Feminism. It’s a word, a title, an insult, and a political movement.
Ask your family, friends, coworkers, or the random person sitting next to you on the bus what they think of when you say the word “feminism.” Some will say it’s empowering but a lot of other people will say it’s bullshit. Why are so many people opposed to feminism? Why is our society—which is supposed to be liberal and progressive—so resistant to feminism?
Part of the problem is that people think feminism means hating men. But bell hooks, the great feminist theorist (her lowercase name is intentional, making the statement that her ideas are important, not her name), says that feminism is about ending “sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” for everyone. Men will be helped by feminism too. It teaches everyone the tools to think about their own gender roles.
A great example of this is a 2019 documentary called The Feminist on Cellblock Y, which explores how a group of male prison inmates used feminism and bell hooks to overcome the toxic ideas about masculinity that had limited their lives. These inmates realized that they hadn’t always achieved the happiness and success that they were looking for because they were blinded by the social pressure to be “a real man.” At some point, it became more important for them to be “tough” or not to back down than to be vulnerable and honest with their feelings, which created barriers in their personal and romantic relationships.
Why Is Feminism So Threatening?
But because men are affected by sexism in ways that aren’t always obvious, many people don’t think there is a problem. When women talk about their issues, they are often dismissed as just being hysterical, crazy, or ‘PMS’ing. This is called gaslighting: a form of psychological abuse meant to shut people down, skew their perception of reality, and ultimately force them to question the truth. It puts the burden on women to explain themselves and prove that they are suffering.
It seems like many people just want to stick to the status quo and they don’t see a reason to change how they live or think. bell hooks argues that we’re living in a patriarchal world, which means that men are considered better than women; it’s a system where “males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”
If this is the world we live in, it might make people uncomfortable to imagine a totally new approach to gender roles. They’ll have to rethink their identities and how they relate to other people. This work won’t be easy or painless, and that’s one of the reasons that feminism is so threatening. If we work together to eliminate sexism and the concept of male domination, we can create a space for everyone to thrive. These aren’t anti-male ideas: this is about anti-sexism, anti-violence, and anti-objectification.
Today’s Feminism in Canada
In Canada, we have been making small steps towards achieving bell hooks’ anti-sexist society. Canada is particularly working hard to prevent and fight against domestic abusive, which is a major problem in patriarchal societies. Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. In 2019, there were over 107,000 victims of police-reported intimate partner violence in Canada.
A vital step forward in this fight is the creation of Bill C247. This bill recognizes that domestic abuse doesn’t only happen through physical violence but can involve manipulation, withholding money or shelter, and other controlling or coercive behaviours. It understands that this sort of abuse is a criminal act in its own right and can also include causing fear, distress during day-to-day life, threatening the safety of children, and preventing someone from participating in work, education, or social activities.
This issue is just one of the many critical problems that feminism is trying to solve. The fight for feminism is not simply a fight for equal pay, no matter what the patriarchal media might say.
It’s a fight for protection.
It’s a fight for equal opportunity.
It’s a fight for the right to live an entire life without fear, abuse, or objectification.
It’s a fight that we can benefit from if we work together.
 Page 1, Understanding Patriarchy by bell hooks
VictimLink BC: 24/7 Crisis Hotline
Women’s Emergency Shelter: 24- Hour Family Violence Helpline
403.234. SAFE (7233)
Family Violence Helpline: 24/7 Toll-Free
Newfoundland And Labrador:
Domestic Violence Helpline: 24/7 Hotline:
YWCA: Toll-Free Hotline:
Domestic Violence Line: 24/7 Hotline:
Baffin Regional Agvvik Society: 24/7 Hotline in English and Inuktitut
Assaulted Women’s Helpline: Free 24/7 Support
Prince Edward Island:
PEI Family Violence Prevention Services:
SOS Violence Conjugale: 24/7 Toll-Free Crisis Line:
24 Hour Crisis and Abuse Line
VictimLink BC: Crisis Hotline: