1. What's a Feminist Anyway?
Gloria Steinem was recently interviewed by Russia Today.
No matter your feelings about Steinem, I think the interview is worth reading, especially because the interviewer is a bit... challenging. Nonetheless, Steinem states two feminist truths that I think most decent people could get behind. One, when asked to define feminism, she responded: "It means the belief in the full social, economic, political equality of males and females – that’s it. So a man can be a feminist, a woman can be a feminist. It is very simple...." And two, when asked what the biggest strength of a woman was, she responded "That we are human beings."
Perfect, simple answers. Why are they so scary to some people?
2. Here's Why
In an opinion piece in the The Cornel Daily Sun, Carolyn White explores the "F-word that makes more men and women cringe than the infamous four-letter word we use all too frequently."
She writes, "At the core of the matter is not opposition to women’s equality, but rather, the stigma attached to the term 'feminist.'" Everyone knows the stigma. It ranges from the immature Feminists-Are-Ugly variety to more serious charges that all feminists hate men. White urges people to set aside their personal prejudices against feminism and become part of a larger international "movement to eradicate violence against women."
That should be pretty easy for people to do. Assuming, of course, they believe in both the full equality of men and women, and in the humanity of women.
3. Speaking of Which...
When Christian anti-feminists regularly remind Western women that they have it much better than their Muslim counterparts it always seems a bit pretextual to me. It's like, how much do these anti-feminists really care about the status of women? Are they just criticizing the treatment of Muslim women as a pretense for demonstrating how Christianity is superior to Islam?
Anyway, I'm just saying that it's easier for me to take feminist critiques of the treatment of women in non-Western parts of the world more seriously when they come from people who agree with the general tenets of feminism. So, for a fascinating account of a civilized feminist debate about Islam and honor killings, check out this piece in The Chesler Chronicles.
Generally, I think that anti-feminist Christians who critique Islam under hopes of perhaps showing how Christianity is the Best Religion of All forget that, while there are many differences between their religions, there are similarities, as Dorchen Leidholdt writes in the piece:
"[R]eligious scholars point out that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share many of the same roots, and I am struck over and over by the similarities of the three major monotheistic world religions. So many of the prophets and precepts are virtually identical. Sadly, all three in text, interpretation, and practice are pervaded with misogyny that can be used to justify violence against women."
The misogyny and sex-based prejudice in all 3 male-centric monotheistic religions is what all feminists, women and men alike, should be opposing.