Most of us feminists have seen the quotes, or paragraphs. Many of us may have used it on friends, family, maybe on our blogs. It’s stuff like this:
If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. Period.
Now, I am a feminist. But I can understand why some people would not define themselves as one. There are, of course, the nobs who don’t believe in men and women being equal, and those who just simply aren’t educated enough on what feminism actually is. There are other types also which need to be educated and really wittled down to come to a feminist friendly perspective.
However, these are not the ones I’m speaking of. These are the ones who have real reasons not to identify as a feminist.
Some of the early feminists were incredibly prejudiced. The first wave of feminism consisted of middle class white women, some who believed that they needed the right to vote in order to out-vote Black people. They were cissexist, ableist, and racist, among other horrible ‘ist’s. Margaret Sanger, champion of birth control, favoured eugenics, fighting for forced sterilisation of those who she deemed were ‘unfit’ (i.e. those with disabilities) to reproduce. Even just recently there was a situation where, on an event page from London Feminist Network, some self-proclaimed feminists were claiming that transwomen could not be feminists, were not ‘real women’ and are part of the problem. WOC still have to fight in order to get their ‘specialty’ concerns heard.
These are huge problems which must be addressed. They are valid reasons to reject a feminist identity in favour of a more inclusive one. Many feminists (I’d like to think I’m included in this) do try to fight against the prejudices in feminism, and those feminists should be supported. Until prejudice in feminism is eradicated, however, the movement will always have conscientious objectors. And I sympathise with them.
- Minou, C.L. (2010) Julie Bindel’s dangerous transphobia
- PBS (2001) Eugenics and Birth Control
- smith, s.e. (2011) Push(back) at the Intersections: How About Some -isms with Your Feminism?
- smith, s.e. (2011) I’m Not a Feminist, and I Wish People Would Stop Trying to Convince Me Otherwise