By Erin Geneva
Morocco World News
Rabat, July 5, 2013
Feminism is an often misunderstood ideology. Misperceptions of feminism range from a belief that those who call themselves feminists believe they are superior to men, to opinions that affirm feminists eschew all that is traditionally feminine, or also perceptions that feminism is purely concerned with the subjugation of women through patriarchy.
Yet, by imposing fixed gender roles on people, to which they may or may not personally identify-patriarchy also oppresses men. One very prevalent example of this I can see is the Canadian family court system which is greatly favorable to women. I know several perfectly capable fathers who are divorced from the mother of their children. Most of these men are completely heartbroken by the fact that they are deprived of a relationship with their children.
By assuming that child-rearing is a traditionally female role, the court system usually favors the mother in custody arrangements. Men are not often given equal consideration as potential guardians of their children, and many are deprived of not only joint custody-but to regular access to their children at all.
Since coming to Morocco to work for a feminist organization, I have thought a lot more deeply about feminism, and about the damaging effects of patriarchy on both women and men. Patriarchy, pressures men to be macho and unemotional, which, for some men, may go against their true nature. Then there are women like myself, who by preferring to keep their emotions private are labelled as cold because patriarchy asserts that women should be emotionally demonstrative.
Often, by ascribing different emotional roles to women and men, patriarchy hinders the betterment of male/female relationships by obstructing communication. Patriarchy also affects relationships by discouraging men from expressing their emotions as they do not want to lose face by seeming “feminine.”
Now by interning at the association I currently work for (the Voice of the Amazighe Woman) I realize that I am in a situation where I will attract only stories of misogynistic men who embody all of the most negative aspects of patriarchy. I am not getting to hear the stories of sensitive, responsible men who respect women, show equal affection for their daughters and sons, and would never resort to domestic violence. I am not suggesting here that all Moroccan men are patriarchal. I am simply saying that by hearing testimony of domestic violence, and by the amount of sexual harassment I have personally been subjected to since I got here-I have devised that patriarchy does have a presence in Morocco. It also exists in Canada, and I will assert here that to varying degrees-patriarchy exists everywhere.
And so this is where the feminist agenda has a role, in removing patriarchy and bringing about gender equality. True feminism is about bringing gender equality in order to free both women and men from the constraints of a patriarchal system.
Unfortunately, there are many feminists who have misrepresented this cause, and have in my opinion actually become some of the biggest hindrances to feminism. These are the feminists who condemn all things traditionally feminine as oppressive and who assert a negative attitude towards men and try to come up with (generally very weak) evidence to prove that women are inherently superior.
These are the “feminists” who will belittle a stay- at-home mother who enjoys frequent trips to a beauty salon as backward, and weak. True feminists, would respect a woman’s choice to choose a traditional lifestyle. They would just assert that such a lifestyle choice should actually be a choice, not an obligation.
Then there are the feminists who argue that patriarchy only affects women and do not show any concern for the damaging effects of patriarchy on men. This is a hindrance to the feminist agenda, as only by the collaboration of both women and men can patriarchy be removed.
I am ashamed to admit, that even a few years ago, I would not have identified as a feminist . This is due to the misrepresentation of feminism by “feminists” who actually deter people from their cause by a negative attitude towards men, and the belittling of traditional feminine roles.
Hopefully, these so called “feminists” will stop misrepresenting the feminist cause, so that more people will understand what feminism is really about and then women and men can collaborate to further the feminist agenda.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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