There are many problems surrounding feminism, but not flaws in the idea itself.
To write on the subject of feminism, not even especially from a male point of view such as my own, is always a terribly difficult endeavor because of the stigma attached to speaking openly. There is an invisible list of opinions not to be breached, subjects to shy away from and of course, the idiotic specter of ‘Bad Feminism’.
The idea of Feminism is painfully simple but it gets so utterly bogged down in political correctness overall (depending on with whom you are discussing) that it is enshrouded in huge veils of misinterpretation. You will always get the patriarchal bumpkins that are convinced that feminism is hell bent on destroying the rights of men, that is a given. We live in a world where education on basic human principles is granted to a limited few and has for very long time, been governed by the male elite. On the other side of the table, there are a handful of feminists that hold an extremist’s view, where all males are inherently evil and cannot be changed. Both parties give equality a bad name and both parties, because of their salacious nature, garner the most media attention.
I was raised a feminist without realising or caring, who has the time to when there is dirt to roll in and trees to climb? In my early teens I took a dislike to the idea because my understanding was that of a staunchly anti-male group that simply didn’t represent my views; none of which were unfounded. I never stopped caring about equality or the rights of women, but I was angered at the labels being lambasted at me because of my genital disposition. I couldn’t understand why, throughout all of my best intentions, I was still an evil patriarch that had no intent for change to the system and a soul purpose to be an oppressor. This left me with a bad taste in my mouth for many years and I loathed the idea of Feminism, even arguing against it, though what I was really arguing against was the misinterpreted idea that I had been sold.
As we grow and evolve into our own solitary units of humanity, our ideas and perceptions change and adapt, forging endless possibilities of a personality that will be accepted into society by way of tax and labour.
I arrived back at the feminist door and entered of my own free will, not because of a rising trend in social media or for nefarious means, but out of a solid understanding that it promoted nothing more than fairness and equality between men and women. The problem is that there are still flaws within our perceptions as a society and indeed within Feminism itself that need to be addressed but rarely are. These arise from domestic violence unto men from women, fathers’ rights, rape and so on. It is almost taboo to speak up for the male side as it is seen as anti-feminist. This is where the ground becomes muddy and people fall back into the confused ideals of an extremist society.
Equality between men and women isn’t exactly as straight forward as drawing a clear line in the sand and then saying that everything we can do you can do as well; that line of thought is downright daft.
To start with, we have distinct physical and mental differences that are obvious to even the most casual observer, but that does not mean a ‘weakness’, it is just a non-biased fact, a fact I might add, that is a rough generalization. Women have held down hard grafting manual labour jobs for as long as humanity existed, and men have had the ability to raise children for just about the same amount of time. It is insulting to both sexes to say that one is not fit for the abilities of the other, though on a case by case basis, it can be deduced whether or not each certain individual can accomplish a variety of tasks.
On a darker note, although the reality of a man being raped or physically abused by a woman does not seem very plausible because of our general size and physicality, it does not mean to say that it doesn’t exist. As was the subject for many of Aesop’s’ fables, strength was not always the be all and end all. Unfortunately there is a stigma attached to being the victim of domestic abuse as a male, a stigma that has been designed and implemented by our backwards culture. It does not always have to be physical, and many cases of female on male abuse are psychological. On occasions this can lead to a physical outburst by men who are pushed to the tipping point, lashing out and harming their partner. Now this is where things become so muddy that you might as well not try and see through the quagmire. I would never be one to condone physical violence, but it is not always as black and white as it may first seem. I recently found myself in the midst of an incident very similar to this and had a very hard time defending the male victim who had been a part of it. Even on explaining my feminist standings, some people were adamant that it was just a shady excuse to permit and excuse domestic violence.
Until an understanding is reached within our ever changing world about the reality and logicality of feminism, it is going to be a very long uphill struggle trying to convince people to use their heads with a rational stand point rather than treading haphazardly across the decrepit rope bridge of snap judgment.
I would hope that deep down we all want equality and fairness for everyone but without the proper education and conversation surrounding it, it is nigh impossible to achieve.
Ignore the voices of dissent and misinterpretation for they posses no intent for progression; instead focus on the positives and the ideals we would hope to set for our children and future generations.
We have come a long way, but there are still many, many miles to go before we see an end to inequality.
By Dominic Knight
Dominic Knight is a musician, writer and filmmaker from nowhere in particular. A painful addiction to peanut butter and gin give way to delusions of feminism.
Photography by Laura Brown
Laura Brown is a Brighton based filmmaker & photographer – working exclusively with 35mm film and shooting on the Yashica T series. Co-founder of ILK, a collaborative duo specialising in visual art.