Today, while you’re celebrating International Women’s Day by watching Daniel Craig in drag, it seems worthwhile to point out that it’s also Feminist Coming Out Day – the day when we are all encouraged to embrace our secret, shamed opinion that human beings are deserving of equal social treatment and legal rights. I know this is difficult, so let me hold your hand and guide you through this confusing, daunting process.
See, there’s a weird thing that happens when it comes to women and feminism. It turns out there are a lot of women out there who are afraid to label themselves as feminists. I don’t personally care all that much if women don’t want to have anything to do with feminism. I don’t agree, but, hey, whatever. You do what you want. That’s not the battle I’m here to fight. But I keep coming across instances where women say, “I’m not a feminist, but … [insert something so feminist it would make Gloria Steinem applaud]” thing, or try to clarify that they are okay with feminist principles but aren’t “Feminazis or anything like that.” This, my friends, needs to stop.
Now, I understand the word “feminism” has accrued various associations over the years, as well as a extremity of political stances that may or may not accurately reflect the woman in question. But I don’t think that’s any reason to run away scared. What are we scared of? That other people will jump to the wrong conclusions about who we are and what we think and what we’re capable of because we use a certain word to describe ourselves? That we’ll get sucked into a cult of cartoonish hairy-legged anarchists, because those are the only kind of people who are allowed to be feminists?
Fuck, as they say, that. People making wrong assumptions about you because they can’t be bothered with finding out the truth can happen any day, and it probably does happen every day, on a thousand different counts. And you know what? It’s their problem, not yours.
If there’s really a problem here, it’s with women who don’t know the depth, diversity and modern movements associated with feminism today. There’s a lot there, and, with the internet, it’s all at your fingertips. Ignorance is not an excuse. Not to mention it’s all there because of feminists who weren’t willing to accept the status quo – yes, even the status quo on their own side. Feminism in our society is a growing, evolving body of thought, and it needs strong, brave thinkers to keep it fresh and moving forwards.
Feminism means you think it’s bullshit that people have to follow separate and particular sets of rules and limits based on what sexual organs they were born with. That’s it. It means both women and men should feel free to live, work and explore as best suits who they are as individuals and not what other people tell them they should simply because they are women or men. It means understanding that the reality of our society is not, nor has been, this way and that we need to work to make it different and better for everyone.
Take the word back and stand up for it. And let’s not try to smother it with another label (like humanism) that’s more comfortable and less “problematic.” Dismissing individual experiences and identities because it’s easier to deal with that way is not really a step forward. We should be able to be equal without having to made to be all the same. Don’t try to erase the differences that make us proud to be unique individuals. Just help us work to erase the unfair consequences that result from trying to live honestly as those individuals.
So, woman up (yes, even if you’re a man, because all this is the same stuff that prevents you from being recognized as feminists and benefiting from feminism yourselves, and we are by no means excluding transpeople here), own your feminism and don’t let anyone else put you, or anyone else, down for doing so. Because if you can’t do that, then, I guess maybe you’re right – you’re not a feminist.
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Well Cara, I for one, say Rock the F*** on! Feminazi was a word made up by Rush Limbaugh, so that shit's out anyway. With legislators, mainly male, trying to make decisions about our actual physical bodies and what we can and cannot do with and about them, being on the forefront of our politics in 2011, it feels like I have gone back into a terrible time warp.
You are right. There are no excuses with all of the information available to us at our fingertips.
Not knowing what you are missing until it is gone is an awful way to find out what you had.
Great post...first off..I consider myself a feminist. Why some feel the f word is hard to say/swallow is beyond me? Why are some women afraid or ashamed to be a woman? We're the stronger gender, in many, many ways. Could I live in a man free world? Absolutely....women have been persecuted, tortured, degraded, demeaned, murdered, executed, confined to indoors (puritan life), belittled, beheaded, berated, rated, controlled, abused, loathed and many other adjectives, and not just by men. Religions hate us, they're afraid of us, cause they know who's got the goods (power), we're a threat to them (remember..most religions are founded and controlled by men).
I love being a woman...and I believe that women should do and/or use any means they feel the want to...to get what they want or need. Men do..right? That's one of the many reasons I loathe religion...they have "deities"...and deities typically have gender specific parts.....and that just snowballs into hate.
Araina, that was such an excellent piece to put up. It should have seemed so dated, and sadly it wasn't, but it was really powerful. Thank you.
This is old; I don't care. My generation seems to have forgotten what "feminism" is about. Not man-hate, not the crushing of family or the loss of what it means to "be a woman". Just the continued push for completely equal rights for all women, everywhere, always. For choice not dictated by what others find attractive, but what we ourselves want.
Feminism is a dirty word to my generation, and that needs to change. Now. There is nothing wrong with talking about women's issues and advocating for that equal treatment.
I am from the era of Germaine Greer, one of my heroes. I am a feminist - people forget that in the 1940's if a woman was working and then married, she had to leave work.
In my lifetime, I am 64, if an unmarried woman became pregnant, she was shunted off to the country, and her baby removed from her, never to be seen again. Things have changed, and the thirtyish and younger have no idea how much things have changed. They just haven't changed enough. Women getting raped on university campuses. What the... that is the thing, a bloke will rape or bonk anything that moves, if given the chance. That is what the young girls of today don't know. If they have sex, the bloke does not care what her name is, or how she feels - she is just another notch in his belt.
BUT since the rise of islam into western countries, I now support beaty contests, skirts that barely cover their bum, I think they are stupid, but that is better than anyone being controlled by men.
The old saying "I don't agree with what they do, but I will fight to the death for them to have the right to do it."
There are also Mormons indoctrinating women and are truly evil, then there is a group called the Christian Patriarchal Movement, the name explains itself - every modern religion known to man, including some sects in Buddhism hate women, so there is a long way to go.
The video is excellent and true, but women are watching this stuff, and buying this stuff - women are their own worst enemy - they are now competing with each other, which is totally against what nature intended. It is the sexually suggestive ads that I hate. They are for the men - women may know what the intention is, but will pose for this soft porn for the money.
I have bought up three children - and treated them all equally - my son had tea parties with his male friend, my daughter played baseball etc. They all reverted to whatever their gender was in their teenage years, so being gender neutral made no difference in the end.
It's only inadequate men who treat women with disdain - a male who is sure of himself treats women with respect, and will also fight for equal rights.