“What does feminism mean to you?” I asked.
“Feminism to me is inequality,” said one 17-year-old male student, who is a current junior in an international school in Korea. “To me, this whole ideology of feminism began with some good intention, but soon took a long turn when a few participants attempted to utilize it in their advantage against men.”
Even some girls, interestingly enough, gave an unexpected response. “Why do we have to further emphasize the fact that we are being mistreated unfairly in this society?” said Eun-you Jung, a Korean college freshman who has lived her whole life in Korea. “Feminism causes [the] female population to be portrayed as the underdog of the society,” continued Eun-you. “We don’t need a reminder. We can achieve our equality without giving formality or political significance to the matter.”
These statements hold some truth. Some do misuse feminism as an unfair tool to unravel an educational, social, or economic complexity with less moves. Regarding this side effect of feminism, however, I ask: What really began feminism? How much trepidation, frustration, and passive acceptance had to be endured in the past and the present for the movement to be finally heard by the world?
As the world gained access to more food leisure, the mass population received the privilege of learning. Through education, people also gained an opportunity to not only strengthen their intellectual capacity, but also their moral values. As they opened their eyes wider and wider to the world of suppression, pain, suffering, hunger, and the oppressed, they realized that for the past millenniums, they had either intentionally or inadvertently turned their vision against such horrific views. Feminism was one of these institutionalized horrors that had now bobbed above the surface of people’s morality.
Ironically, the term itself may even appear as ‘sexist’ for some of the population. Anti-feminists are likely to argue that if the ideology targets for gender equality, then why even call it “FEMIN-ism”? The truth is that no one can logically argue that women have not been oppressed in the past and even in the present. It is true that women were bound to their family’s household duties; it is true that they were deemed to be unintelligent and weak; and it is, thus, true that they were considered to be subservient to men.
The term “feminism” and the ideas that the word holds do not necessarily attempt to bring the status of men down to that of women in the past; it is to raise the women’s social, economic, and educational status to equivalent ground as men’s. It is, simply put, to line men and women on the same starting line.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Even the most common media in our lives seem to be infiltrated with anti-feminist ideas. Perhaps it is time for us to consider the matter in an objective stance, unswayed by propagandistic hatred and political polarism. Perhaps, finally, it is time to be equal.