Before I start, I’d like to apologise for not blogging for a month. Sorry about that. Basically, exams happened, but they’re done now and normal service has (hopefully) been resumed!
(TW: reference to Nazis)
Anyway, society at large seems to be of the opinion that when an oppressed group gains certain rights or reaches a huge milestone, their oppression is magically over and, therefore, they should be happy and stop complaining. For instance, regarding feminism, there’s a lot of “You’ve got the vote, you can work, what more do you want?” and claims that sexism doesn’t exist anymore in certain countries because women there can vote and work. It’s one of the biggest silencing tactics.
I think this is related to the insult “feminazis”. Evidently, comparing a group campaigning for women’s rights to a group which systematically killed millions of innocent people is really problematic as it is. Another derogatory term which seems to have the same meaning is “militant feminists”,
Generally, these terms mean “feminists who criticise every little thing that might lead to gender inequality”. This confuses me. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of feminism?!
Those “little things” add up quickly, as shown by the fantastic Everyday Sexism project. Those “minor” inequalities might not seem as major as the right to vote and work, but they’re inequalities nonetheless. And as long as gender inequalities exist, feminists will criticise and fight them. It’s what we do.
Gender equality is when women and men have equal rights, not when women have some of the rights enjoyed by men. That’s still an inequality, even if it’s smaller than it was 100 years ago. The pay gap still exists. Rape culture still exists. Stereotypes still exists. Feminism has come a long way, but we’re not done yet.
Of course, this concept applies to many forms of discrimination. Women having the vote doesn’t mean sexism has stopped. The abolition of slavery and segregation doesn’t mean racism has stopped. Widespread awareness of physical/mental health issues and/or disabilities is absolutely necessary and still very much needed, but it doesn’t mean stigma and discrimination surrounding them has stopped. I really don’t understand why same-sex marriage hasn’t been legalised already (in the UK), but when it is legalised, homophobia won’t just stop. The list could go on and on.
In short, having some rights is not the same as having equal rights. The wider societal issues need to be challenged to; all inequalities need to be confronted and criticised, and if that makes me a “militant feminist” then so be it.