Feminism has endured a lot of stigmatism in recent years, being misunderstood for an ideology about the superiority of women, instead of the true premise of gender equality. Despite women anachronistically experiencing more discrimination than men, it is clear that archaic gender stereotypes are the root cause of gender inequality, not just female disadvantage. By seeing all genders as the same species, free from architypes and traditional roles, true equality will be achievable.
Rose McGowan, acclaimed actress and author, whipped feminists into a frenzy after her shocking and somewhat uncalled for response to a transgender woman criticising McGowan’s lack of support for transgender victims of sexual assault. Asking her “what have you done for women?” and saying “I don’t come from your planet” unveiled a side of McGowan that was far from the compassionate feminist campaigner. This factionalism within the community of women exacerbates the fragility of the feminist movement and inhibits commendable progress with the absence of cohesion and support from all genders. Both considering themselves feminists, Rose McGowan and the lady who criticised her actions, exemplify the issues with the feminist movement and how a universal agenda has been lost amongst internal conflicts. The same applies to men; everybody has to be on board for gender equality for it to be achieved, especially due to the male dominance in Parliament.
In terms of male equality, concepts like paternity leave and child custody disadvantage men severely. 88% of men who apply to court to have contact with their children are granted visitation rights, with most of these scenarios being an every other weekend arrangement. Although we like to think our justice system has evolved with society and has overcome gender stereotyping, it is clear that women are still viewed as the rightful parent, and has advantages when it comes to custody. Surely by allowing men the ability to take on roles that are traditionally for the women, this breaks gender stereotyping on all levels, and allows women to break free from the Victorian ‘Angel in the home’ label that still lingers in modern day society. Implemented from above, these laws and conventions are a significant setback in the advancement of feminism, and will continue to be until enough influence is exerted from below.
In light of this, the stigma attached to sexual assault allegations also inhibits the advancement of feminist ideals. I recently heard a true story of a man being pressured into having sex with a woman, after repeatedly declining her advancements. Although the man was not raped, the uncomfortable, trapped feeling he described was clearly the same as any female’s endurance of sexual assault. Where this differs comes from his following comment: “imagine if it was the other way round”. The dismissal of male victims of sexual misconduct emphasises the gender dichotomy in modern society, inadvertently disallowing the progression of all genders as equal. It is factually clear that women are more frequently the victims of sexual assault, with 82% of all juvenile victims and 90% of adult rape victims being female, however it is important not to ignore the minorities in light of true gender equality.
Therefore, it is clear the true way forward for feminism is a cohesive vision with all genders, in order to tackle gender inequality from all angles. This method abstains from factionalism within feminist ideals and breaks down stereotypes from the male perspective also. Where this gets difficult, is when feminists focus on solely the female perspective instead of seeing gender inequality through all lenses, making a feminist vision more powerful and achievable. For example, ending the gender pay gap will only make women equal to their male counterparts; no one is hurt and everyone propers under gender equality.