I have, of course, known what feminism is for most of my life, at least as a vague concept. It wasn't until about six months ago that I noticed feminism as a modern issue surfacing on the internet and in conversation. I felt like I should be informed of issues facing modern women, so I delved into the world of internet feminism. I went into it with an open mind. But I've decided modern feminism isn't for me. And this is why.
For a large part of my childhood and teenage years, I was raised in a repressive religious setting where a literal patriarchy controlled everything that everyone did. If men's lives were strictly monitored, women's were ten times more so. They owned no property, had no personal finances, no control over their reproductive health, and only token control over their choice of husband. Women were expected to marry, bear children, and keep the house, and defer to their husbands in all decisions.
That life wasn't for me or my family and to make a very long story short, we left, re-assimilated into society, and I was accepted into a top private university on academic scholarships. Even though we had been back "in the real world" for several years, I was in culture shock for the first few weeks of my move to a major city for college.
Living in a city I experienced a lot of the things that come up in feminist conversations about being a woman. I've been catcalled, told to smile by random strangers, groped by both men and women in a dark bar, called "sweet tits" on the subway, and in one notable experience a homeless man at least thirty years my senior asked for my hand in marriage while my friends laughed so hard they could barely breathe. I laughed too, once I was away from the homeless guy. I wanted to let him down easy. I also worked in the college gym, so I got to see as many of the dudebro types as anyone should have to deal with in a lifetime.
But I never attributed any of this to some deep imbalance between men and women as a whole. I always viewed it as the actions of a few immature, insecure, inebriated, or mentally imbalanced individuals. Many of my male friends could tell similar stories, and yes, there is a female equivalent of the dudebro. No, of course I wouldn't leave a drink alone at a bar or walk through certain parts of the city alone at night, but neither would most of the guys I know. Common sense for everybody, y'know? And I've always thought that if I could stand anything scientific or technological I could be raking it in like everyone else in Silicon Valley (girls who can, go for it! close that wage gap!).
Like I said, around six months ago I encountered modern feminism and became familiar with phrases like "patriarchy", "mansplaining", and "check your privilege". I couldn't quite get on board with it; having lived with an actual patriarchy that had names and brought their families over for dinner, the one plaguing modern women didn't seem so dire. I wasn't quite satisfied with the way feminism glossed over the fact that men also face many of these issues (I get that that's not the battle you're fighting, but "STFU and go whine about men's right's somewhere else" didn't sit well with me.) I also got the vague feeling that perhaps some of these women were making victims of themselves (catcalling is not the same as rape). But I wasn't anywhere close to writing an article against it until I saw how these women treated each other in the name of feminism.
I've been personally accused of trying to send women back to the dark ages because I really like to cook and enjoy preparing a meal for my boyfriend. I've been told that I'd be wasting my life if I chose to get married and have children. I've heard the hateful things women say to other women who venture a different opinion than theirs. And the things that get said on the internet? Even worse. I know it's not real life, but we should all know by now that the things you say online can have real life consequences. I'm sure there are lots of feminists who aren't like this, but there are many who are. Is feminism in such a tenuous position that you have to lash out at those who disagree with you? Because, to be completely honest, women have been more unkind to me in the name of feminism than any man ever has.
So until women can stop attacking other women, feminism just isn't for me.