A sexist, not to mention nonsensical, ad by the men's rights group A Voice for Men recently posted in a Toronto subway station asks women sarcastically, "Hey Ladies, you are not getting any dates? Can't afford the high condo fees on your own? You are 30 and still not married? How is feminism working for you?"
The object of the ad is presumably to recruit women to the cause of men's rights. While there are women who are active in MRA circles, many others aren't impressed by it. It's not hard to see why a cause made up by men who feel that their male privilege is being threatened would be unpopular with many women — and as it turns out, the ad did speak to a bunch of us, although perhaps not in the way it was intended to. Adrienne Collins, who lives near the station, told CBC News that, shortly after noticing the sticker containing this ad, she found a new poster in its place with a photo of the old one. This one read, "This sticker was posted here recently. Obviously it's drivel. But it made me wonder... how is feminism working for you?"
The question was genuine, with the creator of the new poster leaving markers nearby for others to write in their responses. One even created her own sticker and posted it on the token machine and the front window of the station's entrance. Here it is:
The original A Voice for Men ad also gained online notoriety after Andrew Cameron took a photo and posted it on Instagram, calling it "misogyny disguised as activism" and adding biting commentary like, "How is masculinity working for you?"
While it's true that gender equality — and equality of all types, for that matter — still has a long way to go, the online stir over these contrasting stickers has led more people to speak up about how feminism is, in fact, working for them. Because no matter how far we still have to go, we've also come a long way. Here are some responses from the train station and around the Internet, plus a few of my own:
1. Thanks To Feminism, Women Can Vote
To start with the most obvious point, the latest sticker's writer pointed out that were it not for the first-wave feminist movement, women would not enjoy suffrage. (In addition to being important for the sake of fairness, another plus is that women's suffrage could help keep Donald Trump out of office, given the gender differences in opinion polls.)
2. Feminism Gives Women More Equal Relationships
By making women more than their husbands' property, feminism allows people to instead seek genuine relationships based on connection, not dependence. One person wrote on the communal poster that feminism had improved their marriage. One woman told The Huffington Post in response to the ad, "I own my own home and had other options other than just marriage or a convent. Some man didn't have to settle for me, and I didn't have to settle for them. We get to be with someone who we adore."
3. Feminism Gives Women More Independence
Women can own their own property, open their own bank accounts (though married women couldn't own credit cards until the '70s in the United States!), and have their own jobs to support themselves due to feminism. The creator of the new sticker also mentioned that feminism allows her to drive a car and choose the people she spends her time with.
4. Feminism Has Fought For Equal Healthcare
Though the battle is very much ongoing, feminism has made birth control, abortions, and other reproductive healthcare more accessible. Feminists recognize that the ability to be safe and healthy should not be limited because of one's gender.
5. Feminism Improves Women's Self-Confidence
Feminist organizations like Lean In have encouraged women to speak up and demand what they want in the workplace and other areas of their lives. It has also helped many of us challenge the assumption we subconsciously hold that we are lesser than the men around us.
6. Feminism Has Helped Women Break Into Male-Dominated Professions
More women are able to lead companies, join the military, compete in sports, and participate in many other traditionally male-dominated activities due to the encouragement feminism has given them and the concrete policy changes it has brought about.
7. Feminism Advocates For Sexual Harassment And Assault Victims
We exist within a culture where sexual assault and harassment are often not taken seriously, and feminism is working to change this by combatting myths about sexual assault, instituting changes in how these issues are handled legally, and providing resources for victims.
8. Feminism Challenges Gender Roles
Feminism is not just for women. It's for anyone who doesn't want to conform to their gender's prescribed role. Despite what A Voice for Men might think, it's actually feminism, not men's rights activism, that allows men more freedom.
Images: Jay Morrison/Flickr; acamofficial/Instagram; Giphy (6)