Women’s organizations have used a variety of platforms to raise awareness and network with advocates, survivors, and the accused; however, recent sexual assault allegations in Hollywood have shown us that an institutionalized veil of silence threatens to stifle feminist movements in even the world’s most liberal societies. Slowly but surely, however, the stigmas are breaking down, and women are finding their voices.
Feminism is not a trend, nor is it a slogan on a fashionable t-shirt. Feminism is a political and social movement, a way of life, and an ideology that advocates equal rights across all genders. In developing countries with fundamental and radicalized patriarchal societies, it is even more necessary that women have a platform and a movement they can identify with. However, in many countries where women face the worst gender inequalities, the label of Western feminism serves as a reproach, rather than a badge.
For feminist movements to succeed in developing nations, these movements need to be moldable to the aims of different movements, groups, and identities.
In recent years, third-world feminists have worked to make the movement their own and separate it from strictly Western ideals.
However, misconceptions about feminism often cause feminists to be falsely labelled as ‘man-haters.’ This ‘man-hating’ backlash continues to be fueled by ignorance and the oratory of a few radical feminists; though it is widely misdirected and inappropriate, feminists have to defend themselves from these accusations on a regular basis.
Gender inequalities are widely prevalent in developed and developing countries alike. From income wage gaps and domestic violence to female genital mutilation and child marriage, feminist movements are needed now more than ever.
There are a plethora of causes that need to be addressed. But, as long as a few radical feminists provoke angry and sexist rhetoric, feminism will not be accepted. Radical feminism is a crutch to the movement, not an answer.
Over the last few weeks, it has been empowering to see the world stand up and support the survivors of Hollywood elites, like Weinstein and Spacey.
Yet, a few radical liberals can do more to harm the movement in an instant than the thousands of brave men and women who have advocated for equality and victim rights over the years. Unfortunately, in the midst of a powerful feminist movement invalidating the power of sexual abusers and harassers in Hollywood, a few stray voices have been pushing the public away from the movement.
When Emily Lindin, a U.S. Teen Vogue writer, tweeted, “I’m not actually at all concerned about innocent men losing their jobs over false sexual assault/harassment allegations,” she was sending a sexist message that not only opposed the ideals of our judicial system, but feminist ideals, as well. Such radical messages promote misconceptions about a movement focused on equality and human rights.
It seems hard to believe that true feminists, as some of the advocates for radical feminism claim to be, would spread such nonsense. Yet, whether it be for attention or to provoke a reaction, radical feminists like Lena Dunham spout messages like these on a regular basis. These radical feminist ideologies threaten equality and alienate men and women sympathizers alike.
Unfortunately, once we associate this radical rhetoric with the feminist movement, real problems arise. Accusers begin to lose credibility, and survivors become victimized all over again.
In this way, radical feminists do more damage to the feminist cause than even the most prevailing anti-feminist movements. Such radicalized expressions do even more damage to third-world feminist movements by discrediting and disenfranchising minority feminist causes.
Therefore, it is especially key that we differentiate between real and radical feminism. One crusade is founded on equality, while the other is rooted in anger.