Feminism | Posted by Eden F on 01/7/2013

Why I’m Not A “Feminist”

Pat Robertson's views on feminism

…because I’m actually a Feminist!. What’s the difference? I use the term “Feminist” to refer to “Feminist” a stereotypical media character who exists to destroy what I call “Feminist!s” (the real deal) by portraying herself an extremist asexual witch.

I’m not the type of person who shies away from feminism for fear of being thought of us a “Feminist.” I call myself a Feminist! with much pride. I believe that gender equality is a fact, not a right, and I believe it mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and religiously. There is not one bone in my body that would beg to differ. I believe in feminism as a movement, and the incredible leaps and bounds our fore-mothers and fore-fathers have made to give women equal treatment. Yet, something happened to me that really made me consider the way society sees feminism, and how we Feminist!s really have our work cut out for us.

I was at a group dinner with a bunch of my friends one night. The conversation was normal—from school, to people, to events, etc. Somehow, the conversation shifted to feminism—this time not just the “Eden the Neurotic She-Devil” conversation, but a real, substantive one—and the adult leader of my group, whom I respect very much, commented: “Sure, I believe men and women are equal, I’m just not a ‘feminist’.” I’m sure you understand why this was confusing—after all, its sometimes difficult to see the difference between someone talking about a Feminist! and a “Feminist”; equality of genders being the definition for the former, I had much reason to be confused.

This conversation stuck with me; it’s not like I have been spared the I-believe-in-equality-but-there’s-no-way-in-hell-I’m-calling-myself-a-feminist shtick. Over the years, much to my distress, feminism has been demonized and looked at as a misandronistic cult—far from the reality.

My all-time favorite politically incorrect and completely obscene quote about feminism is by Pat Robertson: “[Feminists] leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” Somehow, this is what “feminist”s are—no matter what Feminist!s are actually saying. The saddest part is that no matter how many times I say I’m not a man hater (I actually rather like men) or that I don’t want women to dominate the world, people simply can’t disconnect the term from the tropes.

Egalitarianism. Women’s Rights. Equality. Women’s Liberation. Suffrage. What do these words mean? Feminist!. You see, feminism is just as much masculinism—it’s a movement devoted to ensuring that the equality of both genders is protected and sustained in society. Right now, and for the past long, long time, it’s been women that have been treated or considered less than equal; the feminist movement was established to right patriarchy’s wrongs. If, however, it would be the other way around, I have no doubt in my mind that feminists, or masculinists, as they would come to call themselves, would picket for men’s equality as well. Some of these terms have magical affects—still stating that you’re about sustaining equality throughout the genders—but with no black magic connotations attached.

So the way to redefine feminism is simply to define it! We must find the right words, the rights pictures, and the right expressions so that feminism is not lost in its own title. We must articulate that its not gynocentric—it’s a movement for men and women alike; we must push that it’s not an idea that you can take or leave, its an inherent fact of nature, about rights that are being taken away. We don’t need to start over, we don’t need to coin a new word—we need to express feminism in a way will get the message across: we are equal, we are fighting for rights that are long overdue, and enough is enough with this misogynistic bull that we take everyday for calling ourselves what we are.

I would never say that feminism is not something we should affiliate with; I certainly live my life by the movement. Its done amazing things that I am thankful for every single day—things that make blogs like this able to exist. Of course there is nothing shameful about being a feminist; it’s being a “feminist [nasty emphasis by those who don't know what they're talking about added]” that’s a problem. Having people ignore everything you have to say because they heard the word feminism and assumed you’re that “feminist” witch—which leaves your logical, fool-proof, equality argument down-trodden, along with your dignity. Somehow, we must both stick to our Feminist! roots and present ourselves in a way that society will hear without immediately associating to the “She’s A Witch” scene in Monty Python. Somehow society must accept that, as the glorious Gloria Steinem said, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.” We must represent ourselves LOUDLY and clearly, for all our sakes.

I am proud to be a Feminist!, even if it means I’ll have to face ignorance, I am proud to try to find the right terminology to make our movement heard loud and clear, and I am proud to slap anyone who wants to call me a communist witch for fighting for my God-given equality.

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  • Logoskaieros @ at 12:37 pm, January 7th, 2013

    “Of course there is nothing shameful about being a feminist; it’s being a “feminist [nasty emphasis by those who don't know what they're talking about added]” that’s a problem.”

    In terms of people who think feminism = hating men, etc etc, yes.

    But feminism’s own political legacy is not spot-free.

    Feminism has structurally marginalized women of color, transwomen, disabled women, and even lesbians still. And this wasn’t just an issue for 2nd wave– even today it’s still a struggle to not let feminism revolve primarily around middle-class white women’s issues. (E.g. when people say that access to abortion is the #1 women’s reproductive health issue, this is ignoring lots of class, race, and sexuality stuff.)

    So it’s worth keeping in mind that while we should fight to not let our political & social identity as feminists be defined by ignorant people, it is neither a perfect paragon of social justice that we should be unconditionally proud of. Some people do have legitimate reasons for not identifying as feminists (and identifying as womanists or something else.)

    It’s doubly frustrating when people make this contra-feminism argument (e.g. conservative white women say that feminism is only concerned with some women’s issues) and they are coming from a place of bad faith. However, the fact that their sincerity and understanding is in question shouldn’t prevent us from taking the charge itself seriously. A broken clock and all that.
    *Also, those conservative white women are sometimes picking up on a strain of women-bashing that even feminists can slip into sometimes. (For example, insinuating that being a housewife or not wanting a career is stupid and vapid.)

  • SPH @ at 6:27 am, January 23rd, 2013

    Firstly, some feminists do hate men. This is a fact, you can’t deny it.
    I’m sure you are aware of some of the things that people like Andrea Dworkin, Susan Brownmiller, Valerie Sloanas, Catherine MacKinnon, Marilyn French, Robin Morgan etc. have said about men. These women are feminists, they hate and wish to harm men, and try to encourage others to hate and harm men also. Their writings and teachings prove this.

    If you call yourself a feminist people (like myself) are going to, quite reasonably, associate you with the minsandrists within the wider feminist movement, since you have made no effort to call yourself anything different in order to distance yourself from the hate mongers and bigots.

    Feminism like all movements, should be judged by its most radical extremes, that is how we asses how dangerous a movement is. It is of little interest to me whether there were more moderate Nazis in the Third Reich, I am going to judge that movement by its most extreme and fanatical members and the same goes for feminism.

    Misandry Is not the only reason I don’t like, and don’t trust anyone who calls themselves a feminist.

    It is also because they lie about the objectives of the movement. They claim the feminist movement is about equality. Having debated many feminists in person and online I have never met a single one who wanted true equality between the sexes. What they have all wanted is equality when it suits women’s purposes and preferential treatment at any time when equality might put them at any sort of disadvantage. You must understand how frustrating it is for anyone outside of feminism to witness such blatantly manipulative, greedy, hypocritical behaviour.

    We know that feminism cannot be about equality because its very name privileges one sex over the other. If you don’t hate men, and do want equality you must stop calling yourself a feminist.
    The semantics of these things DO matter, they effect how we understand a group or movement and how we feel about it and its members.
    Everytime I hear the words “feminism” or “patriarchy” I feel instantly blamed and hated for shit I’ve never done.

    Given that feminism was always a problematic name for a gender equality movement, you having nothing to lose from giving up the label, except the numerous negative connotations it holds.
    It is for this reason that I have never labelled myself a masculist or MRA or anything. I don’t want to fall into the trap feminists have.
    I am a human and a humanist.

  • RM @ at 1:18 pm, February 6th, 2013

    @SPH

    Very well said! I am a woman who believes in equal rights but would never refer to myself as a feminist because of the “radical feminists” who are very critical of anyone who enjoys “traditional” roles in a marriage (I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom while my hubby “brings home the bacon”). That plays absolutely no part in how “equal” our roles are. No one “controls” the other. It is a partnership of strengths and weaknesses that makes for a wonderfully balanced relationship. We both contribute to the marriage and it has worked out well for us (24 years later and still very happy).

    I believe “feminist” is an antiquated term from previous generations that is frequently misused by women. The true definition is as the writer indicated, but as with many terms, the meaning has changed in society and because of that I am not a feminist and do not wish to be associated with feminism.

    I love the term “humanist”, because I sincerely believe every single person deserves equality regardless of sex, religion, race, etc. Not any one group being “above” the other… all equal in our right to find happiness.

  • Eve @ at 8:20 am, March 7th, 2013

    Here’s the thing, feminism is actually a response to misogyny in society. There’s the famous quote in Germaine Greer’s seminal book, ‘The Female Eunuch:’

     ’Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.’ So, women had to become emotionally and financially independent. Hence, second wave feminism happened, so that women could have access to education and career opportunities, in order to become financially independent.

  • Isabel B @ at 5:33 pm, March 12th, 2013

    See, no. Asexuality is not a bad thing, nor is it a stereotype of feminism. It’s actually a bit offensive that you portrayed it as the former.

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