I am a feminist. I have spent years fighting to be treated the same as my male counterparts in business. A career I loved was tainted by the insufferable old boys’ network attitude. I have seen first hand the devastating effect of abusive relationships, belittling attitudes and discriminatory behaviours.
And yet in recent weeks I have noticed women cruelly and mercilessly bullying men. Throwing allegations at them, calling them names and relentlessly hounding them for holding a different point of view. That is not feminism, it’s bullying and it’s not acceptable. I am a female, I am a feminist. I am not a bully. Not in my name.
What is feminism?
Feminism is very simply defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. It is not misandry (man-hating) or female superiority. Feminism does not mean questioning the ethics and honesty of men who disagree with your opinion. It is certainly not finding one man who is vulnerable due to physical disabilities and mental health issues and publicly and relentlessly victimising them.
Feminism is the fight against unfair treatment. It is about empowering women to stick up for themselves. Making a stand when a female is treated unfairly. Raising awareness of the plight of women around the world who are not treated with the respect they deserve. Men can be feminists and many are. It is about bridging the gender pay gap and working towards a time when feminism no longer needs to exist because we are all treated equally.
What is bullying?
Bullying is using strength or influence to harm or intimidate someone who is weaker than you. That strength could be physical or psychological. The strength could be in numbers with a group of people ganging up on an individual. The weakness could equally be physical or psychological – it may be a weakness caused by the upset of an ongoing, relentless stream of abuse that has worn you down.
These days, bullying takes place online as well as in person. It is often referred to as trolling. The perpetrators have no regard for the feelings of their victims. They sit behind the relative anonymity of their keyboards, destroying people’s lives without a second thought. They don’t see the upset they’re causing or the importance of the reputation that is left in tatters.
Why do I care?
I care because I am a feminist. And people who are bullying others in the name of feminism are purporting to behave like this in my name. I am a female, I am a feminist. I am not a bully. Not in my name.
I care because I have to, we all have to. The only way to stop bullies is to remove their position of strength, their power and their ability to victimise and belittle people. There will always be bullying unless we all rebel against it. Unless we all stand up for the victims – regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, shoe size and whether or not they like marmite.
But most of all I care because it destroys lives. Something that starts as a disagreement can have devastating consequences when more and more people jump on the bandwagon. It becomes trolling, it becomes bullying and it has to stop somewhere.
A local mother tragically lost her son to online bullies. Felix was just 17 when he killed himself as a direct result of online bullying. His mum wrote an open letter to the bullies who eroded his self-confidence and self esteem. Felix ended his life because he couldn’t see any way to be happy.
The behaviour I have been seeing online frightens me. The perpetrators are adult females who appear to be incapable of acknowledging that males also have feelings. They are willing to persist with derogatory comments, allegations and defamations with no regard to the damage they cause.
Perhaps these ‘feminists’ regard males as the stronger sex. Perhaps they think that men should maintain a stiff upper lip and be unaffected by emotions. But they are wrong. That is not feminism. We should all be treated equally and that means having due regard to each other’s feelings and vulnerabilities.
According to the Office for National Statistics, suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34. I would be interested to know what percentage of those suicides are related to bullying. The reason I’m expressing my views on this awful tendency to label bullying as feminism is because I am a feminist. I am not a bully. Not in my name.