of at least one person other than myself who has experienced sexual violence. It is a reality that is far too common for far too many individuals, but it is one that we can all work together to change. Other than participating in the Red My Lips campaign, other things that you can do to help are:

  • Get involved with organizations that work to influence policies regarding sexual violence
  • Support survivors of sexual violence
  • Volunteer/fundraise for organizations that support survivors
  • Share posts on social media which work to empower sexual violence survivors and reduce victim-blaming

Happy #RedMyLipsMonth

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Thanks for being here!

This blog is dedicated to happiness — mine, yours, and maybe even your friends’ and family’s (if I’m so lucky that people share my posts and find them helpful)! While it’s important to be knowledgeable about current events and social justice issues, I think it’s also incredibly important to take time to be positive every day. I think there’s too much focus on the negative, and I want to try to change that in my own life.

I decided to make my quest public to keep myself motivated, and also to motivate others as well hopefully; we all need it every once in a while. Each day of the week will have a different theme to it, and they will all be wonderous (hence “wonderousweekdays”). I haven’t come up with all of the names yet, but so far there will be:

  • “Masculine” Monday – content focused on challenging gender roles and norms.
  • Tuesday to come. 
  • #WomanCrushWednesday – a play off the popular instagram/Twitter tag, Wednesday is a day to give a shoutout to wonderful women, empower females, and challenge gender roles & misogyny.
  • Thankful Thursday – a day dedicated to recognizing all the great things in our life.
  • Feel Good Friday – random acts of kindness? Good news? Cute animals? Mental health advice? If it will make you happy, it fits in here.
  • Song Saturday – sharing the healing power of positive music!
  • Self-love Sunday – let’s focus on self-care and acceptance to start the #wonderousweek off right.

Morgan