With Women’s History Month in full swing, many posts about feminism have started to pop up on social media. Some argue that we don’t need feminism. Some argue that we do and explain the basics of how to fight the patriarchy.
What is disturbing are the amount of posts describing the reasons why men should care about feminism that use women’s relations to men — sister, daughter and wife — to persuade them to care.
But using the “sister, daughter, wife” argument when explaining feminism isn’t right. Even though this argument attempts to humanize the victims of sexism, it furthers the patriarchal idea that a woman is only as valuable as her relationship with a man.
This “sister, daughter, wife” definition is narrow as well. There are plenty of women who may not have these cliched relationships with men. Consider a girl in foster care, or a woman who had to turn away from her family — do these women not deserve feminism just because they are at a different place in their lives?
This definition can be seen across social media. When Kim Kardashian got robbed in Paris in October, many Twitter users initially seemed to agree that this would finally quiet the Kardashian’s seemingly ever-present voice on social media.
Shortly after, many Twitter users changed their views, writing about how we should be cognizant of Kim’s struggle as a mother, a wife and an aunt.
We should be cognizant of Kim Kardashian’s struggle because she is a human being. Getting robbed at gunpoint is invasive and traumatizing — regardless of her gender or relationship to Kanye West.
This way of describing feminism doesn’t just stop with social media — politicians often use this method in their speeches.
Even former President Barack Obama, a considerably progressive politician, has used this logic in his speeches. In his 2013 State of the Union address, he used this rhetoric to tackle general women’s issues.
“We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence,” Obama said.
To use this rhetoric in our own political system continues to further patriarchal ideas. Our politicians who use this reasoning while advocating for gender equality should take a step back and consider how helpful their argument truly is.
It’s 2017, people. This isn’t some radical new idea. Women deserve to be treated as their own individual beings, because they are their own individual beings.
Continuing to talk about women by using their relationships with equal male counterparts does nothing to further gender equality, and it’s time to stop.
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