Feminist: How I learned to stop worrying and love the label.

March 3, 2009

I used to be one of those women. You know the ones. I believed very strongly in equal rights but didn’t want to call myself a feminist. When pressed to talk (or think) about it I had the same reasons other people have:

-I didn’t just believe in equal rights for women, I believed in equal rights for all humans.
-I didn’t want to be lumped in with the radical feminists, the man haters, or the ‘all hetero sex is rape’ crowd.

None of those things has changed, so what happened?

I got older and I learned a few things.

I learned that in politics and social activism one of the most effective weapons your opponants can use against you is to twist your chosen title around and make it something bad.

I learned that most groups, if not all, have their radical element and that it is often that radical fringe that gets the most attention. They are often the most passionate and vehment and they frequently make the best news stories.

And I learned that quite a lot of modern feminists felt the way I did about equality being a human right and not just a female right. It would seem that many of us take the view that we cannot achieve equality for women without achieving equality for everybody. We are striving for and end to discrimination on the basis of gender, race, gender status, sexual orientation, etc. It’s an all or nothing kind of a thing.

I came to realize that I am a feminist and that the only way to remove the perceived tarnish from the label is to accept it and strive to be heard above the voices of the opposition and the voices of the radical fringe.

First and foremost, I believe that the government has an obligation to uphold and protect the rights of all citizens equally. Full stop.

I believe that there is a fundamental right to equality under the law. Women shouldn’t have to fight for equal pay and equal opportunity.  If opposite gendered couples can marry, same gendered couples should be able to marry too. It should not be legal, as it is in Montana, for gay people to be fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes, simply because they are gay. I believe that trans people deserve our respect and support and should not be hindered in changing their legal gender when they’re going through the transition. I believe that intersex people should be treated with respect and allowed to make their own choices, rather than being medically interfered with in infancy or childhood.

These are all reasons that I’m a feminist. I am glad that I’ve learned to accept and embrace the label. I want to add my voice to the feminists who feel similarly. The sex positive feminists. The feminists who embrace human equality and human rights.

We’re out there, and there are lots of us. Not all of us have embraced the label yet, but hopefully that will change.


6 Responses to “Feminist: How I learned to stop worrying and love the label.”

  1. jhwygirl Says:

    Yes. Thank you. Great post.

    Some of the be

  2. jhwygirl Says:

    …some of the best feminists I know are men.

    (my computer has a mind of its own sometimes…)

    • 42ndwavefeminist Says:

      I know what you mean about your computer & I’m glad you’re still reading.

      I couldn’t agree more. I love Feminist men & I think they are vitally important to feminism as a whole. I feel very grateful to know/have known as many really awesome feminist men as I do/have.

      More posts soonish!

  3. Chelsea Says:

    I was very hurt the other day when my boyfriend poked fun at me for identifying myself as a feminist. It is frustrating how difficult it is to break the stereotype of what a feminist is. I really like your statement about how we cannot achhieve equality for women without achieving equality for everybody. I believe a true feminist is not narrow minded enough to think equality for women it the top priority, as we are not the only group of people who are discrminated against.
    I really hope in the future that we can raise the consciousness of people worldwide into knowing that those few radical feminists are not representative or who feminists are as a whole. No one should ever have to feel ashamed to identify themselves as a feminist to other people. I am still learning how to accept and embrace the label, but I am only 22 and I expect this will come with time. Along with it I hope my confidence in my ability to justify my beliefs and not be afraid to stand up for something will come too, even if it is looked down upon by others.
    I don’t know any feminist men. But I would love to meet some!

  4. carrie Says:

    I’m always refreshed when i see open honest speech about personal experiences from women re: feminism. i can’t remember when i chose to say t’hell with it, i’m a feminist, but it’s true. accept that femininism is the word. a rose is still a rose. the main point is that i’ve had more luck educating boyfriends/men about what it means..just that i’m a person. above all else. they’re all so scared. they think there’s a set of rules. they think they have to tiptoe around us. a lot of them don’t feel they’ll ever measure up to standards that we feminists hold, which i am surprised at..anyway, when it comes from honesty and it’s personal, we have more power, no matter what our experience. thanks for the blog.

  5. kcullen Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I felt the same way that you did, I used to feel feminism was only wanting equal rights for women, and bashing on men. After I started taking a women’s studies class I realized that’s not what it is to be a feminist at all, it is equality among everyone. I think if more people (not just women) would take time to become educated on this topic, more people would feel great about embracing the label of a feminist.

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