Feminism exists because gender inequities exist. Conflating it with Humanism—either out of ignorance, or in a deliberate attempt to undermine feminism—both misunderstands Humanism as meaning “everyone-ism” rather than being a distinct nontheistic worldview, and neatly removes the gender-specific nature of these inequities from the conversation when in fact they should be the focal point.
Here’s why we need feminism, not just everyone-ism: One of the authors of this piece is much more likely to be paid significantly less for doing the same work as the other. One of us is much more likely to receive specific, gendered online harassment for writing the same words. One of us is much more likely to be the victim of violence—85 percent of domestic violence victims in the U.S. are women, and that violence is usually inflicted by men. Globally, women remain hugely underrepresented in positions of power and influence—just 7 out of 150 elected Heads of State in the world are women, and on average only 17 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women. And these statistics are an incomplete introduction to the problem: a woman’s race, gender expression, and sexual orientation can put her at even greater risk of discrimination and violence.
That’s our current reality. That’s why feminism, despite the movement’s imperfections, is still so important. It’s not just appropriate to acknowledge that these gendered inequities are less frequently experienced by men and more frequently perpetuated by them—it’s essential to recognize that the playing field isn’t level. Of course, that recognition doesn’t preclude men from becoming valuable allies in the fight against sexism. But it does require men to recognize that they are privileged by virtue of their perceived gender identity.
Honestly, the whole humanist movement has shot itself in the foot so many times it’s walking on nubs. Dividing people, making enemies where one should make allies. It’s not about being an apologist to succeed, it’s about not being an asshole.
Feminism is important because women are fundamentally…no, irrefutably more important than beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts, intangibles. People are alive, real. Women and girls represent the most persecuted portion of the population. They are abused, under appreciated, treated like property, sold and trafficked, executed, underpaid, second guessed, ridiculed, etc.
No one is born with belief, but everyday a great portion of the planet is born female.