Feminism is not about unshaven female legs. And not about power over men. And not about the fact that “women must lead and rule”. Feminism is not based on hatred of men. It is based on social, political, and economic gender equality. Feminists need power not over men. Feminists need power over their desires and aspirations, over decisions and lifestyle.
The feminist movement in Ukraine began in the late 19th century. Olena Pchilka, Natalya Kobrynska, Lesya Ukrainka, Olha Kobylyanska – these names are known to many of us. And there were Olena Kysilevska, Olena Sheparovych, Ivanna Blazhkevych, Kostyantyna Malytska, Kharytya Kononenko… There were a lot of women’s clubs, sections, movements, organizations… “The Union of Ukrainian women”, headed by Professor Milena Rudnytska, had 60,000 members and was the largest organization in Europe.
And then the Bolsheviks came to power ‒ that’s all. And it began what the Nazis identified quite simply ‒ Kinder, Kirche, Küche ‒ children, church, kitchen. That is, do not stick your noses out, dear women, in other spheres. Be addicted to men ‒ from the economic to the sexual realms. And feel yourself only machines for the birth of children and house and family care.
And for many years we climbed into the matrix “motherhood is the only thing that a woman should do”. Well, the phrase that “Russian women still give birth to soldiers” just went perfectly in this concept.
I often hear this: “Did you ask women if they need your feminism?! Maybe women like to do housework and take care of children, maybe they like not to go into the male spheres and they want to leave the dirty politics to men!”.
I am sure that girls and women can do exactly the same thing as men. Life is now arranged in such a way that it is not necessary to get a mammoth and demonstrate the physical strength. Yes, we give birth, but this does not mean that our role, purpose, and mission are only about this.
I myself would never refuse motherhood. Although, when you give birth to a child, you cease to be the manager of your own life, you do not control it anymore and do not belong to yourself.
And everything could be perceived perfectly, but during this period you lose the opportunity to earn money, work, have a flexible work schedule ‒ what employer can be interested in you?
And add a bunch of economical affairs ‒ you sit at home, so, why not?
All this is very depressing. It makes your life and you yourself absolutely dependent on a husband. It is good if a husband is conscious and can share your concerns, your fears. And if not?
Therefore, choosing motherhood, I would never give up the rest of my life, where I make decisions about my present and my tomorrow.
The problem of our society is not only that men do not want to sacrifice their leadership positions, to surrender their spheres of influence. The problem is that women are not regarded successful, purely female stories in front of themselves, are often convinced that it is men, who are divine creatures and they know and are able to do something that cannot be inherent to women.
There is nothing to be sacred. There is nothing that women cannot master.
Many women really like to be a woman precisely in the sense of mother, housewife, keeper. They are brought up in such a way. They have not seen enough successful examples in their lives. They are afraid. They do not want the responsibility. They get pleasure from their lifestyle and do not want to change anything.
Civilization has already passed a bunch of different stages of struggle for rights ‒ black people, people with disabilities, Jews, and so on. When the 8-hour working day was utopia.
A year ago, I was in one of the Central Asian countries. This country was once a part of the Soviet Union, traditions play a significant role here, the place of a woman is also quite traditional. During one of the discussions, the male leader stated categorically: “A woman should take care of the family, sit at the hearth and protect it carefully so that her husband and children are comfortable and cosy!”
His monologue was interrupted by a woman ‒ the head of one of the special units of the Prosecutor General’s Office: “Tell me, why didn’t you put your two daughters around the hearth, but sent them to study to London?”
The man had nothing to answer.
Quite a typical situation for us. Men-leaders can talk about “traditional roles in society” as much as they want, but, being able to, they do not really want their daughters to occupy these very traditional roles. “Equality” is so dubious for the wide use by all others, and not by one’s own daughters.
Our society now has a lot of challenges, we need to solve many problems. But this does not mean that it is worth solving something in the first place, but such an “unimportant” topic as the equality of rights is postponed until later. Until better times.
Women are tight within the frames, where they are trying to drive them. Women receive education on a par with men. By the way, there are more women-graduates of Ukrainian universities than men-graduates. And, as a rule, they study better.
But still, at the household level, a sufficiently large part of the population perceives a woman as an attachment to her husband.
I remember one of the airs in which I was invited to take part. They talked about feminism, of course. A man, my opponent argued the same thesis in different ways: “Personally, I am good for women. In my company, there are a lot of women. They are beautiful, smart. I listen to them. We have no problems. They like everything”. “And have you asked them?”, I could not but resist. “What to ask? Everything is clear as it is. They are not tortured or offended”.
A lot of men still believe that if a woman is not beaten, she must already be happy and jump from joy.
And all the talk about equality of rights is precisely because the woman is dissatisfied. Something like “she doesn’t have a husband, that’s her problem”.
There is a steady stereotype in society that women are weaker, more primitive. Therefore, they continue to tell jokes about blondes and joyfully giggle at them.
Although, in fact, for every blonde one can easily find a man-parasite.
There is also another stereotype in the society: a man must be courageous, to provide a family, to die, but not to cry. They bring up boys in this manner. And then, men grow up with atrophied feelings of empathy, with the absence of normal emotions on various internal and external stimuli.
Eradication of stereotypes is a hard work. And, on eradicating them, it is not necessary to forget about personal liberty.
When the flashmob #Янебоюсьсказати (I am not afraid to tell – translator’s note) started in Ukraine, it caused the effect of a bomb. A huge number of girls and women began to tell their story of rape and attempted rape, humiliation and pain. The reaction of men was very eloquent. Not all, but enough in order to draw attention to this. From “she is to blame, she shouldn’t go to drink coffee to the apartment” and to “remembered the events of twenty years ago ‒ as the woman was young”.
And I know that many people while reading this text, think: “I am sick of this feminism! How long can it be? There should be something more relevant and important. Because there is a war. The growth of crime. Economic problems. What the rights of women could be there, and all that your feminism?! How can you say that there are no equal rights when we have 25,000 women in the Armed Forces of Ukraine?!”
Such arguments are always used to keep the topic going not to further develop. The feminist movement scares. They do not understand it. The society does not want to part with the old system of values.
We did not even start talking about feminism in Ukraine. We are just getting to this topic.
Watch our films, including contemporary Ukrainian cinema. Who are the protagonists? And who creates a background, shades of protagonists? And here I do not talk about preserving the images of Cinderellas, which become successful only after they will meet the Princes.
So, feminism is not about hatred and rejection of men. It is that every woman has the same rights as a man.
Just as patriotism is not about the rejection of other nations.
Text by Zoya Kazanzhy