The idea of feminism continues to be met by a lack of awareness and understanding. Why else would a friend of our author ask her if feminists hate men?
When I first became involved in the feminist movement, which was fairly recent, my boyfriend seemed bemused by the idea. Whilst he was going to skating competitions and football matches, I was working with a women’s lobby group and participating in discussions and conventions focused around gender equality. I was drawn to the action, and at first I don’t think he understood why I felt so enthusiastic and driven to get more and more involved. What is the movement about? What do you do? Is it really needed? I mean today’s society is pretty equal right? Where are the problems? Who are these women??
Despite my various attempts to explain the cause and my passion for it, this air of confusion and bewilderment that clouds his understanding of the feminist phenomena persists. On a recent Skype call following my attendance at the Agora European Women’s Lobby summer school, he asked me whether all the participants were “hard-core feminists”, “like do they all really hate men?” In my outburst of a reaction, not only did I try to reassure him that no, feminists do not hate men, but alas, that they too fight for men’s rights, regards stereotypes and the family. A moments silence, a nod of contemplation and a look so intent on understanding followed, yet the vague blankness in his eyes did not hide his failure to fully grasp this bizarre concept.
This small example demonstrates the lack of awareness and understanding that surrounds the notion of feminism today. Having spent 5 intense days with women from all over Europe, I was shocked by the revelation that my own partner could perceive my experience as anything different to the inspiring, beautiful and profound time that it had been. Had he thought that I had embarked on a 5 day witch hunt against all men; that we, a group of cackling rampaging hate fueled women had spent 5 days chanting and scheming around a cauldron brimming with melting footballs and game-boys? Is he concerned that beneath my smiles, carefree ease and banter, I hold a strong hatred against men, which simmers within my blood, harboured for all men but himself, or dare I say, even himself?
It is evident that gender inequality is not taking up enough space in the media, in discussions and in the home. It is a taboo topic, a problem formed of invisible boulders that cannot be touched or seen, and therefore does not exist. The Czech Republic, where I live, has a gender pay gap of 25%, yet the political agenda, speech within the media and civic discussion that surrounds this issue is appallingly low. This is also the case around Europe and indeed the World, where a small number of the population is lobbying for attention on women’s rights, yet the majority of civilians remain unaware, uninterested and worst of all unconvinced of the issues.
This is why movement at the ground level is so crucial. It is down to civil society to get the ball rolling and to spread the word. The more the issue is talked about, the higher the platform it will gain and the more accepted the notion will become. And I guess that all changes begin at home.
The original post was made available by courtesy of Claudia Shute