Who is Afraid of Feminism?

I was never a fan of feminism. The word itself left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Why? Because feminism evoked images of enraged women who couldn't get anything done without yelling in the streets. I never saw it in Sri Lanka, but I saw Western women behaving badly - on TV. Those feminists frightened me. We didn't have much growing up, but I always knew I was the designer of my life and worked hard to get what I wanted. I didn't wait for a man to give me things or protect me. I had no idea I was supposed to be the "weaker sex." In those younger years, feminism was for weak white women who had money and education but were too lazy to get to work. Those of us who were third-world citizens and much lower down the socioeconomic ladder, worked. There was no other choice.

I decided to write this article because I felt we needed much more awareness about what is meant by 'feminism'. Feminists are sometimes despised for being "loud" and angry, but many victories are won not through polite discourse. The article outlines a historical overview, players in the current debate, such as, Rebecca Solnit, Mary Harrington, Sarah E. HIll, Melissa Broder and Anna-Marie Crowhurst and concludes with insights into the local culture and how women in Sri Lanka are unsuspecting victims of discrimination, simply because they are women.

The full article is available only in the printed magazine. Psychology Quarterly is 100% supported by member subscriptions. Please support our work by subscribing to a yearly or quarterly plan. The counseling and psychology lessons and related articles will also be exclusively available in print-form.

Although some western feminist writers have mentioned that men have written negatively about women in ancient books, I find that women were also positively portrayed in many works of old. For example, the Bible records Paul saying that women (not men) should stay quiet in church but Jesus seems to have had no such problems with talking women. In fact, He preferred talking women to cooking and cleaning women. The Bible has a hodgepodge of takes on women. You find heroines such as Ruth, Esther, and Deborah and also the original baddie Eve and evil-incarnates like Jezebel, Athaliah, Herodias, and Gomer. Homer’s Iliad portrays women as objects of desire or spoils of war but Andromache and Hecuba are heroines indeed. In Odyssey, women are depicted as temptresses (the Sirens) and also in Odyssey, Penelope and Nausicaa are portrayed as loyal, clever, and kind. Virgil adds to the onslaught by portraying women as an obstacle to a man trying to fulfill his destiny, but he also writes about the brave warrior queen, Camilla.
So, on the surface, it appears that men's problems with women begin later much. Mary Wollstonecraft, best known for her work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1972), (she was also the mom of Mary Shelley who wrote “Frankenstein”), thought philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote not so nicely about women. Rousseau had written in his work, Emile: “If woman is made to please and to be subjugated to man, she ought to make herself pleasing to him rather than to provoke him; her particular strength lies in her charms; by their means she should compel him to discover his own strength and put it to use.” But before Emile, Rousseau extolled the virtues of women. He writes On Women, Love and Family, “If women had had as great a share as we do in the handling of business, and in the governments of Empires, perhaps they would have pushed Heroism and greatness of courage farther and would have distinguished themselves in greater number.” Rousseau makes it clear that if women were given the same opportunities as men to shape society, they could very well change the world.[1] However, if one were to read a bit more in-depth, it would be fair to say that although Rousseau had commendable views on equality, he did not believe women deserved that equality. Now, we must not get too distracted by Rousseau and forget to mention that Mary Wollstonecraft was possibly the first woman to criticize the fact that women were raised and socialized to be dependents.

- Anonymous
[1] Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Rousseau's Take on Women and Education." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, thoughtco.com/rousseau-on-women-and-education-3528799.


I have observed that feminism has made a noticeable change in social behavior in the West. For example, when looking for a partner, the male sense of chivalry has declined. It seems that my peers have down-sized their own moral values, like honor, kindness, and courage. And I have seen many females reject simple acts of kindness, such as a man opening the door for them, or letting them go first; much related to the popular idea of ‘independent woman’. Although it is understandable that many women don’t want to be seen as incapable or dependent, rejecting such simple acts of kindness discourages positive and good manners and healthy chivalry (not to be confused with toxic masculinity)

-Ivan Abihaggle, Psychology student, Spain.


Share this post