So… Am I a Feminist?
June 17, 2012
By: Elena Bella
I’ve been confusing myself recently.
The word “feminist” is often spat like a dirty word as discussed in Catherine Hilldrup’s excellent article (click here). I’ve always been confused as to what it means to call oneself a feminist; popular media and celebrity culture have hugely stigmatised the feminist movement and made out that all feminists are militant, hairy-legged man haters.
I believe that women deserve to paid the same as men for doing the same jobs. I believe that women should have the right to vote in all countries, access to sexual health clinics and the right to wear what they like without being labelled. Does this make me a feminist or just a decent, self-respecting human being?
I don’t hate men (quite the opposite, in fact), I’m not offended when white van men beep their horns at me, in fact I’m often flattered. Does that make me a man-pleasing traitor to my gender? I don’t think so.
I recently watched a video entitled “I am a woman against Feminism” (click here to watch). In this video, youtube user “sk8rconster” declares that the isn’t a feminist because feminists talk about how “men are dirty” and that feminists surely “disown their sons because they aren’t girls”. She also “helpfully” reminds us that we can’t live without men.
This kind of makes me want to tear my hair out. I don’t entirely blame “sk8rconster” for her complete and utter lack of understanding of the feminist movement. I don’t! If I did, it would be extremely hypocritical, because I don’t fully understand every aspect of it myself. I think that calling her “stupid” like many youtube commenters and being rude to her is counter intuitive. I can only assume that she takes her impression of feminists and feminism from fiction and television talk shows. It’s the same view that people take of, for example, Islam; the media tends to portray Islam in an extreme, misguided and sometimes downright malicious way, leading to the general public having a very skewed viewpoint. In both cases, ignorance seems to have begotten ignorance in a very vicious cycle.
Having done my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably am a Feminist. I have even posted a video response to “sk8rconster”‘s somewhat misguided video (click here to view). Calling myself a Feminist doesn’t mean that I’m going to burn my bra, stop shaving or take to chaining myself to railings*. When it comes to my own identity and how I view myself as a person, it doesn’t change me at all. It’s simply applying a label to feelings that I have always had: Women should be equal to men.
It’s a shame, though, that if I were to say to anyone that I was a Feminist, it would undoubtedly be met with a large measure of eye-rolling, and it would shape the way people view me and how much merit they lend to my opinions. It’s a sad indictment of society that wanting equality is somehow nefarious and evil. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my politics, nor am I. Nor should I have to hide my feelings. I guess what I’m saying is that not all all women are feminists. Not all feminists are women. But any decent human being should expect, if not demand, equality between the sexes, and not treated like a second class citizen because of it.
*Just to clarify: To those who do burn their bras, decide against shaving or go down the militant path, I salute you and respect that decision. I wish I had the bravery to take such a strong standpoint, but I need my boobs supported and my legs bald to feel comfortable in my own skin. That’s my personal choice. Yours is just as valid.