The definition of feminism, according to Webster’s dictionary:
“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”
For a long time, there has been a phenomenon that I’ve noticed amongst people that I’m friends with. I’ve spoken about how, when I was a budding teenager, I would sit in my room on my laptop and browse Tumblr for different human rights issues that I could analyse. Feminism was one that I was so certain of from the beginning. This post is not going to list the reasons that you should be a feminist. Again there are loads of sources where one can get educated on that particular topic. I suggest that everyone read a few posts by the blog “Consider The Tea Cosy.” which is very informative in a way that’s far from patronising.
Before writing this post, I asked a very, very good friend of mine whether she called herself a feminist. Her immediate answer was a defensive “no.” When she saw my face drop she immediately began to tell me that she believed in all the ideals of feminism, however, she did not wish to label herself as a feminist. This friend of mine is someone that I hugely admire. She’s a strong, powerful woman who has a sharp tongue and a sharp mind. I was so disappointed that she would say such a thing. I got quite annoyed when I told her as much and we proceeded to get increasingly mad at one another before drawing a line under it and changing the topic. But, at the end, I found myself even more motivated to write this chapter.
I asked my Mam the same question once on a car journey and she told me that she didn’t believe in feminism, but rather that everyone should be equal. I can forgive her for having such an opinion though as she witnessed the 80’s where I understand that feminism was very different from what it is today. While at a dinner with a fellow blogger friend I asked her this question of mine. I could immediately see from her expression that she was about to launch into a long speech and I immediately cut her off saying “yes or no?” She hesitated for a moment before answering “yes.” Although maybe she did so to keep the peace, because she knew that I would slay her with my gaze if she answered negatively.
Before you all assume that I’m an unreasonable bully whose every opinion needs to be agreed with in order for me to function, please listen to my reasoning. My frustration is not at the fact that my friends aren’t feminists, I know that they’re feminists. In fact, I probably would not be friends with them if they weren’t. I’m sorry but anyone who doesn’t believe in the above definition is not really someone that I want to associate with (although I think that the above definition should incorporate genders that are not merely men and women, but that’s another issue).
I can not understand this refusal to label yourself as a feminist and the only reasoning that I can figure from behind people’s reservation is that certain boys and certain girls will think that you’re an asshole. But this is what we need to change. We need to change this all too common perception that feminists are a group of man-hating, unreasonable assholes shouting too loud and getting in everybody’s faces. Because these days, the majority of feminists are not like this and its most likely men who are publicising this belief. I don’t hate men. I love men and I want them to have equality. I want a man to be able to cry, or wear a skirt, or tell a girl he loves them in front of his friends, or kiss his male best friend for the fun of it, without being labelled gay or whatever the kids are calling it these days.
The idea of feminism threatens the male population because, believe it or not, a lot of men are not interested in disabling the patriarchy, as oppressive as it is. A lot of men are happy that women are less likely to hold positions of power or have the ability to tell them what to do. A lot of men are comfortable just dealing with other men when it comes to business and don’t wish to change the system. That’s not to say that all men are this way. I don’t believe that for a second. I love a man who is comfortable around a powerful woman (although I hate the fact that this occurrence is so rare that I have to love it). I love a man who openly calls himself a feminist without worrying about the stigma that comes along with the term. It’s just that I don’t encounter them often, unfortunately.
I honestly think that you “reluctants” are coming from a good place. I too wish that the world didn’t need feminism. I too wish that we had everything figured out and that we didn’t need people to openly declare that they believe that “men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” I too wish that we didn’t have people who felt so threatened by this possibility, that they turned feminism into an embarrassing, pathetic ideal. But things are not that simple. The fact is that the world is screaming out for more and more reasonable people to declare themselves feminists. The world needs us to set the example of feminism as a desirable, sensible thing, rather than a hateful, spiteful group of people.
Please call yourself a feminist. Not for me, not even for yourself but for the endless people out there still being suppressed because of their sex or gender. For the people out there who need people to actively involve themselves in this cause. For the ones who still have false beliefs about feminism.
Watch my journey with feminism below:
Read my experience at a men’s rights event here.