Boys' mail #1

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At VraiesMeufs, we don’t want to exclude men from the feminism debate. We rather let you express yourselves about this theme and everything around it, ask us questions and give us your opinions. And we reply to you. You’re a man and you want to send your letter? Send it to vraiesmeufs@gmail.com

 

Hello,

First things first, I would like to ask a question to the readers: what does feminism mean to you? I would like to have a definition of this term as I see a lot of different things and it’s hard to find a proper one.

I’d also like to know how do you experience all these harassments in your everyday life, whether it is in the street, or in a school or professional environment.

I think you are strong because you experience such things… I have a lot of respect for you, women, to see how you go through these ordeals, these bad approaches and these nutcases that force you. Keep fighting about gender equality, we have to stop these prejudices (I.e girls = bitches) and we have to respect you for what you are and not what you have, whether it is reduced to a pair of boobs or an ass,

Thank you.

Alec

 

Hey Alec,

Thank you very much for your letter !

About feminism, there is a “basic” definition. It is a movement standing for improvement and extension of women rights and role in the society. It aims to reach a goal which is about political, economic, cultural, personal, social and juridical equality between women and men.

In a general way, feminism is a way of thinking that tends to re-evaluate attribution of skills, characteristics and especially privileges, depending on the sex. If at first the movement was only about the status of the woman, today, in on my opinion, feminism is also about genders. Feminism concerns everybody: depending on the sex or the gender, our socially built model is going to attribute to each gender some different characteristics, and will wait from people different behaviors. To make it simple, these behaviors can for example be about femininity and virility. Today’s feminism is looking to unbuild this social structure. To me, feminism is about reaching equality and equity starting from the principle that no matter the sex or the gender, each one of us have specific skills, qualities and characteristics to us, the final goal being independence and freedom of us all.

About your second question, about how we experience sexism, I believe that it is proper to each woman. We experience it differently. For me, I feel it mostly in the street, with harassments and bullying. Of course, there is an ordinary sexism in the way people speak, but only time and evolution of habitswill change this, thanks to the freedom of speech, for example. This is why I never hesitate to set my surroundings straight, in a subtle way, if they make remarks that could correspond to sexism. About harassments and assaults in the streets, I am one of the women who ignore. It is not about making it seem like it doesn’t exist, because I know how to recognize sexism and I know when I’m being a victim of it. Being targeted by daily assaults pushes you to make a choice: either to continue without changing habits and why not even defend yourself against speeches and gestures; or do everything to avoid being a victim of it. About street harassment, I believe it is by growing and being confronted to it on a regular basis, that I’m less and less destabilized by talks or gestures that some men can have with regard to me. Each woman reacts to it differently, and we are not all able to defend ourselves and respond, which cannot be reproached to any woman. Although the fear is still here, I try somehow not to let this kind of practices happen, and I hope to gain even more confidence to go against this kind of behaviors. Sometimes a simple expression of irritation, contempt, or a few words to describe the inappropriate characteristic of the situation, can serve as a reaction.

I also feel like talking about what we experience, gestures we see, remarks we hear, like in a huge group therapy, helps us: in a first phase, to recognize that these behaviors are abnormal and to understand that we do have to be a victim of the lack of education of some people; and then in a second phase, to fight and protest together against some practices. I have a hunch that more these acts will be recognized as deviants and as not having their place in our society and our daily life, less they will happen. This is why I think that feminism can help us to reach this egalitarian ideal.

I hope I have answered all your questions!

Do not hesitate to come back anytime you want to share something :)

Louise.

translated by Mathis