In The Community
The feminist movement is fighting for human lives and for the rights that we should all have when we’re born.
Recent events like the overturning of Roe v. Wade are more than enough proof of that. If a human being losing autonomy over their own body doesn't alarm you, I don't know what will.
In simple terms, feminism advocates for equality between men and women in all aspects of life. The concept has gotten lost for many that choose not to educate themselves on the subject and not only believe but also spread the idea that feminism is fighting for the superiority of one gender and not equality.
Furthermore, the feminist movement is not an attack on men, far from it. Feminism views all people as human beings deserving of a quality life as it fights against social injustices prevalent in our society.
There's nothing out of this world about the feminist movement; after all, one would think that there’s no reason for one gender to be lesser than the other in our society when we are all humans. But our world was built upon patriarchy, and men have been the ones in positions of power for far too long.
And yes, the movement is flawed, mainly where it concerns women of color and non-cisgender women. Women of color, queer, and trans women fight for more than just gender equality, and we can't be truly equal if we solve one issue but not the others.
The effect of poverty, racism, systematic oppression, and homophobia on women of color is also why the concept of intersectionality in feminism was introduced. Coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, she introduces the concept as "a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other." When different forms of discrimination overlap, we can't just ignore one for the other, because if we do no equality has been achieved.
The feedoms and struggles of women in the U.S. look different for women in other countries. We need feminism because young girls and women are still fighting for fundamental human rights in many parts of the world.
In most countries in Latin America, for example, abortion is still heavily penalized, and reproductive rights for women are practically nonexistent. With some of the highest poverty rates in the world, access to contraception and sex education is not a given.
Femicide prevails across the world. About 66,000 women and girls are violently killed annually, accounting for approximately 17 percent of all victims of intentional homicides. A report published in 2016 by the Small Arms Survey, showed that "among 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world, 14 are from Latin America and the Caribbean."
El Salvador and Honduras stand out with rates of more than ten female homicides per 100,000 women. The level of violence affecting women in El Salvador and Honduras exceeds the combined rate of male and female homicides in some of the 40 countries with the highest murder rates in the world, such as Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Tanzania.
Body autonomy and violence are just a few of the issues in the fight for equality. Phrases like, "I'm not one of those crazy feminists" or "women aren't oppressed," need to be used as teachable moments rather than just brushed off casually as just another knock on women. The more we destigmatize the word, the more we can actually achieve understanding from those who are willing to listen and learn.
Roe v. Wade being repealed had immediate consequences.
Communities and industries are scrambling to navigate this new world. Doctors trying to make sense of vague legislative language, residents in Georgia can now claim their unborn child on their state tax returns and lawyers are already looking into privacy issues around health data.
So why are white feminists filling our feeds with comparisons from Margaret Atwood’s famous 1985 novel of dystopian horror The Handmaid’s Tale?
Hulu’s 2017 show based on Atwood’s novel is already in its 5th season, where it centers around the protagonist, Offred, as she navigates life in totalitarian Gilead. Gilead takes place in what used to be the United States after a radicalized religious sect calling themselves the Sons of Jacob following fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible removes women’s rights and enslaves all child-bearing women to be “handmaids.” These handmaids are tasked with raising birth rates within Gilead as the world is ravaged by pollution and radiation which has made most people, including men, sterile.
As the show progresses, you see women in the show lose their right to work, then their jobs, then their ability to own property, with these rights immediately transferring over to the immediate men in their lives. For some women, this means their husbands now own everything and for others it could be estranged brothers or even their fathers. Regardless of the situation they find themselves in, one thing is clear: women are not in charge of their own destinies anymore.
To declare that this fictionalized show is indicative of a possible future for themselves is tone-deaf and ignores the current reality of real-world horrors that have existed in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities for decades. Defacto forced births are not new to these communities.
It’s outlandish to see white feminists comparing the loss of abortion rights as comparable to those seen in the show. The fact that the defeat of Roe immediately inspired a leap to the only example of reproductively oppressed white women in mainstream media indicates how litle they are aware of the history of child separation, defacto and actual forced birthing, and physical and mental violence as a tool in communties of color.
\u201cOn The Handmaid's Tale: Margaret Atwood basically took what happened to Indigenous, Black and Brown women in the US historically and applied it to white women in a work of fiction. Then and only then did a log of white folks realize how horrific that stuff is. It's infuriating\u201d— Tanesha, BSN RN (@Tanesha, BSN RN) 1656174226
And the list doesn’t stop there. The United States disturbingly and famously used Puerto Rican and Black women as reproductive guinea pigs to test birth control both to test its safety for white women, and as a form of eugenics.
\u201ci've said it before and i'll say it again: your handmaid's tale allegories are tired and dusty. your turn to (white) fiction erases the very real history of gynecology and the continued sterilization of black, indigenous, and hispanic people\u201d— virgo's groove fan (@virgo's groove fan) 1656087531
So maybe let’s skip the shock value of comparing fictionalized suffering and get to work advocating for communities who are still reeling from the horrors of sustained reproductive abuse. It would be easy for women of color to say, “welcome to the club” but too much is at stake for everyone, including men. Now that so many more women are feeling the direct impact of the abuse, this makes it a perfect opportunity to work together to dismantle the club instead of welcoming more women into it.
In so many ways hypermasculinity is still overly present in today’s world. Some aspects of life for women have incrementally changed for the better and many men are actively making an effort to unlearn machista behaviors, but machista attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors have been normalized for so long that both men and women might not even realize they are perpetuating or enabling harmful behaviors.
This happens especially in the Latino community where machista comments or behaviors are often brushed off in the name of “culture” or tradition, but just because something has been normalized in culture doesn’t mean that we can’t actively work to change the way things are.
Here are the top signs you’re harboring conscious or unconscious machista beliefs that apply to the entire gender spectrum:
You think women and people capable of pregnancy are the only ones responsible for avoiding a pregnancy.
When an unplanned pregnancy does happen, many still default to blaming the woman for not “taking care of herself.” So if this thought has ever come to you after finding out someone unintentionally became pregnant think to yourself, why would your mind immediately jump to ascribing responsibility to the pregnant person when it’s two people who share the responsibility? With so many methods of effective birth control available for all parties, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But better yet, skip the blame and show some empathy. Your energy is better spent extending support for whatever may come next.
You think women shouldn’t curse, be too loud, or direct, or basically engage in any behavior that is typically associated with masculinity.
Not only does enforce gender roles but is also a big part of another social concept known as “marianismo” which refers to the idea that the female gender is one-dimensional and assigned specific characteristics attributed to femininity. Both men and women can be brainwashed into believing that women are supposed to be “pure” and always striving towards some non-sensical and unrealistic standard of perfection, but in marianismo, we often see this being carried out by women who then perpetuate this harmful belief in their own children.
You think women are not “respecting” themselves based on the clothes that they choose to wear.
By now we should all know very well that no matter what someone is wearing they deserve respect because they are a fellow human beings, period. And we certainly know that what someone is wearing has nothing to do with the behavior others take or don’t take because of it. Many still perpetuate the idea that showing skin is immoral or that men won’t be able to control themselves. Not only is this abhorrently untrue but it also perpetuates victim blaming. Women can wear whatever they want and show as much as they want, getting unwanted stares or comments is NEVER their fault, it is the person who lacks basic human decency, respect, and self-control.
You think it’s wrong for women to have an active sexual life.
Women are still very much shamed for having multiple sexual partners which is the same behavior that men have been praised for since the dawn of time. On top of that women are shamed from being vocal about their sex lives; again a concept rooted in both machismo and marianismo, because the reason for it, is that women have a duty to be “pure” or “modest.” But an active sex life is part of most human’s lives and how a person decides to express it is their decision and their decision only. We keep having to repeat this but it seems like it cannot be said enough, nobody should get to dictate what another person does with their body.
This one is appalling, but so common that it’s hard to be surprised when you see this happening. A mother is expected to be perfect in every way, but fathers always get away with doing the bare minimum, and not only that but they are praised for it. Not too long ago it was very common to see posts on social media where moms would leave their children with their father for some time while they had to do something else (take a shower, go to the gym etc) and the punchline of the joke was always that the father couldn’t be left alone with the child for too long because the dad is “useless” and can't be alone without making some sort of mess. It also happens in relationships without children, when it comes to house chores. This machista behaviour has a name: weaponized incompetence, and it is something that is done as a way to avoid responsibility, because if you are bad at doing something, then you won’t be asked to do it again. In a relationship, especially in one where there’s children involved this is a disgusting manipulation technique. Man acting like children that need to be taken care of in every way, instead of a partner who is there to help, is very much machismo behavior.
The #mentalload on women is real #weaponizedincompetence #dobetter #BillboardNXT
\u201cI had to fucking see this now you do too\u201d— phoenecian thanker (@phoenecian thanker) 1563285588
The societal problem we have with dismantling these behaviors is that they are normalized, even encouraged sometimes. However, this doesn’t mean that people can’t change how they think. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to change a value system, but it’s absolutely possible. As we come to realize the flaws and toxic aspects of our society, we can always choose to unlearn and relearn and to educate those around us.