Serious Feminism

This is what a feminist looks like

This is what a feminist looks like

So much of what the word feminist conjures up for most people is totally wrong.  Feminism is not about hating or even disparaging men.  Feminism is not about treating women as superior beings, it is quite simply about equality.  I’m not someone who believes that men are inherently evil and are the plague that needs stamping out, but rather that women and men should be able to co-exist and be cherished for their differences, not excluded or diminished for them. One thing that the more astute of you will have noticed is that I’m a man and yet I call myself something which is predominantly known by the general public as the exclusive reserve of those without a Y Chromosome.  This is not only wrong, but indeed part of the problem. The word feminist is purely descriptive.  As Aziz Ansari recently said:

“So, I feel like if you do believe that, if you believe that men and women have equal rights, if someone asks if you’re feminist, you have to say yes because that is how words work,” he says, joking, “You can’t be like, ‘Oh yeah I’m a doctor that primarily does diseases of the skin.’ Oh, so you’re a dermatologist? ‘Oh no, that’s way too aggressive of a word! No no not at all not at all.’”

There are some who thing that it’s only weak mean who announce themselves as feminists.  I can tell you that this is also not true.  Many men with similar viewpoints to mine will try to avoid this awkwardness by watering down their position to only call themselves ‘feminist allies’, furthering the myth that only women can be true feminists.  It stakes a strong person to stand up for what they believe in, regardless of who they are, so no, I don’t buy it that only weak men are feminists.

Two of the women I have dated shared with me that they were raped.  Neither of them said anything to any authority figure – particularly not their parents, with one of them saying that she believed this revelation would make her father think he had failed as a parent, because of the actions of someone else entirely when she was walking home from school.  So I can absolutely believe that the estimates of unreported sexual assaults are correct, if not conservative.  The number of women I have dated is not much higher than that, which makes it a frightening percentage of the women I’ve known intimately who’ve experience such horrific circumstances.  I thought that maybe it was because I generally try not to be an asshole towards women that I had attracted a disproportionate number of women who had experienced sexual assault.  That was, until I read the posts to the #yesallwomen hashtag.  That was when I learned that it was actually not just incredibly common, but actually that #yesallwomen have experienced something of the like. This.  This is why I am a feminist.

I have often struggled during my life, I have to fight anxiety and depression nearly constantly (a fight that I am proud to say, I’m winning) but really, I have gone through life on easy mode.  I am a straight, white, middle-class male with no religious affiliations.  In short, no one persecutes me just for being me.  Therefore, if I have struggled with life, even though half the world automatically gives me an advantage, based on nothing but my genetics, how do women deal with such things?

The current trend for posting placards as to why you don’t need feminism make me sad for all kinds of reasons.  But firstly, I am happy that the women posting have the ability and nerve to publicly voice their opinions, even if I don’t agree with many of them and nor do I think many include much research or understanding.  They seem to be based on the misconception that feminism and having healthy relationships with males are incompatible.  Whereas to me, that’s entirely what feminism is, it’s about having healthy relationships with everyone.  Treat everyone equally and it’ll all work out in the end, right?

Right now, given that this is a software blog, I bet you’re wondering where the software content is, right?  Actually, you’ve probably already guessed.  There is an overwhelming imbalance of gender in software.  It’s not because males are inherently better at it, but because we, as the wider software community tend to discourage women from being part of our club.  We do this in a bunch of different ways, some of which are subconscious, but a large number aren’t.  I don’t want to list them, because it can all be summed up by Wil Wheaton’s philosophy of “Don’t be a dick” and actually, things will work themselves out.

But more importantly, the events involving @SeriousPony and how she and her children were targeted just because she was a prominent woman in an overly-male industry.  I wouldn’t be able to do it justice if I attempted to recount the events here, but they are truly shocking and terrible.  She suggested she would remove the post soon, but I recommend reading it here, if it’s still around.  I’m not even outraged at her treatment, I’ve gone way beyond that and have shifted squarely into total despair for all of humanity, if even a small portion of it is capable of such endeavours. So yes, I am a feminist and I think you should be too.  Not all women are equals… yet.