Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why I'm Not a Feminist

Copyright John Oxton. Used under a Creative Commons License

By Caitlin Seida

There are plenty of underrepresented subcultures and groups in our nation - the so-called "Melting Pot". But when it comes to gender, we as women are not under-represented. For every one female, there's only 0.97 males in the United States (Check the CIA World Factbook if you're one who needs hard facts. I'm not sure what counts as 0.97 of a guy, but whatever).

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not against things that feminists fight for. Equal pay for equal work, for example, would be pretty damn nice. The right to not be excluded from things based solely on what kind of genitalia I have. But I am against feminism. I'm not sure if there's a word for what I want - equalism? Humanism? Common-fucking-sense?

I don't want to see a women's lib effort to raise women above men. I don't like it when militant feminists put down men as the enemy or chastise men for identifying with their cause. It irritates me to no end and makes me want to go on an all out, Kill Bill-esque murder spree. If we're going to achieve equality for men and women (and transmen, transwomen, GQ and everything in between on the spectrum of gender identity) we all need to WORK TOGETHER and be respectful of EACH OTHER'S rights and needs and problems.

Joss Whedon, one of the premier Sci-Fi world creators, just ranted about this very topic and I couldn't agree with him more. It's worth checking out over at Jezebel.

I'm not an "antifeminist" - I don't care for traditional cultural values or the "sanctity of marriage". I can't stand traditional gender roles. And I'm grateful to the women who came before me who made it possible for me to go out and have lots of casual sex, wear pants, use contraceptives without shame and work outside the home. I don't believe in biological gender norms - girls don't automatically take to pink and skirts and childrearing and I don't think boys automatically take to blue and toy trucks and working outside the home.

But the word "feminist" grates on me - I don't want to fight for just women's equality. I don't want to fight for just women's rights. I want to fight for everyone to have a fair shot. And by labeling myself a feminist, I can't in good conscience do that. John wants to be a stay at home dad? I'll put my ass on the line and fight for his right to get family leave to do so. Mary wants to work full time at the welding factory and earn the same as her male coworkers? More power to her, I'll take up her cause! But I won't limit my efforts to just one gender - as the word "feminist" implies.

Call me a horrible woman, go ahead. I can take it. But when it comes to gender - it should be a non-issue. We need to focus on everyone, not just slightly-more-than-one-half of the population.


What are your thoughts? Are you a feminist? Do you like the label? Is it just a matter of semantics? Talk to us!

Caitlin Seida has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites including Livestrong.com, TypeF.com, Salon.com, Dogster.com and The Daily Puppy. A Jill-of-All-Trades, she splits her workday as a writer, humane society advocate and on-call vet tech. What little free time she has goes into pinup modeling, advocating for self-acceptance, knitting and trying to maintain her haunted house (really!). You can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and of course here on I Feel Delicious!



4 comments:

  1. (as I said on facebook)

    I'm trying to find a way to saying things without sounding offensive or defensive....And please, keep in mind that English is absolutely NOT my frist language, it's French. So I may write strange stuff that could look offensive but it's not.

    I'm a feminist. I know some "rotten apples " (or just good ol' plain arsehole) are well mediatised, because it's easier to make fun of the extremists than listen to the "real", "serious" feminists out there. The common feminist, who fights for women, men, trans and un-gendered people, is under-represented in the medias. It's one fucking huge bias.
    (but I'll admit that, living in Europe, with access to a lot of informations in "non-traditional medias" (ie twitter), I may be privilegied, I don't know how it is in the USA)

    Don't feel ashamed because you're a feminist. Raise awareness, not in dissing the term, but in showing people that "real" feminism is supportive of equality between people, whatever the sex, the gender, the sexual orientation, the religion or the color of their skins. We need everyone to fight against the mysogynia and the inequality.

    I feel like dissing the name "feminist" is - how to say that ? - creating rifts and not helping in the unity we should try to create and maintain....Strenght through Unity is Belgium's motto after all ;) We can't fight efficiently if we bicker about a word. Let's just call ourselves feminist and shit on the head of the assholes that gave us a bad name.

    I'll make a fucking bad analogy but, if I said "I don't call myself homosexual because some of them are too extreme" or "I don't call myself american/belgian/french/lunar/intergalactic because some of them are completely batshit crazy" it's stupid and, in the worst, completely awful and iditioc. Why doing it with feminism ?
    (I'm sorry, it's a very bad analogy, please forgive me, but that's the best way I found to translate it in English)

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  2. I feel you. I just recently started identifying as a feminist, after reading some of the major works of American feminism and realizing that much of my aversion comes from right-wing propaganda, not disagreement with the principals of feminism. That said, I am struggling with the same thing. The patriarchy, positivism, modernism, whatever the fuck you want to call it screws almost everyone, male or female. The narrowness of our society's version of feminine is pretty much matched by the narrowness of what we consider masculine. I know feminists who argue that feminist theory and feminist perspectives are interested in equality for everyone, regardless of gender. But the title itself seems to exclude anyone with a penis. It's a conundrum and I don't have the answer. Just make sure you know what you're objecting to, because we've been fed a lot of horseshit about what feminism means and doesn't mean. Anyone born in the 70s or later grew up in an era that reacted strongly against the cultural revolution of the 60s, and there is a lot of misinformation.

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  3. I strongly disagree with you. I think this article is a misrepresentation of what feminism means to a lot of people who identify as such (myself included!). I would love for you to read this article, which addresses every issue you raise here (and which I hope will provide you with another perspective!): http://mysexprofessor.com/sex-in-the-news/gender-issues/why-to-keep-using-the-word-feminism/

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  4. I am absolutely a feminist, have always identified as one, and was probably born one. If not, I certainly became one back in the toddler years when people tried to tell me there was no way I could drive a truck if I didn't have a penis, and the passion for activism reignited the day my ex-husband tried to re-enact the ax scene from 'The Shining' and sent me and my 18-month-old daughter running out into thigh-deep snow and -20ºC temperatures. We worked our way free of that situation and encountered blaming and shaming, outright slander, scheming, kidnap attempts and hostility along the way that makes the ridicule you faced because of your cosplay photo look pretty tame by comparison.

    I don't buy this argument that feminists think women should be elevated above men. I think that's mostly a straw man put out by sexists who want to maintain the current sexist status quo, and echoed and perpetuated by people who don't want to feel guilty for not getting involved. For me, this fight, this advocacy, this identification has always been about equal rights and autonomy over my physical body, my emotions and my mind. I've always believed these rights to be essential for anyone to live for the greater good of all humanity, but because I am a woman, I focus on working toward equal rights for women, because it affects me and my daughter most.

    If you want to know why the 'ist' of feminist is included along with all the other human rights which I support, it's because I've really noticed the dearth of men in key moments and places along the struggle for the equality of women. Always too few. A few speeches by a popular entertainer does not make up for even one campus that allows men to celebrate rape with impunity. A few strong female characters (which is just good marketing strategy if an entertainer wants to attract a female audience) does not make up for 1 in 4 real life women experiencing sexual assault (and if you want to dispute me on statistics, let's have that fight because I know why the study that sexists use to argue is junk), or for women continuing to earn two-thirds the amount of their male colleagues, or for women to be left with the lion's share of work in the home as well as being a breadwinner. Shall we go on?

    No, I don't hate men as such, although I certainly hate rapists who overwhelmingly tend to be men. So what? I tend not to have much respect for people who don't support feminism, because I think they are either willfully ignorant or deeply misinformed — not a great basis for forming relationships. If they oppose feminism and throw up obstacles against feminism, that diminished respect dissolves into no respect whatsoever. And I don't care. I know that sexists want everything to remain weighted in favour of their advantage and privilege, but I'm going to do what I need to do to protect my daughter and her autonomy.

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