Just to be clear, I know this is only one of many other images, most of them very inspirational. Take a look at them at the links below.
I’ve done a few videos about feminism, (and some of the posts on my old blog were about it), but I’m no expert. What’s puzzling me right now is that at no point did it seem to me that Feminism was either a 12-step program or about denying agency to anyone. The few times it HAS been presented me as such, well, it resembles more an attempt to assert power over someone emotionally rather than empower them to stop hurting themselves.
So look at this sign from the Who Needs Feminism campaign over at Facebook by students at Duke University (a campaign I like, because we really do need it). Image initially found by Abbynormal0ne on Buzzfeed.
So what’s the problem with this? In a culture where the prospect of showing an exposed crotch on TV sends people to their fainting couches, but the screams of someone being raped in the next room are considered disturbing at most (and what’s really disturbing, by some considered titillating), how is this not a good sign?
Because at its heart, Feminism is about three things: the value of a person, people having agency, and people having the power to use the latter to defend the former. Let me break it down.
- All people are of equal inherent worth.
- Each person needs the mental freedom to make their own choices in order to thrive, including the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
- As much as possible, we need the physical freedom to act upon these choices without acting upon others (though acting with them or upon them with their informed and free consent is a grey area that people fight over, and which I don’t want to get into right now).
I feel like the sign above puts someone in the position of feeling like they are accused of something they didn’t know they were doing without giving them even a glimpse of a way to correct it. Not only that, but the average person who hears “rape culture” is going to react the way anyone does when you turn the jargon up to 11; they’re going to tune you out and assume you’re yet another extremist, and position themselves in the “reasonable center” and feel smug about how fair their being (when in essence they will remain the center of the problem).
An alternative might be: “I need feminism because it makes me question my assumptions about men & women (and the assumptions of my culture).” You could snip it up and turn it around like so: “I need feminism because it makes me question my culture, and my place in it.”
Now THAT is empowering.