Why I Call Equality Between Genders Feminism


I've never really talked about feminism on this blog before, and it's a contentious issue for whatever reason, so forgive me for being a bit nervous.

Yesterday, I logged on to Twitter to find that the #1 trending UK hashtag was #IAmAFeminist, thanks to this beautiful Tumblr post by Holly Bourne (who is one of my absolute role models, but I've already talked a lot on this blog about her and her books, so I'll get back to the point). To see an issue I'm passionate about be highlighted so publicly was really exciting for me, so I wrote a tweet of my own. This is it:

I didn't really have room for any explanation in 140 tiny characters, but just to clarify I didn't mean that all people who don't identify as feminists are sexists. I meant that everyone who isn't a sexist - and thank goodness that's an awful lot of people - fit my definition of feminist, even if they didn't label themselves as such.

And then, pretty soon after (no more than a couple of minutes after, actually, so somebody must have been paying attention) I got a reply from someone who thought I was a sexist for using the word feminism because it has a "fem" in it.

I kind of get that. I've struggled with whether or not to use it in the past: whenever I have debates with internet peeps or other kids at school or even my parents about the whole issue, whether or not the term feminism is inherently sexist is one of the first things I ever discuss. When I first started calling myself a feminist, I honestly hadn't given it much thought - people online were using that word to describe beliefs I agreed with and wanted to fight for, so I used it too. And then, the people around me started questioning if it was the right word to use.

So I thought. For a long time.

"Think before you speak. Read before you think." ~ Fran Lebowitz

And after looking at other feminists' explanations of why they think it's a valid name for the movement, I came up with my own. This is my opinion, and I'm going to explain it as logically as I possibly can to make it easy to understand, but it's also a topic I have very strong beliefs about, so sometimes irrationality can seep in. Soz.

In my point of view, the "fem" in feminism describes the nature of the sexism it's fighting against. Males and females (and people who don't identify as either, while we're at it) experience sexism for displaying female attributes: for girls and women, it's usually simply their lack of Y chromosome, but for boys and men, it's behaviour that society considers somehow 'girly'.

The "fem" in feminism describes how the movement fights for those attributes, be them physical behavioural or anything else, to be acceptable. To be equal. To have so little differentiation between them and the norm that they're not female attributes, just attributes.

"Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it." ~ George Carlin

The "fem" in feminism does want both sexes to be equal, for both sexes to be listened to. It wants an end to toxic masculinity and the preconceived notion that guys can't be hurt by girls as much as it wants an end to the gender pay gap and catcalling.

And that's why #IAmAFeminist, not just a believer in egalitarianism or gender rights or simple equality. I'm not saying that people who choose those labels for themselves should be any less respected for their beliefs and actions, I'm justifying why that term forms part of my personal identity.

(FYI, if you're looking for a movement that believes women are better than men, you're in the wrong place. That's misandry, not feminism.)

So, I just want to end this blog post explaining why I wrote it. I believe that people have the basic right to choose whatever label they want for them and their personal beliefs. I also believe that this whole debate about whether gender equality should be called feminism is kind of pointless. Shouldn't we be arguing about how to tackle the issues this movement wants to tackle instead of arguing about what it's called?

"We're never, ever, ever going to be able to fly as high unless we're both in support of each other." ~ Emma Watson

If the person who wrote me that tweet is reading this (and I will have sent them a link) I'm not going to kick up a fuss if you still disagree with me. But I hope that you can see it's pointless to keep telling off feminists for a word that isn't meant to hurt anybody, and that maybe you can start having conversations with them about how to make society better for everyone.

If not, never mind. I hope I could help someone else see instead.

***
In the comments: Okay, this section of the post is going to be a bit longer than normal . . .

You're just as welcome to leave a comment if you disagree with me than if you agree with me. I love discussion and I really want to understand, if not agree with, your point of view. But I'd really appreciate it if, no matter which side of the conversation you're on, we keep things as peaceful as we can. (It's an emotional topic, I know, but trying will go a long way) I don't want any personal attacks, on me or anyone else, because they aren't helping us in what I assume - and hope - is our common goal: to make this world equal for everyone.

I'm also going to say that, in general, I always reply to comments on this blog, and I will do my absolute best to. But if, for whatever reason, your comment hits me in a way that means I can't react with a clear head, I reserve the right not to react at all. I don't want to make things any more heated.
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2 comments:

  1. Yes! This is an awesome summary of your beliefs and explanation of them. They are quite similar to the reasons I identify proudly as a feminist. Though your explanation is much more eloquent than my usual elevator speech

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    1. Aww, I'm glad to hear that! As for being eloquent ... I'm really, really bad at actually expressing opinions like that in person, so I pretty much wrote this instead. I don't think people will accept an emailed URL in the middle of a heated debate though - so maybe you're better off with your elevator speech!

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