Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes a clear point when she explains in her TED talk that she described herself at a certain point as “a happy African feminist who does not hate men and who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men” in order not to insult anyone or being labelled something nowadays is called “Feminazi”: an angry, man-hating, hysterical woman who makes a big fuss about nothing.
And she is right – hardly any word in pop culture is as loaded as the word “Feminist”: in 2014 Time Magazine included the term in the list of words that should be banned in 2015 – and later apologized after their list caused a great uproar. Although often believing in the values of equality between the sexes, many women and men (yes, men can be feminists as well!) don’t dare to call themselves feminists, fearing the rejection of their environment. I have witnessed a conversation when a young woman fiercely rejects being called a feminist or anything related to it although she was deeply irritated by the gender pay gap and agreed that it has to be closed.
While it is easy to accept feminism as a global movement, especially when the popular actress Emma Watson supports the United Nations’ “He for She” campaign or large-scale facts about worldwide developments are pulled out, in developed countries it appears to be inconvenient to speak about inequalities. „Women have already achieved everything!“ – this sentence expresses the attitude of many people in modern societies. There is no real debate about equality anymore, what is left is a war of beliefs and ideologies and shallow attempts to denounce the opponent. Liberal scholars, for example, claim that often the greatest gender issues as income inequality, the gender wage gap and sexual violence are myths caused by misinterpretations of statistics. On the other hand, some feminists repeat that exactly these attitude reproduce discrimination by society and the economic system – how can these two perspectives be reconciled? Exactly – they can’t!
Of course it is important to have an exchange of ideas, but when the dialogue got lost on the way, the fight for women’s rights got plain ugly and dull. Instead of being uncomfortable with the topic or repeating other people’s positions, it is crucial that everyone individually develops an own opinion and as a consequence allows people to decide what they want to be – feminists or not. Only when the blame game ends, it will be possible to really grasp the truth and identify the challenges that have to be tackled.
With this in mind – happy International Women’s Day!