Last week, I read an opinions article talking about the undermining of the feminist movement by men’s rights activists. The writer made an excellent point: “They [men’s rights activists] ignore the fact that feminist discourse shows an understanding that these issues do not only affect women.”
The article received some strong criticism, and, true to Lewis’ Law, “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” For people to say that the advancement of the women’s rights movement somehow limits or impedes on men’s rights shows that people don’t understand how feminist issues, while centered on women, apply across a broad spectrum and better the lives of more than just women.
Before we get to how feminism helps more than just women, let’s take a look at some statistics to help contextualize the importance of the feminist movement. Women, who make up just short of 50 per cent of the world’s population and 50.4 per cent of Canada’s population, are greatly underrepresented on the political stage. In Canada, only 24 per cent of members in the House of Commons are women. While this is a record number in this country, it is still not close to representing the actual population of women present in the country. Anyone who says this lack of representation is irrelevant is highly in denial of the lack of a voice women have in their government.
One of the most outrageous crimes against women, sexual assault, occurs at such a high frequency and yet is still blown off. The Globe and Mail reported that almost a quarter of university women have been the victim of rape or attempted rape . Stats Canada also reported that women are five times more likely to be the victim of a sexual assault .
While people may take these statistics to undermine the credibility of men’s rights and claim that men are being marginalized, it actually shows issues that disproportionately affect women more than men. This doesn’t mean that the issue in respect to men is being minimized, or that it shouldn’t be discussed, but rather that women are facing these issues in higher numbers, which justifies the reason these issues are pushed in an angle that primarily focuses on women.
The driving force behind feminism, while it places its core values in the advancement of women, serves to challenge traditional patriarchal values. They are helping more than just themselves and making this world a greater place for everyone.
Feminism does not equal women over men – it means taking the steps necessary to equalize the rights of women, and it’s such an uphill battle, it’s easy for anyone who doesn’t look closely enough at the issue to claim that it’s a movement to bring men down. Anyone who denies the value of feminism obviously does not understand the basics of feminism.