What’s selective feminism? Are we guilty of it?

‘Be a man, fix the light bulb’- This is a phrase that I’m certain some self-confess feminist may on one or more occasions throw out to their male friends or partners.  Admittedly, I have been guilty of it myself although I am a strongly proponent of women’s independence. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a male partner like mine who isn’t afraid to challenge me, and simply retorted, ‘what’s this about ‘being a man’, how would you like it, if I say ‘be a woman, cook my dinner’. It struck me. His comment makes sense.

So, do some of us practice selective feminism? Are our whims merely a call for attention by women? Do women secretly crave a man who complements your dress and buys you dinner? If so, are we being hypocrites? Do we even dare to call ourselves feminists? Perhaps, now more commonly known as the ‘f’ word. Where is the line? Is it a minefield for men, if women practice selective feminism? What is the consensus?

I support equality in the workplace, and breaking glass ceiling. I am also a strong believer in women’s determination and independence in supporting themselves. I have no qualms with professions such as strip dancers nor escorts, although some may deem it as objectification of women and strongly oppose it. However, equality in general? I don’t know… Perhaps, it has something to do with the way each of us are brought up? For me, I come from a family where traditional gender roles are practiced, moreover non-traditional ones are not avoided too. Household chores are carried out by my mother, moreover, she is also a managing director of a successful company. She would constantly say, ‘as a woman, you must know how to cook and take care of your family’. On the other hand, my father is the outwardly stern figure, who does all the DIY around the house. However, he would occasionally go food shopping and make meals. So, for me, domestic duties are second nature, however, I will never be content with being a stay at home mom. Does that make me less of a feminist? If feminist are not defined so, what exactly is it?

So going back to one of my earlier questions about selective feminism being a potential minefield for men. They may feel more than ever, that they cannot understand what goes through a woman’s mind. Obviously, there are some comments that are outright sexist , and no further thought needs to go into challenging them. But there are some, where, they may have a logical point, but somehow, they sound strange. For instance, recently, I spoke to someone who commented- ‘women should be excluded from the front line, they bring down men, when conflict happens, men have to take care of them, it’s dangerous. Men naturally have better stamina, physique, this is undeniable’. I was stunned, there is some kind of truth to it, but at the same time, the way it was expressed, was distasteful, I felt. Perhaps it was something about the neglect in recognising individuality. This is perhaps similar to the infamous popular notion that ‘all men are rapist’ because ‘male has more testosterone and greater sexual appetite, this is undeniable’. I am certain my male friends, wouldn’t enjoy this accusation and assumption of an universal nature.

(For those who are interested: I proceeded to challenge the idea of  ’front line’  with more modern warfare especially in Iraq and Afghanistan and that women are perhaps more than ever suited for this profession if they so wish. Also, I would imagine that policy makers would consider standards which must be met in order to proceed. Obviously, such topics doesn’t go down well around the dinner table. )

Perhaps, fundamentally, if conflicts in conversations were to be avoided, sensitive topics needs to be approached with care.  It is imperative to recognise that the feminist movement has a long history and alot has been fought for and achieved. It has not been an easy road. Gender stereotypes (Persaud and Brugen, 2013) and inequality still exist whether one likes it or not. Moreover, as with other ideologies, individuals are on different points on this spectrum. It is not a black and white scenario. Furthermore, it is an ever changing concept  There are even talk of a 4th wave of feminism (James, 2013) :

I always say, women have brains and uteruses, and are able to use both. (Karen Brady)

I find this quote particularly relevant,

You can flout traditional feminist conventions and still be a feminist. Feminism is about freedom of choice (Georgia James, 2013)

Equally, I feel that sexism towards men is not acceptable. Feminism has long had a bad rap because of anti-men sentiments, some individual feminists do, but not all.

I find this quote rings true to my idea of feminism:

I would also add that we all have choices. Do what you love first. I know many women who broke the glass ceiling but years later, had no children or even a partner in life. So, it’s my opinion that we all have to consider the realities of where we want to be and what we are willing to give up for it. It’s also OK not to be in the boardroom, but have a equal-paying job and live a balanced life. (Mary Buffett, 2013)

I would like to end this entry with a quote derived from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean in’ taken from Buffett (2013). I find that it espouses the idea of equality well:

Feminism never meant that 50% of the jobs of any company should be distributed to women because of their gender; it meant that women should have an equal shot at any positions based on their abilities, regardless of their gender.



Buffett, M. (2013) Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the Rise of Fourth Wave Feminism. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-buffett/lean-in_b_2902325.html.

James, G. (2013) Is this What It Means To be a Modern Feminist. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/11/modern-feminism-definition_n_3582876.html#slide=2686103

Killerman, S. (2012) 5 reasons why so any people believe feminism hates men and why they’re not true. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved on 10th September, 2013 at http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/12/6-reasons-why-so-many-people-believe-feminism-hates-men/

Persaud, R., Brugen, P. (2013) Psychologists find female success is bad for romantic relationships. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/female-success-is-bad-for-romantic-relationships-_b_3878694.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

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