Friday, May 15, 2015

# A blaze of feminism

This week the conservative American radio show “The Morning Blaze”” triggered a twitter hashtag called #HowToSpotAFeminist to make fun of people believing in “the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”. 1 Soon the social network was used to spread insulting and stereotypical images of feminists (commonly portrayed as unshaved, ugly and fat man-haters – hence the obvious essence of the evil in the world). The radio host “Doc Thompson” later claimed the hashtag was just intended to be a dating advice for one of his friends…


Under the protection of anonymity the internet offers many possibilities to spread one’s opinions which certainly makes inhibitions fall away more easily. This incident is just one example of so-called anti-feminism, which can be encountered in angry Internet forums full of people (mainly but not only men), party programs and even in the key media. 


Common dominator is the preference of traditional binary gender roles, a denial of the discrimination of women and partially the belief of a reversed oppression with men being the new victims. While of course men are also subjects of discrimination the claim that “Feminism has gone too far!” basically closes its eyes to the social reality and history. In parts of Europe and in America this comes as a heterogeneous movement from conservative-Christian, liberal and rightist backgrounds. (While there are often strong links the movement must be distinguished from rightist movements according to sociologists.)

Last year the youth of right-conservative party “Alternative for Germany”(about 14% women), which is sitting in the European Parliament, for example started an Internet campaign spreading photos of members holding signs on which they state why they are not feminists. (Include inspiring remarks such as “…because I like if someone opens the door for me”.)Gender equality is felt to be a zero-sum game: If women win, men lose.2 Says the American sociologist Michael Kimmel. Due to him the loss of power, or rather the feeling, leads to bitterness and a return to archaic notions of masculinity among American men.

Studies found that this antifeminist masculinist movement and discourse is finally not only hostile towards women but also towards men, as they exclude and insult man that portray other images of masculinity than themselves.


 “No I am not a feminist!”
As a matter of fact so-called celebrities (female) do not only get media attention because of too covering or too revealing clothing and green smoothies but also get disproportionate attention for sharing their opinions in tabloids. In the recent past growing numbers of public figures have felt the need to distance themselves from the movement(s) and its issues.  




Megan Trainor doesn’t want to be a feminist but she sings empowering songs for people who don’t fit into the beauty norms. (Fair enough but looking at her music videos we have to admit that diversity is not a concept she deems appropriate for men) Shailene Woodley doesn’t want to be a feminist but she does want gender equality.  Demi Moore is a self-declared supporter of woman but prefers to be called a humanist. Evangeline Lilly likes to play strong and multifaceted women but thinks that feminism means that women “”pretend to be men”. Katy Perry doesn’t want to be a feminist but I am sure she likes being allowed to drive and vote. Miley Cyrus on the other hand wants to be a feminist but thinks men have less emotions.

Apart from some obvious confusion surrounding the (of course by no means homogenous) term, there is a definite fear of being labelled “the f- word”. These American people (Miley Cyrus surely likes to be associated with anything that is perceived as rebellious and unconventional at these times) prefer not to be associated with the generally negative connoted term Feminism (as a female celebrity to have hair in the wrong places can surely lead to evil media reactions…most certainly a case for feminism!) (Note: of course male celebrities and not famous people are also affected by sexism and pressured by beauty ideals and gender role expectations)

Feminism can of course look differently - it is for example controversial if pop-icon Beyoncé is really empowering by standing on stage in front of big letters saying “Feminism” while she is basing her success on the commercialization of her body, which perfectly fits into today’s beauty norms. Despite of this contradiction her fame along with her growing awareness hopefully has potential to lead her fans, among them many young girls, to reflect on today’s gender inequality. (Though maybe not necessarily deeply about body image)

Feminism can look like long hair, short hair. Like Emma Watson. Like men and women and others. Like equal pay. Like Beyoncé. Like questioning gender roles. Like Lisa Simpson. Like heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual. Still and always like Simone de Beauvoir. Like self-determination. Like big people, skinny people. So look up and look around.  


In the end, real feminism could be spotted on Twitter: People of different gender made powerful statements about equality with a large dose of sarcasm and thus reclaimed the hashtag for themselves. Instead of stereotypes and insults comments like 'He/she will be the 1 who supports the insane notion that men & women deserve equality under the law. Madness, I know.' 3 can be found. So let’s hope this was really a helpful piece of advice for Thompson and co.


 For further watching on Youtube: “Sorry babe, You’re a feminist.



1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism

2- http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:IwjLE0TFbMMJ:www.womenlobby.org/spip.php%3Faction%3Dacceder_document%26arg%3D1257%26cle%3Dc64154ed5c942349ef2e589e03b299713da9851d%26file%3Dpdf%252Fewv_autumn_2011_final.pdf+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=bg

3 - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3072689/Hashtag-intended-mock-feminists-backfires-men-women-post-sarcastic-comebacks-Twitter.html

written by Anna

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