Dear Feminism1

Dear Feminism1,

I have a confession to make. Until very recently (like yesterday!) I would not necessarily have called myself a feminist. I once got particularly riled by a tweeter who claimed that women who didn’t consider themselves to be feminists weren’t real women. I mean seriously WTF! Surely that kind of attitude is anti-feminism?

I have always been very very pro-equality but any activism was often more to do with human rights more generally than women’s rights specifically (although I suppose at high school leading the campaign to get girls to be allowed to wear trousers as part of their school uniform (which shockingly ultimately failed!- this was early nineties) means that women’s rights have also always been important to me).

But I have always always had issues with calling myself a feminist. I think this stems from two things:

a) I really really hate labels and then the stereotypes that come with them. I hate trying to define myself and add labels to myself. I hate being referred to as a wife and mother, I hate being referred to as white, middle class, straight, female, atheist, as to be honest I am probably none of those things, not really, well I mean I am in some ways but I’m also not defined by them, I don’t see them as neat binary boxes to for people to slot into but spectrums for people to align themselves against if they choose. & the same with feminism- I am neither in the feminist box or the non-feminist box- I just probably align myself more to the feminist end of the spectrum based on my personal beliefs and attitudes.

b) I do have issues with some feminists and some feminist issues and how they are tackled and dealt with. I hate the transphobia of some prominent feminists- it disgusts me. In my eyes if you are a woman- you are a woman- regardless of what genitals you were born with. I also have issues with the porn debate and how that is handled (see here for an excellent debate between Sarah Ditum and Gail Dines), and I have issues with so much of the feminist in-fighting- “you can’t be a feminist if you X, Y, or Z” To me that is bullshit. If you want to call yourself a feminist you are one.

So yes I am pretty angsty about calling myself a feminist (oh my- does female angst preclude me from joining the club? ;)), but yesterday in this letter I found myself calling myself “A feminist of sorts“. For the first time ever!

Yikes I think I just came out of the closet as a feminist. I mean I suppose letters like this, this , this, this, this and this means you already knew right? And I suppose the fact I virtually never wear make-up, diet, shave my legs or armpits, wear high heels or a bra at the moment thanks to breastfeeding, and the fact that when I married LordCurd my dad didn’t give me away or make a speech although marriage is a patriachal institution- oops, and I and my best woman made speeches, and the fact I am a Ms. and the fact that LordCurd and I are equal partners in the home well if I am totally honest he does way more than his fair share, then these are all kinda “feministy” things to do right? *Tongue firmly in my naughty “stereotyping” cheek*

So um yeah- I just came out of the feminist closet, and I am writing to you to sort out my membership. I want a badge please, and a bookmark, oooh and one of those feminist pens and jute bags please. Oh and do you do those feminist branded post-its too?

I attach my cheque and await to hear from you once my membership application has been processed.

Many Thanks for fighting for female equality


P.S This letter apparently offended some feminists and for that I am genuinely sorry. I never want to deliberately offend or upset people as that just isn’t my style at all. Happy to discuss further as you will see I already have in comments, but I’m a human with feelings- I get upset at unnecessary hostility. Thanks x

9 responses to “Dear Feminism1

  1. Until very recently I wouldn’t accept there was anything difficult about identifying yourself as a feminist. I really hated hearing women say they weren’t feminists, because to me it felt hugely disrespectful of rights won for them, and also pretty self-serving (essentially telling men “I’m not a feminist so I’m not a threat to you – as long as you’re nice to me I don’t care if you’re a misogynist bastard to everyone else” aka being every single female Tory MP ever). I still feel a lot of this stands – and I believe very strongly in making a statement and claiming the identity that you believe is right, even if it makes other people uncomfortable – but increasingly I worry about, well, the usefulness of saying “I’m a feminist” if it alienates people. I mean, I’d think they’re wrong to feel alienated, but that still doesn’t help things. And sometimes when I do ‘fess up to being a feminist, a voice in my head says “you’re just doing that to be provocative when you know it’ll achieve fuck all”. And then I settle for the uncomfortable compromise of being a feminist with feminists (preaching to the converted) and trying to “do the right thing” everywhere else without actually posing any challenge. It’s all a bit of a minefield. But I do find, when famous women admit to being feminists, it always really cheers me because I don’t think it’s in their interests to do so. Anyhow, I guess everything I’ve written here is an “I’m not an “I’m not a feminist but” feminist, but….”
    from a feminist (I have the Fawcett society T-shirt! but I’m too wussy to wear it …)

    • I can honestly say for me that not calling myself a feminist previously was always with the added caveat- “but I am very pro equality… and then tie myself in knots trying to explain!”. I reject (and still reject) certain aspects of feminism that don’t sit comfortably with me and hence not embracing the title before now. But I can honestly say I have never not called myself one so as not to appear threatening to a man- I’m a total alpha female bossy boots type of woman- whether I am a feminist or not is the least of their worries. Snigger. 😉

  2. The bf started a conversation with “For someone who SAYS they are a feminist…” and I stopped him there and asked him what he thought a feminist was… he tried to wiggle out of answering and I said that I believed a feminist is “Someone who believes a woman is a real human being and therefore deserves full human rights” which sort of made his “…you play an awful lot of Sims,” a bit of a non-sequitur.

    He’d only gone and confused “being a feminist” with “wanting to be masculine”, hadn’t he?

    Well. I am a STRIDENT FEMINIST and I don’t care who knows it!

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