Dealing with the myths about feminism
The feminist movement is more than a century old - during this time women have become a full-fledged member of society. They can vote, be elected, work whoever they want, choose whether to give birth to them or not, and dress as they want (apart from the peculiarities of various religions). At the same time, the very word "feminism" seems to have changed its meaning - judging by the kind of reaction it evokes. Often they are condemned in absentia for their ideas, but what exactly they are, they cannot specify. Who are feminists today? What are they doing, what are they fighting for?
We decided to ask the Permians the simplest questions about feminism and feminists, and the representatives of this movement themselves commented on these judgments: is this myth or truth.
To begin with - the answers of Perm residents on the street to a few questions:
Who are feminists? What are they fighting for? Free discourse of Perm about feminists.
Analyzing the answers of the Permians, we have collected the most frequently encountered theses-opinions about feminists and the movement in general. Here they are:
Feminists do not like men. Feminists want equal rights with men in everything. Feminists do not want help from men, and they are not interested at all. Feminists are very aggressive and provocative. Feminists expose body parts to attract attention.
These judgments will be analyzed by three experts: Veronika Shalaginova, activist, feminist, creator of the fem prm community, organizer of the “Decayed, turned to dust” holiday; Alisa Klotz, researcher at the Center for Comparative Historical and Political Studies at Perm State National Research University, Associate Professor at the European University at St. Petersburg, Professor at the University of Pittsburgh; Olga Vazhenina, host of the Sisters in the Frame film club.
Is it true that feminists don't like men?
- All feminists are different. This cannot be said for everyone, since each separately taken feminist treats men differently. Of course, there are those who do not treat men with obvious sympathy, but this, again, is individual. So this is definitely a myth.
- Feminists stand for equality between men and women. If you support the idea of equality, for example, equality of people of different nationalities, this does not mean that you do not like any of the parties. Another thing is that if there is a question of equality, it means that one of the parties is in a privileged position. Naturally, if you want equality, you are against privilege. Feminists oppose the privileged position of men in society. Therefore, the illusion is created that feminists do not like men. In fact, feminists don't like inequality.
- Feminism is not about love or hatred (or indifference) towards men. It's not about men at all. Of course, what we see around us and what we read about in the news affects the attitude towards specific people and men in general. For example, it makes you be more careful or teaches you to more actively show your position. Something is causing anger. But women who actively support patriarchal attitudes and “drown” and blame other women can also cause no less emotions. So misandry (dislike of men. - Ed.) Is a completely optional attribute of feminism.
Is it true that feminists want equality with men in everything?
- Feminists are fighting for their rights, the rights of women. For example, for the right to control your body: the right to free, legal and safe abortion.
- Feminists really want equality with men "in everything", but this does not mean that they do not see the physiological differences between men and women.Feminists advocate that society should not punish women for their physiological characteristics. For example, no one argues that it is women who give birth to children and feed them with breast milk. Therefore, feminists are in favor of measures to support mothers. Another thing is that there is no consensus among feminists on how to do this most effectively: guarantee long maternity leave, create a network of preschools, involve men in childcare, or develop a program that would include all three approaches.
It is important to clarify here: not formal, but actual equality. Not only the equality of rights of people of different sexes "on paper" (we do not have it, it is enough to recall the list of professions prohibited for women), but also opportunities for the realization of these rights.
Is it true that feminists do not want help from men and are not interested in them at all?
- I don't quite understand what you mean by "help from men." If the question is about activism, I personally believe that only women can engage in feminist activism. For the reason that only women fully understand what rights women need. And men are not included in the feminist agenda. So in matters of feminism, men are really not considered.
Veronica is sure: the fact that all feminists do not like men is a myth
- There are women who do not want help from men, they are not interested in them. Some of them are feminists, but a significant part do not consider themselves feminists. Among feminists there are those who are critical of men and believe that victory over patriarchy is possible only by creating associations without men, but this is only one of the directions of feminism.
- Help is great when it is really needed, and it does not depend on the gender of the person who is helping or who or who needs help. Help is often understood as gallantry: I opened the door for her, pushed back a chair in the restaurant, but she did not appreciate it and was offended. Perhaps the fact is that on your part it was not real help (the girl can do all this herself), but a desire to show your interest in her as a sexual partner. Imagine two situations: you are serving a coat to an attractive woman and an old lady in a clinic. Surely the motives for these actions will be different. How many men "helping" girls to put on their coats will carry a heavy stroller onto the bus? So help is good when a person really needs it. And if you are not sure if your participation is necessary, just ask.
Is it true that feminists are very aggressive and provocative?
- Even a girl can be accused of aggression, who simply says that women have the right not to shave their legs (and other parts of their body). And I would like to add that we can be accused of aggression because we broadcast views that are different from those that society lays in us. Everyone has different degrees of psychological protection. Feminists can be provocative (for example, at their actions), of course. But, again, everyone is different. Each separately taken feminist decides for herself how to fight for her rights.
- Some people are aggressive and provocative, especially on the internet. Aggression and provocation are often used by various groups to achieve some kind of political goals. In this sense, feminists are no different. However, in the popular mind there is a fixation on aggression on the part of feminists, because “aggression” is something not feminine. In addition, the expression of emotions by men and women is evaluated differently by others. The same words can be perceived as a justified attempt to defend their position if they are pronounced by a man, or as aggression if they are pronounced by a woman.
Alisa Klotz: “Aggression and provocations are often used by various groups to achieve some political goals.In this sense, feminists are no different."
- All people, regardless of age and gender, have the right to be angry. But, if for men to show anger is considered normal and almost proves their masculinity, then society invites women to be nice and kind. As a result, feelings still appear, but in a veiled form. Feminism for me is about awareness: when you understand that the framework of your behavior as a woman is built artificially, you allow yourself to show aggression. You say to yourself: "Yes, I am a living person, and this particular situation makes me angry / annoying / angry." And you stop being "cute" always and for everyone. As for provocations, most often only those who provoke are noticed (here everyone likes to remember the mythical burning of bras and so on). Those who just live an ordinary life and do not engage in actionism do not fall into the focus of society's attention, and therefore it seems that feminism is only a provocation.
Is it true that feminists expose body parts to attract attention?
- I think that self-objectification is not the best way to promote the feminist agenda. But I am sure that the girls who bare themselves at promotions do not want to draw attention specifically to themselves, they want to draw attention to the problem they are covering.
- The nude body is part of the modern political and artistic language, and feminists use it, like people who are not related to feminism. Feminists may use it more often than others, but only because discrimination against women is based on the belief that bodily differences justify social inequality. Patriarchal society relegates a woman to a “body”: a woman is an object of men's sexual desire, a vessel for bearing children. By stripping naked as part of a protest, a woman regains her right to her body.
- I remember only what shocked me the most. This is most likely about the activists of the Femen movement, although it does not consider itself feminist and speaks out for various reasons: for freedom of speech, same-sex marriage, against pedophilia, prostitution, and even supporting victims of natural disasters. Some of these problems are included in the feminist agenda, plus a self-explanatory name - that's the myth.
We also asked our experts questions that no one could answer in our street-talk on the street.
Is it true that there are over 20 types of feminism?
- In Russia, in my opinion, two currents of feminism are most widespread: radical and intersectional. Of course, there is also socialist feminism, Marxist feminism, liberal feminism, and so on. Each of the currents of feminism has a different view of the cause of the oppression of women and the ways to overcome this oppression (sexism).
- It never occurred to me to count the directions of feminism. It is important that feminism is not United Russia, where everyone unanimously supports the leadership's instructions. Within the framework of feminism, as within the framework of any other political ideology, there is a spectrum of positions. But there is also a common agenda - equality between men and women.
- As in any major movement, feminism has its own currents, and if you wish, you can count a certain number of them. But I am not a supporter of division into types, types, directions, and I do not attribute myself to any particular group. I know of cases when, due to the difference in views, the already few feminists in a small city stopped communicating and doing joint projects, and this is sad.
Olga Vazhenina (left): "Help is great when you really need it"
Can men be feminists?
- No, men cannot be feminists. They may hold feminist views, but they cannot be feminists.
- There are different opinions on this issue among feminists.Someone thinks that they can, since feminism is an ideology of equality and everyone can share it. A few years ago there was even a campaign called This is what a feminist looks like, which starred many famous people, including men, for example, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Others believe that while men may share the views of feminists, they cannot be “feminists”. Therefore, such men should be called "pro-feminists" or "allies." Well, there are groups of feminists who believe that men cannot understand and accept feminism because they cannot give up their privileges.
- I believe that a man cannot be a feminist in the same way as, for example, a breastfeeding consultant. Because men cannot, by definition, have the appropriate experience. There is a concept of male and female gender socialization, and we are all brought up in it: in boys, some qualities are encouraged, in girls, others, boys are allowed to show the same aggression, and a girl must smile, and so on. If a man shares the ideas of feminism and tries to notice sexism in his life and fight against it, he is usually called a pro-feminist.
Is feminism now about the rights of women or about their protection from men?
- Feminism now is about the rights of women. Protection from men, of course, is needed (which is only the statistics on domestic violence, harassment, rape and murder of women), but feminism itself, I repeat, focuses on women and their rights.
- Initially, feminism emerged as a movement for women's rights, and some feminists believe that it remains so. However, over time, many feminists began to reflect on the impact of patriarchy as a system based on normative ideas about gender roles on men. So, for example, a man is expected to be strong, courageous, enterprising, any manifestation of weakness is considered "female". Understanding that all these ideas have nothing to do with "nature" will allow men to free themselves from the dictates of stereotypes and realize themselves depending on individual desires. In this sense, feminism offers liberation to both women and men.
- This is an interesting question, because to some extent, it seems to me, both statements are true. For example, a regularly pop-up topic about a woman's right to abortion: formally it exists in our country, but its implementation is already surrounded by a host of difficulties: go to a psychologist, almost to a priest, explain everything thirty-three times to everyone. Most often men lobby for such difficulties and justify them, they do not hesitate to talk about it in the media. The recent story with the governor of the Penza region illustrates this quite vividly: there the official openly declares that a woman should be discouraged in every possible way from having an abortion, “to fight for every child,” and if the indicators are bad, he threatened to be fired. What is this if not reproductive pressure? In this sense, we can talk about the protection of the rights of women from men.
And finally, a bonus. Not a single (almost) woman in our survey identified herself as a feminist. Therefore, at the same time, we asked about what a woman should do after all, because she is a woman. What is its purpose?
Earlier we said that on March 8, Perm will host the Not Guilty Festival in support of women survivors of domestic violence. The charity concert will take place at the House of the Troubadour.