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Why It's Sad When Women Say They Oppose Feminism

03/03/2015 05:48 EST | Updated 05/03/2015 05:59 EDT

It's very strange to me that the notion of feminism currently seems to be equated with man-hating or man-bashing.

As a feminist myself, surrounded by many other feminists, it's clear that none of us have the least bit of animosity, contempt or destructive wishes toward men.

For feminists the world over, the term identifies those of us who simply want men and women to be regarded as equals and treated as equals. Nothing more and nothing less.

We feminists have nothing against men. We have no wish to take anything away from them. What we do want is for men to share what they have with women.

Feminists don't feel superior to men; we're not angry or hateful toward men, and we don't want to deprive men of what they're entitled to, either.

What we want is to be on an equal playing field; accorded the same rights, privileges and protections as men, as well as the same opportunities and rewards.

Anyone who's paying attention can see that there's nothing anti-men about these wishes.

As a feminist, I acknowledge that there are differences between men and women, as well as the fact that there may be things that some men are better at than some women, and vice-versa, but none of this makes either gender superior or inferior.

I wonder whether those men who decry the notion of feminism simply don't want to share what they have with us, and whether those women who are "against feminism" are simply alining themselves on the side of those who have more.

Men who oppose feminism appear to want it all for themselves; all the power, the money, the rights and privileges, even the freedom to behave badly toward women.

Women who oppose feminism appear to be fearful of alienating men. They must have so little faith in our capabilities as women to advocate for ourselves and to achieve our goal of living as equal, and successful, members of society.

Perhaps these "anti-feminist" women are fearful of potential male backlash against our attempts at becoming equal citizens, or maybe they just don't understand what feminism really is.

It's sad when women say they oppose feminism, because if they bothered to learn what it actually is, how could they disagree with an idea that proposes their having the same rights, opportunities and privileges as men?

Unless of course, these women believe that men wouldn't like them if they were equal. This presupposes that some (perhaps many) women are prepared to abdicate their rights to equal citizenry, believing that this would make them more desirable to men.

What both men and women need to know is that everyone will be happier if women are accorded equal rights.

Women making equal wages will only benefit families; women being regarded as equal will decrease violence toward women, both domestic and otherwise, and women being their best selves will be more interesting, loving, joyful and giving partners to men.

Another important thing that embracing feminism could do is decrease female hostility toward men.

Women who are disenfranchised (whether through their own choice to reject feminism or because of the way things are) very often resent men. They become angry, even enraged toward men who hold the balance of power.

Women often can be contemptuous of their husbands or boyfriends, complaining bitterly about them to their female friends.

Women can leak their hostility toward their partner or explode in anger, all because they're enraged at the obvious, and obviously unfair, power imbalance that exists between a fully empowered male citizen and a woman who is, for all intents and purposes, considered to be a second-class citizen.

We feminists, on the other hand, see ourselves as equal to men, so even if society refuses to accord us our equal rights, we assert our needs in our personal and professional relationships.

Feeling empowered, we have no reason to feel anything other than warmly and positively toward the men in our lives.

Feminists don't tolerate abuse, so we don't build up rage toward men; we assert ourselves in the workplace, so even when we're treated unfairly, just because we're women, we don't resent men so much as bemoan the antiquated, dumb-headed system that prevents us all from being our best selves.

Nothing bad will come of us embracing the notion of feminism. Yes, perhaps some greedy, selfish men will resent having to share, but they'll just have to get over it.

And perhaps some fearful women will want to hold onto the idea that a man will only want them if he doesn't have to respect them, but hopefully they'll see that it's better to be loved as well as respected by the men in their lives.

Feminism is not a dirty word, anymore than love is, or respect, or compassion or consideration. When people see this, perhaps we'll be able to move a bit closer to a world in which men and women get to share all the good things in life, equally.

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