I Don't Need Feminism

I don’t need Feminism
So, what’s this all about eh? It’s been popping up all over Facebook, what does it mean? It’s a bunch of first world ladies holding up cards describing why they don’t need feminism. The awful ironic trouble is that what they’re doing is actually feminist. Take some time to do what I did and read what’s written on each card: ‘I can take responsibility for my actions’, ‘I don’t need feminism because I respect all humans and not just one gender’, ‘I don’t need feminism because I support EQUALITY’. That last one really bit. Feminism IS the support of equality. I think it’s time to address the word.

These ladies pictured in their angry poses holding up their cards appear to be (and I know appearances can be deceptive) intelligent, thoughtful women. They’ve obviously thought about it enough to have their pictures taken for Facebook. Has not one of them troubled themselves to look into it? What they’re saying negatively about feminism are among the very things feminism is not, and what they’re fighting against feminism are the exact things feminism is also fighting against. The very fact that they are speaking out is what feminism is all about, and yet they’re using their voice – that feminism gave them – to speak against it. This baffles me, and also makes me laugh a small sad laugh. ‘Do I look like a victim?’ says one. No, you certainly don’t, but how about you hold your pay slip next to your male colleagues’ and then decide whether or not you are a victim? In these cases, it’s always wise to visit the facts – women are still hugely disproportionate to men in terms of salary for the same job done. I do not look like a victim, until I’m wolf-whistled by a male in a car as I walk.

I could go on, but my argument is not against men, it never has been. My male boss, my male housemate, my male students, my friends, my boyfriend and ex-boyfriends, my father and my step-father are all feminists. I have no argument with men, I have an argument with anti-feminists, same as I have an argument with racists and ageists. Our issue here, fellow feminists both male and female is with education, with the definition of the word, and it’s our job to change that.

Feminism is a bad word isn’t it? Even just typing it here…Feminism. Oooh. It’s not a bad word at all, but I will concede that it is a crap word, an utterly crap word. Its very letters make up the meaning of something that it is not. I do not know a single other word in the English language that juxtaposes itself so completely. It’s the only word scarier than ‘racism’. Feminism has completely fucked itself and therefore it’s up to feminists to sort it out and get things back on track. Suffrage, feminism, racism, homophobia- they sound aggressive, frightening or sensitive and indicate that we must be masters of the concept before we can use them, but they’re completely different and it’s time we all learned their meanings because they are among the most important words of today’s language, and something we MUST be teaching the younger generations.

I’ll make it very simple: suffrage is a very good thing, it was the fight for the vote for women and it was the beginning of our next word, ‘feminism’. Feminism means gender equality, THAT’S ALL. Racism means that you consider a person’s race before you consider their humanity, THAT’S ALL. If you make decisions about a person based on their gender or race, you are racist and sexist. Sexism is the exact opposite of feminism. It’s humanitarian to be a feminist; it is discriminatory to be sexist; same as it’s discriminatory to be racist. The word is crappy. Feminism implies that feminists are man-haters, but the word is akin to suffrage (it sounds awful but it’s actually a good thing), it JUST means that women and men are striving for equality.

Educate yourselves and make sure you know what you’re talking about before you say it, especially if you’re going to write it on a card and have your photo taken for Facebook.

We all need feminism.

(c) Jade Allen 2014