If you’re a first time visitor, consider yourself fairly warned: I’m a feminist. A big one.
The thing with feminism is that, as a word, it’s got a definition and that is the starting point. What you do with it, within that definition, is up to you. It’s personal.
For me, feminism is very much about equality and fighting for women to have the same rights, recognition and opportunities that men already have. As an extension of that, I’m also against other forms of oppression, like racism and homophobia. For me, feminism isn’t about hating or oppressing men. It’s not about female supremacy, or anything like that. I don’t see how it can be since it goes against the definition of the word.
Many men and many women agree with the definition of the word feminism but don’t consider themselves feminists because they associate the word with something negative- an image of bra-burning man-haters. That’s what teenage me thought. It took me a while to learn otherwise, I might add. I know one friend who referenced Germaine Greer and yeah, I get that she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But she doesn’t speak for every feminist on the planet, either.
So I took to social media to ask the question:
“Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why/Why not? (disclaimer- blog “research”) Also- it’s fine if you don’t- I’m just interested in the reasons people do or don’t like the word.”
And then this huge and excellent conversation took place. Not everyone agreed but that’s okay. Because for feminism to succeed, the first thing you need is a conversation about what it is. It’s probably not a great surprise to anyone who has frequented my little corner of the internet before to learn that many of my friends are feminists. A few voiced their dissent which I’m also fine with because the last thing I want to do is force any label on someone- I’d rather they came to it for themselves. With all the contributors to the discussion, I’m hoping there were also some who read along. Maybe a seed or two was planted? Who knows. with that in mind, I wanted to share some of it here, too.
- Yes. Because women do not currently have equal access to the personal, political and financial power that their male counterparts enjoy, and I think this both sucks and blows.
- Yes. Having a vagina doesn’t make me a lesser person or less entitled to the same benefits those with a penis enjoy.
- Yes, because I’m not an arsehole.
- Yes because as the quote goes, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”.
- Yes, because all of the above.
- The men I work with would call those who enjoy the benefits others afford them but speak negatively about the attempts as ‘white anting’.
- Yes, because I quite like the idea of women having equal rights and opportunities to men. That just seems like a good thing to me…
- Yes. And I think that the majority of women (and men) who strongly object to the notion do not have a clear understanding of the definition of feminism. Objecting to the concept that I am as valuable and worthy as my brother and husband seems silly to me.
- No, because misandry is real. I’m an egalitarian *chews on some vomit*
- Yup. Because feminism is purely the belief that all people (regardless of gender) should enjoy the same political, social and economic freedoms. Where inequalities lie, the impact of them and how we obtain gender equality is where there is a huge difference of opinion!
- Yes because I am a human being too. And because I’m sick and tired of being discriminated against and told to bow down to gender stereotypes.
- Abso-fucking-lutely. But ya may have guessed that. Why? Because desmatling and rejecting the patriarchal paradigm fixes most problems with the world today. And it’s not about hating men. I love men, when they’re not assholes. Men would benefit from the downfall of the patriarchy as much as women would. It would free us all.
- Absolutely, feminism is about loving men enough to allow them to be people without being seen as, as less than if they don’t want to comply with societal gender roles. Fortunately for me, I married a feminist.
- No. I’m an equalist.
I guess you can be a feminist and an equalist but, I just believe I’m no different to any other human. Vagina or not.
Hope that makes sense.
- Lots of people who say they are against the term “feminist” tend to get their notions about what feminism means not just from people who aren’t feminists, but from people or sources who are actively anti-feminist or from sensationalist media who are looking to create click-bait shit-storms. When questioned, they know little about what feminism actually means and what it stands for but a lot about all the negative stereotypes, accusations of misandry and misconceptions associated with the term.
- There’s quite a few men who would tow that line but not actually be willing to completely reject the privilege and entitlement the patriarchy affords them. First and foremost, freeing women from oppression is the aim of feminism. The fact it would also help men is just a given in my opinion.
- Oh and for me, I have considered myself a feminist since I was 16, when I read “The Beauty Myth” for the first time and discovered riot grrrl punk and fanzines. Those things spoke to me in a language I’d never heard before. They articulated a lot of things I had felt and experienced as a female, even at such a young age. The rage, the sense of injustice, the nagging sense that we were “lesser” in the eyes of society. I knew all that shit already on an intuitive level, but to hear it said – and in the case of Bikini Kill, screamed – was fucking revolutionary to me. Those women were brave. They said “fuck you” to the status quo and they had the courage to speak their truth despite encountering all kinds of aggression and hostility. I’m sure it’s not a popular opinion but I think that a lot of women don’t identify with the term feminist because they are afraid of the backlash, even if it’s on a subconscious level. All the women I admire have been feminists. I’d be dishonouring their struggles if I didn’t embrace that term for myself.
- (In response to this link that was shared) That is a magnificent manifesto. They need to print this shit on bar coasters or something.
- Yes, but the debate has become about the validity of the label rather than the issues which derails the conversation.
- (NB- we were indeed discussing the label here- but that’s okay, it’s a part of the conversation, in my opinion)
- I was always a bit of an eye-roller when the topic of feminism was bought up believing the adage that my Mother kept telling me of “just get on with it”. Then I took a unit of Woman’s Studies whilst at Uni. The text was Women Herself by Robyn Rowland. It was the one and only text book I looked forward to reading throughout all my uni studies. One particular periodical article I read that really resonated with me was about why primary school girls will often play in or around the girls’ toilets and argued that this was because most other places at school (eg oval, playgrounds) were dominated by ‘boy’ activities and sports but the girls’ toilets could only ever be a ‘girl’ space. I also remembered not be allowed to wear shorts to primary school because it wasn’t considered ‘lady-like’ (1970/80s). I particularly latched on to the idea of ‘man = norm, woman = other’. I remember arguing with a fellow male student that I was not going to write the phrase ‘hip-pocket nerve’ because it assumed the reader was male. I absolutely fell in love with eco-feminism (a stream of feminism that argues there is a there is a culture-nature hierarchy in society (culture being what we should aspire to and nature being simple, uncontrollable etc) and patriarchy puts men are closer to ‘culture’ whilst women are closer to ‘nature’.)
- No. I think partly because unlike generations before I’ve never felt I needed to fight for my rights. But I think for me, too many women have taken feminism to mean women’s rights as opposed to equal rights. I also don’t believe there can ever be true equality between the sexes. Our fundamental physiological and psychological differences make it unlikely. ‘Equal’ means different things to different people and unless there is a shared meaning, how do you achieve it? (Apologies for the slight rambling. I could offend many if I went into everything I think about this topic at length!)I know there is a lot of history behind the feminist movement, which has progressively led to the rights we enjoy today. That said, if someone asked me to label myself – I would confidently say i believe in equality. That lends itself to women’s equal rights, LGBT rights Etc. I wouldn’t use the term feminist because I feel it segregates us (women) from them (men). When it should focus on equal rights for all humans. That could just be misguided information / lack of education on the feminist philosophy perhaps… But my beliefs are inherently the same.
- Yes because it’s the 21st century and we live in a so called developed nation FFS. No one should be treated like a second class citizen because of their genitalia.
- Yes, I consider myself a feminist, because we still live in an unequal society, where men are paid more than women, and women are under-represented both in government and CEO roles across the board. I don’t agree at all with the commenters here who have stated that there is no need for feminism in this generation, where there was in the past. Tony Abbott is the fecking Minister for Women. Do I need to go further? We live in a global village too, I am not a feminist only for Australian women.
- Yes, because i see structural injustice towards women in particular in the world. I also think that feminism at best can be liberating for both men and women as rigid gender roles also prevent men from being fully human and fully themselves.
All that said i’m not sure that all my fellow feminists would consider me one because of my faith background and views on abortion which some feminists regard as a litmus test for authentic feminism.
- I’m definitely a feminist but I often don’t declare myself as such. I find people stop listening to the actual issues the minute you say the F word.
- All the more reason to say it in my opinion. Sing it loud and proud. FEMINIST!
- This disagreement here sounds a lot like what I have seen amongst atheists, where some people think Dawkins is the worst thing to happen to atheism, while others say they wouldn’t be atheists without him and he has had the biggest impact, etc. I think there is a place for all of the different approaches. Some people are more effectively reached by the anger and the direct confrontational approach, while other people just need to have someone talk to them softly, and let them slowly come around to understanding in their own time…A movement needs all sorts to eventually be successful.
- The idea of being a feminist, and pretending not to be a feminist, by calling feminism something else, seems really exhausting to me. And as soon as feminism is called something else then there will be anti-whateveritscallednow movements and whateveritscallnow will be accused of being man haters etc. Who only want privilege not equality blah blah blah. So I’m a feminist because I am.
So there you have it. This is a sample of the 100+ comments made. We started a conversation… I hope it continues.
#IBOT with EssentiallyJess