A Woman criticizes Feminism. Well, 1st & 2nd Wave feminism.
What has feminism done to shatter the patriarchal “women and children first” mentality, and elevate men to status as full human beings deserving of empathy and human rights? What has it done to reinforce and legally entrench the mentality that everyone, including men themselves, should put men last?
Women and men are both made to conform to oppressive cultural archetypes, and third-wave feminist theory acknowledges this idea regularly. Most modern (or should I say postmodern?) feminists are concerned with breaking down cultural binaries (like man and woman, gay and straight) in an effort to free individuals from the restrictive cultural norms that coincide with these titles. Despite this, many people are only aware of first and second-wave feminist sentiments, so they dismiss current forms of feminism as being stuck in the past, even though feminism has become much more postmodern and inclusive over the past century. Yes, there are still some regressive feminists who are pushing for female empowerment, but that is only one aspect of the movement. Third-wave feminism acknowledges that all sexes are made to fit certain roles, and thus focuses more on gender, class, race, and other societal issues, albeit largely through a culturally-feminine perspective (though there has been an increase in feminist texts from culturally-masculine perspectives recently).
The problem most people have when approaching feminism is that they don’t take the time to understand that it isn’t a monoistic field of study with specific, absolute tenets. The media so regularly shows many examples where feminists (and these are often feminists with little or no exposure to any degree of feminist theory) have overstepped their bounds or demonized men, that most people have taken to disparaging all forms of feminism, failing to realize even within feminism there are multifaceted and conflicting opinions; several aspects of feminism that are commonly despised are also disparaged in other facets of feminist theory.
I am a male feminist, and I really can confirm that once you get past the “feminism is for women” myth, you’ll understand the field is more interested in studying gender and culture and truly is more akin to egalitarianism than most realize. One really shouldn’t judge a massive and multiplistic group based on its loudest, most misinformed members. In critiquing feminist theory, one shouldn’t dismiss the whole movement, as your critiques of feminism have been voiced by other feminists.
EDIT: I’ve gotten about ten comments now asking, “If feminism is so different now, why call it feminism?” and since I’m tired of responding personally to each one, I discuss this idea in another comment. In short, I agree the title is off-putting to the layperson who has been exposed predominantly to negative and one-sided media depictions of feminists, and I feel a name like egalitarianism would more aptly reflect postmodern feminism, but changing the name of a massive field of study would be incredibly difficult, and might promote a dismissal of previously established feminist theory. Besides, one shouldn’t judge a multifaceted field of study on its title alone; if a person is critically engaged with feminism, they will realize much of its recent theory is merely egalitarianism under another name. I will concede that the layperson is not critically engaged, though, so the name certainly does have an impact on the public accessibility of the movement. For those interested, I started a discussion about the public view of feminism in this post to r/feminism, wherein the conflations between first, second, and third-wave feminism are addressed.