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February 1, 2016

A Letter to all the Anti-Feminists.

Flickr/Tove Paqualin

To all of the anti-feminists:

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of anti-feminist social media becoming popular. I’m not referring to those people who do not consider themselves to be feminists—I’m referring to those who are aggressively spreading hate and misinformation about the feminist movement.

Let me explain my personal understanding of feminism—feminism is a movement that hopes to disassemble the patriarchal system that oppresses many different vulnerable people.

A common thread I have noted in these anti-feminist speeches is that feminists are “man-haters.” I am not a man-hater. I have a partner, who is a man, who I love very much. I love and respect many men. I am, however, against the system of patriarchy that has ruled and oppressed people in our society for a long while.

Patriarchy does not only hurt women—it does not allow men to express their emotional needs safely, it does not have space for the LBGTQ community, and it ultimately aims to conquer those deemed as “weaker” than the ruling class. Because the ruling class has typically been white males, it is an assumption that feminism is against men. This is an uninformed and incorrect view.

Feminism, in my view, aims to bring down patriarchy, which would ultimately benefit men, women, children, the LGBTQ community and other oppressed populations. My definition of feminism stands for equality—across all genders, races, classes and belief systems. Feminism believes in empowering those vulnerable populations who have had their power stripped from them by an oppressive, consumerist society.

I do not claim by any means to be an expert in feminism. I do work for a feminist organization, and for many years I did not identify as a feminist, because I was unaware that I was one. This is because of the socially negative connotations associated with the term “feminism” and the inaccurate representation of what the term entails—these ideas are being perpetuated by anti-feminist views which do not actually have a full understanding of what feminism is.

There are extremists in any type of ideology. As a society, I feel we must look past the extremists to gain an understanding (and respect) of an ideology—for example, we do not consider the KKK to be representative of Christianity. Just as with any ideology, many people have different approaches or philosophies of their identity within feminism—some feminists are very focused on helping other women, and some feminists are very focused on inciting social change.

I do not believe that everyone needs to share the same world view, but the aggressive nature that the anti-feminist voices are using to spread their misinformation has no positive outcome. If people could harvest this energy towards a positive movement that is more in alignment with their personal views, rather than trying to take down feminism (which they may not fully understand), we would all have used our energy in a more efficacious manner.

You do not have to identify with feminism, but you should respect it. Find an approach that resonates within, and do your best to create a healthier, safer and more balanced world and society.

To be blunt, these anti-feminist rants are ignorant and spreading incorrect information. The truth is, without the gains that the feminist movement has made thus far, the women speaking out against feminism would not have a voice to be heard.

As a feminist, let me set the record straight on how I view the world. I love and respect many men and believe that men and women are equally as important in the healing that has to happen in this world. I believe in a world where men are allowed to cry without judgment. I believe in a world where women can walk down the street at night without fear. I believe in a world where a trans-gendered individual has no barriers accessing services or gaining employment. I believe in a world where we join hands with our Aboriginal neighbours and fight for equality, health and healing. I believe in a world where people are free and safe to be themselves and express themselves.

I believe in a just and equal world, for everyone—because I am a feminist.

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Author: Danyel Knapp-Fisher

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Tove Paqualin

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Danyel Knapp-Fisher