Written by Tay Ang Chun, Thomas:
If I asked a man to name a feminist, the majority would name famous women like Gloria Steinem. How many of them would name men like Barack Obama or John Lennon, who fought hard for the feminist movement? A feminist is someone who believes that both genders should be equal; men can be feminists too. The fact that most feminist programmes are targeted at women has created the misconception that feminists must be women, and some even view it as a movement that wants the absolute dominance of women.
I would like to clarify this misconception, as I believe that the fight for gender equality has not gone too far. In this essay, I shall limit “going too far” to inequality towards men.
Firstly, the fight for gender equality has brought about equal rights. For instance, women could rarely attend formal education in the past. However, the rise of the feminist movement in the 1960s soon led to a law in 1972 passed to punish schools which discriminated against gender, and now 57% of all college graduates in the USA are women. Therefore, we can see that the gender inequality in education has decreased, which in turn is due to the feminist movements and other struggles for gender equality. Thus, we cannot say that it has gone too far.
Nevertheless, there are still some who say that men are the ones being trodden upon by the feminist movements. For example, they point fingers at Hollywood, which recently portrayed men as psychopaths and bullies hurting intelligent women in box-office films such as Silence of the Lambs. However, there have also been numerous examples of recent movies that also portray men in a positive light while patronising women; In Transformers the main characters were males and any female characters were placed there as eye candy. Moreover, men have been cast in a negative light long before the feminist movements, in movies such as Strangers on a Train (1951). Hence, we can see that the “mistreatment” of men due to the feminist movement is nonsense, as the perception towards men has not changed greatly.
Furthermore, we must not forget that despite all the efforts to promote gender equality, we are still a far cry away from complete gender equality. For example, 90% of all billionaires are men.People still use derogatory terms such as “women’s work” to refer to secretarial positions. In London, 79% of women claim that they feel discriminated against. If we cannot even grant women a fair voice in the workplace, how can we even claim that men are being discriminated against?
In essence, the outcome of the fight for gender equality is simply equality. Due to misunderstandings, people may inadvertently view it as a fight for the superiority of women, but it is simply about letting everybody achieve their highest potential. Let us hope that the world can soon awaken to this, and understand this quote: “[A woman] is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man. Likewise, she is never less.”