TW: Abuse, rape
“I hate the word feminism and everything it stands for. Feminists are man hating, self-serving, arrogant, entitled women. Feminists just want to dominate men and have “girl power”, not caring how many men they have to step on to rule the world,” she said to the group. I listened with an open mind and a compassionate heart. I listened to her words, filled with anger and brimming with disgust. I listened as she accused thousands of women she didn’t know of being a certain way. I listened, without interrupting, as she vented her frustrations about feminists, specifically the “man hating radical feminists”. As she spoke, I watched the other women in the room nodding in agreement and the occasional comment of “yup” and “completely agree”. My heart broke into pieces. I said nothing because I knew it would be fruitless and not received. I just observed, my chin in my hands and eyes filled with tears thinking about the “man hating feminists” I know, have spoken to online, or have met in passing.
I thought of “Elaina”, a woman I met online in a group we are both part of, who at the age of 14 was pimped out by her uncle as “one of his girls” and forced her into prostitution. She spent her teenage years being raped and abused for money by hundreds of men. She was rescued at age 17 by a Christian ministry who works with human trafficking victims.
I thought of “Tina”, who I know through a friend, who was raised by an abusive father who beat his wife and kids and forced his older daughters to do sexual things to him.
I thought of “Tia”, who I met while doing ministry at a church, who was only a child when her father started forcing her to perform oral sex on him well into her teen years.
I thought of my friend “Layla” who had a father who was a drunk and spent her entire life telling her how worthless she was, how she would never amount to anything, and that she was a waste of space.
I thought of the woman I saw on an interview who had been first sexually abused by a male babysitter, then by an older male cousin, then by an older brother, then raped in college by a college guy while walking home from a party.
I thought of “Jennifer” who was beaten by her husband their entire marriage and almost killed her, twice.
I thought of an acquaintance, “Kelsey”, who dated a guy who emotionally, sexually, verbally, and physically abused her to the point where she had lost her entire family, her friends, and had been so isolated she tried to kill herself.
I thought of the woman I met online who shared her story with me. She had been abused by her father growing up, raped by a boyfriend, and had only ever known men to use her for her body.
I thought of the woman who shared her story with me and made me promise not to tell anyone. I regretted that promise about 5 minutes later. Luckily, she was able to get help and is now thriving and no longer hateful of men. She married a man she thought was a Godly man only to find out he was just like her father and brothers – dominating, insulting, oppressive, and thought women were basically baby making machines. She hated men up until a few years ago when she asked the Lord to help her forgive.
After reading the above stories I hope I have been able to give you some perspective and pulled at your heartstrings. “Man hating feminists”, as they are called, are normal women who have been so beaten down, abused, and used by men they have grown to hate the entire sex! And, given the above circumstances, I would hope you would understand why. While I don’t condone hating people I get why some people do. I used to rag on feminists because, I too, believed they were all just a bunch of man haters.
The majority of feminists do not hate men. They love them, they’re married to them, or they ARE one. They also just love women, all women, equally, and believe they should be treated as just that – equals. But when you see a feminist who appears to have a chip on her shoulder against men, maybe consider that she has been hurt by the men who should have protected and loved them. So instead of labeling women such as these as ‘man haters’, consider showing them compassion. Pray for them, that God would heal their wounds and help them to forgive, but certainly not forget, so that they may use their pain to help others heal.
I challenge you, those of you who hate feminists and think feminists are just a bunch of man haters (which is a common misconception and the minority of feminists), to consider something. Consider that maybe these women who hate men, talk badly about men, or have a chip on their shoulder towards men have been abused by trusted men in their lives. The very men who should love them, protect them, and nurture them have abused them, used them, or been hateful to them – fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, friends, boyfriends, husbands, pastors, counselors. Consider that feminism is for you and even if you don’t always like the way it is presented it doesn’t change the fact that the women who use the label are fighting for you and speaking up for you – even if you don’t feel that you need them to. And, maybe YOU don’t. Maybe you are blessed to have a life filled with amazing men who treat you as an equal, have never known a moment of abuse or felt fear for being a woman. Maybe YOU have always been protected, loved, valued, and heard by the men in your life. That is amazing, I WISH that for every woman. However, that is not even close to every woman’s experience. If that is your experience, I celebrate with you…but, you are the exception – not the rule, unfortunately. Thousands upon thousands of women experience abuse. Statistics show 1 in 2 women will experience some form of abuse in her life, 1 in 5 will be raped, and 1 in 3 will have escaped an attempted attack. Check out www.rainn.org/ for more statistics – your mind will be blown. I will warn you, once you read the stats you can’t unsee them. It was statistics like this that caused me to be vocal and to be aware of my own privilege and aware of what is happening to women all over the world – simply for being women.
I urge you, before calling another woman a “feminist” with disdain in your words – ask yourself, why does it make you so angry that women are standing up and speaking out for other women? Why does it disgust you that women are angry that women have been treated as “less than” (as a whole) by men for thousands of years? What SHOULD disgust you is the reason we need feminism, the reasons women speak out, the reasons so many women hate men, the statistics, etc. THAT should disgust you – not the word feminism. It shows a huge problem in our society when people are more concerned about feminists than they are about the issues feminists are speaking out about.
Instead of assuming, ask. Ask other women why they believe in or support feminism. Hearing other women’s stories is amazing and so eye opening. It gave me a muchneeded wake up call. Listen to their stories to understand and empathize…not to cut them off and discredit them. Listen to the stories of those who have gone before and fought for women’s rights. Listen to the women who speak up for the mothers, sisters, etc.
Yes, feminism, like pretty much every other group of people, has people who take it to extremes and make a bad name for the group…Christians do it all the time but we don’t stop calling ourselves Christians. I don’t support the man hating but, I have learned to have compassion on those who do and to ask myself: what has happened to this woman to make her hate men so much? Who hurt her? Who abused her? Who told her she was a waste? Who traumatized her?
A feminist is simply this: one who believes women and men are equal.
If you believe that, congratulations, you are probably a feminist (by definition). However, you don’t have to take on a label to support something. You can believe in the equality of women and support it, and advocate it without ever using the word. The important part, to me, is to help people understand the need for feminism and why it matters. It’s important for me to see women stop tearing other women down for standing up for their rights, speaking out against the abuse of women, and advocating for the safety and equality of all women.