I have had trouble identifying or truly understanding where I, my thoughts, my principles fall in line with others. Fundamentally, it is not important to me to have a label. But, I am a human being, I crave social acceptance, and social group. We find others that connect with our ideals. We group to have a connection. We find this connection ever more important, ever more identifying, when we are defensive. Defending against villainy, whatever that may be. The larger the group, the better the defense, more effect. The capabilities become more substantial, more operative; stemming from outreach, facilitation, and access of resources. So yes, big picture, labels are important. The group, the name, what it stands for is important. Unfortunately, the feminist group has taken a nose dive. I believe I can no longer identify with this group, although my attachment to its original identity pulls me back in. This leads to my confusion as to where I lie, in or out?
In or out of the feminist movement. Feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. This definition, I identify with, the pull that I feel in the right direction. This is my group, the group representing milestones of progress; the women of the west. And a surreal empathy for those women who still have an insurmountable feat that women of my generation and nation are lucky enough to have never faced. I believe, but do not assume, that most women can also identify with this. Feminism should always be this clear-cut, the doctrine should run deep. Yet, it has strayed so far away. This wave of feminism, if it can even be called that, is on the border of complete collapse. A group of women that have become militant, disconnected and hateful hypocrites. And sadly that leaves many unable to identify with this group. Prominent individuals have shed their label as feminists altogether due to that loss of connection. The kind of people that would be expected to represent a movement of progress, powerful speakers, critical thinkers, intellectuals and philosophers.
I am very apprehensive to identify as a feminist for the same reasons. In past articles, I have stated that “I am not a feminist” or I am a “partial-feminist”, whatever the hell that means. I am so concerned with being identified as an alt-left radical man-hater that I cannot simply say something as reasonable as “I believe in equality for women”. What a taboo that’s become. I stand for social and political equality, I stand for advancement of women in government and corporate America. And I disown, disavow those who have made this movement a joke. A crybaby fest of minuscule irrelevancies, an infantilization of women.
The proclamation of the feminist movement is equality regardless of sex. It is not about the villainization of men. Men can most certainly believe in equality and to make them feel as if they should apologize for all of man-kinds wrong doings is outrageous. Hating men only further divides the gap in which feminism is ultimately trying to close. Confusing right?
Feminism is not about breaking gender norms that some women themselves, socially accept. Demonizing the color pink and femininity, and what that may mean from one woman to the next, is not of relevance. In the west it is about making women aware of the choices they make that may place them in an inferior role.
Feminism is not about rising to higher level of superiority, it is about opportunity. That superiority itself should have no place within the sexes.
It is not about denying the biological differences between men and women, because men and women are not the same. We are not the same biologically. What we are, is humans, and all humans deserve the same freedoms, the same political rights, the same opportunities within education and employment, the same social rights. Feminism is not about getting offended and outraged at the drop of a word or action. Emotions, and the unity and connection that stem from those emotions is what makes the movement strong. It is difficult to construct thoughtful and meaningful dialogue when feelings of anger or frustration cloud the mind. And the anger is understandable, unavoidable even. I have been treated by men in ways that leaves me filled with rage, and a desire to lash out. But our thoughts, interjections, stances, and defenses need to be well constructed, well informed, and always backed by the feminist doctrine. Derive everything you say and do toward, for, or against the movement with its very premise.
The movement needs to be put in check and experience a bit of needed enlightenment. To be reminded of its inherent doctrine in which most women find an underlying pursuit; the social and political rights of women as human beings, being no different to the male sex. I read a quote many years ago in Veiled Courage, a book by Cheryl Benard about the women’s rights movement in Afghanistan. Within this enthralling and awakening book there is a quote from an unknown source that hit me like a bag of rocks, “if I rise up, if you rise up, everyone will rise up.” I have this quote tattooed on my inner wrist because it struck me right to my core, took hold of me, inspired me. And as I look down at it in this moment, it is as if reading it for the first time all over again. A fresh yet constant reminder. This is what we need. We need unity. We need intellects and critical thinkers, to give structure and well-rounded meaning to the movement, one that all women can identify with. And we need to be reminded of our great fortunes of progress in the west and the serious need for enlightenment elsewhere.
Do you find yourself emotionally responding to this article? Are you angered, frustrated, irritated even? Stop, ask yourself why. What have I said that has triggered this emotional response. Identify a sentence, phrase, word, that I used that has led to you feeling this way. Analyze it. Question it. Pick it apart and put it back together. Offer a rebuttal of substance. It is okay to feel these emotions, it is not okay to just spew anger out of nonsensical uneducated thought. I say this in earnest, and feel free to leave comments.
Below I have included some definitions of feminism that have changed and sculpted the movement throughout its history in the west as well as some biological and social science terminology. Throughout my studies I find these terms used quite regularly and I believe it is always important to be informed to develop a well-rounded critically thoughtful attitude on or toward a topic.
Liberal feminism entrusts the rights of women to be fully enforced through political reform. Liberals place value in individual pursuits, for women to make their personal choices that will result in better equality.
Radical feminism focuses on the patriarchal society’s enforcement of gender roles to keep women oppressed. The use of politics is futile, as it is a patriarchally dominated arena as well. Therefore, radical feminists target cultural change, focusing on breaking gender norms that result in male superiority and female inferiority. RadFem’s actively protest pornography and prostitution.
Marxist feminism is focused on the oppression of women through capitalist agendas.
Socialist feminism combines the theories of radical and Marxist feminism, the resulting oppression of women stems from both capitalist control and the patriarchal society enforcing gender roles to keep women subservient in political and economic standing.
Libertarian feminism (branch of liberal feminism) believes rather than pursuing political reform, it is simpler to exist in the world as is, and women should emphasize their skills and abilities to better compete and adapt.
Cultural feminism emphasizes the revalidation of the “female essence”, that is the attributes that make the woman a woman, i.e. our capacity to reproduce. Women should identify with these female characteristics as strengths rather than weaknesses.
Rape culture is the social normalization or trivialization of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse, and now I believe even sexualization of women falls under this umbrella.
Sex is the biological identification of genitalia at birth, a penis is male and a vagina is female. Biologically, there is only two sexes.
Gender is a term from the social sciences which is an assignment of masculinity or femininity to an infant based on the presentation of either a penis or vagina.
Gender roles is a term from the social sciences which define a set of behaviors considered normal (norms), acceptable, and appropriate for the designated gender to follow.
4 Comments Add yours
Great post Ali. As someone who heavily identifies with the label ‘feminist’, I can appreciate your critical opinion on the movement. It’s refreshing to see somebody be truly honest on their feelings on feminism, too many people go along with it out of fear of not being socially accepted/looking like a nazi.
I’m glad that you are now comfortable enough to identify it!
It’s sad that so many radical liberals have tainted the movement and made it appear to be something it was never intended to be.
I look forward to reading your posts on the topic in the future, well done!
Thank you Susan, I appreciate the feedback.
Wow I now realize that I am a combination of different feminist ideologies I am a Socialist feminist with Libertarian and cultural bent as well as Radfem ideals
I always thought I was one of the only feminists who enjoyed ” gender marketed” products and hate the concept of Feminists as “man haters” I am a die- hard romantic and I grew up with two brothers. Most of my friends are men and I hate the notion that men ” can’t be feminists” some of the most Feminist people I know ie people who believe in true gender equality were born with a Y chromosome.
I’m glad you’re able to see that. It is sad that “man hating” has become synonymous with feminism. Why hate the group that you fight so hard to be equal with? It makes no sense.