I tried not to get too frustrated reading the Oct. 12 column “The feminine mystep,” because it’s been refreshing and enjoyable to hear feminism at the forefront of social discussions on Duke’s campus recently. In that respect, I truly appreciate the author’s words. But, frankly, the column was ironic. In critiquing feminism for making generalizations, the author made many generalizations himself.
Now let me get something straight: I don’t know any woman, or any person for that matter, who prefers to be told she or he is dumb instead of being given flowers and support. But hey, everyone loves a good perpetuation of the hairy-legged, man-hating, lesbian feminist—it’s an easy go-to when critiquing a movement you know nothing about.
Feminism is not about emasculating men, making them uncomfortable or ignoring those sympathetic to its cause. Feminism is about autonomy. In a world where man is “A” and everything is measured terms of A—leaving women seen as not-A—feminists strive to be “B.” That is the primary claim of feminist theory. And if you’re asking us to embrace the mainstream and “accept the majority,” you’re missing the point. A society shaped by phallocentrism and sexism cannot be changed by a pop singer in a neon bra-let telling us to let our true selves shine. I’m sorry, but that’s just not the way it works. Study intersectionality, look at your own privilege and get back to me.
Articles like this promote patriarchal thought, although perhaps unintentionally. Articles like this invite people to say, “I am not a feminist, but I support the equal rights of women.” The fear of being associated with the feminist movement is disconcerting—many people don’t want to face the social stigma concomitant with feminism. Ultimately, the veracity of a claim is determined by its origin. And perhaps if the author had walked into the women’s center once before writing his column, he would understand.