I never thought I would say this, but I’m tired of hearing the word feminism regardless of people’s position on the subject matter. I held back from writing this post for some time because I dislike opening a can of worms and sparking a backlash. However, I should share my honest views on this topic because promoting real change still matters to me.
When I was a liberal arts student at McGill University, I proudly wore the feminist badge. I bought into this ideology because I cared about promoting social justice, especially having experienced injustices myself. At university, I was the VP Internal for McGill’s UN Women National Committee and promoted screenings and panel discussions to advocate for gender equality. I even had one of my first articles published by the McGill’s F-Word magazine, where I attempted to clear feminism of its bad reputation due to people misconstruing its meaning.
Those were no doubt some of my best experiences from my university years. I met amazing and driven people and developed confidence in my writing abilities.
But recently, my standpoint on feminism has changed. What triggered me to write this piece was when I read an article from the Globe and Mail where this quote, in particular, stood out to me:
“Do any of these young men strike you as people who need more negativity in their lives? That their Prime Minister is thinking of them when he sweepingly associates their male identity with toxicity, “gender impacts” and poor decision-making?”
The author critiqued our Prime Minister’s negative portrayal of masculinity and how these views don’t benefit many young men.
I think that the gender debate I’m seeing nowadays is not having any positive impact, no matter the position. When men, women or non-binaries call themselves victims of toxic masculinity or toxic femininity, they are perpetuating the view that the world has turned against them.
I think these ideologies and labels are no longer helpful. While I am grateful for my rights and privileges thanks to the feminist movement, I also think it’s possible to go overboard. There are many people in this world who don’t have basic rights nor positive liberty—they are the ones who may benefit from this movement more than anyone else.
But in modern western society, feminism (and antifeminism) is often used to perpetuate people’s self-biases and negative perception of the world.
The ideology is divisive and enables a victimhood mentality. People stop thinking critically and have a warped perception of reality. The name-callings are endless: words like “feminazi” or “misogynists” have spread on the internet. No one is listening nor are they having a real conversation to incite change.
We’re so quick to use labels such as patriarchy or toxic masculinity without giving them much further thought. I’m not denying that prejudices and biases don’t exist; however, if we jump to these conclusions right away, then we don’t solve anything.
Since entering the world of work, I wanted to find out for myself how oppressed I really am. And I realize that, often times, the problems lies within ourselves. From working with salespeople, I see that gender is not a determining factor when it comes to performance. Most people are not prevented from negotiating a raise, making more sales, or taking on a leadership role because of their gender.
The reasons for the injustices that people face is not merely black and white. People are hurt, insecure, and afraid no matter their race, gender or socioeconomic status. Pitying ourselves against other people because of our differences only breeds resentment and ignorance.
Change happens when we start asking ourselves questions on how to make things better. For instance, if I feel underpaid, how can I address that? If people are abusing me, what can I do to get myself out of this situation? How do I build a support network? How do I become more assertive? Why does this make me feel uncomfortable?
These kinds of questions can take us a lot further than blaming others or an entire system. When we stop asking questions and look at ourselves objectively, we become blinded by ideological biases which do more damage than good.