Dear Feminism2

Dear Feminism2,

Well Dear Feminism1 caused an unexpected bit of controversy.  (See here for info).  I don’t want to hash it up with the people involved  again as well all agreed to draw a line under it and move on, but what was interesting was my thought processes following the exchange so I thought it would be worthwhile to ponder them further with you.

So I previously identified there were two main reasons I previously didn’t really identify as a feminist:

a) a hatred of labelling my identity in any way shape or form.

b) I recognise that feminism is an incredibly diverse creature and there isn’t really an “official party line” other than the quest  for equality, however there are certain stances of some feminists that I don’t agree with and by not agreeing 100% with certain aspects of the movement it creates worry about aligning myself with the movement when I wasn’t always going to be singing from the same hymm sheet on certain issues.  For someone who already has identity issues- aligning self with a movement that itself has identity issues is a quite a tricky thing! NARGH!

In my case it genuinely wasn’t a tactic to not appear as a threat to men as @GlossWitch suggested some women might do.  Those that know me in RL probably know me as a bit of an “alpha femaley” type- seriously whether I label myself as a feminist or not is probably the least of some poor bloke’s worries. 😉

But if I am 100% honest there is a third reason I didn’t previously want to be identified as a feminist, and it was because I probably didn’t want to be lumped in with the stereotype of one of *those* feminists. To be quite honest I’m a bit scared to admit this (thanks to previous reactions and it is effectively admitting I AM A VERY SHALLOW PERSON AND I WANT EVERYONE TO LIKE ME!) so please before you recoil in horror and start attacking me again please let me explain this further and where my thought process is now.

By *those* feminists, I guess I meant the awful stereotype of the really angry “man hating” ones (I KNOW THIS IS A STEREOTYPE), who prefer to shout down opposition rather than reason with it.  Unfortunately I have encountered a few who conform to this stereotype. Sadly the few hostile tweets I got after that didn’t help me with rejection of this stereotype, until  I chatted to a passionate feminist @StewieGriffinsMom (who had seen the exchange) who kindly took the time to explain that often she was sensitive to things that mocked feminism (which admittedly my original post did slightly by making fun of feminist stereotypes that I already adhere too- and for that I am sorry to have caused offence- in my head I was making fun of myself not feminism really),  because she often got the “ANGRY MANHATING FEMINIST STEREOTYPE” thrown back in her face, and therefore she could be quite defensive about feminism and didn’t like it being attacked. This I completely understand, and then hostile reactions to my letter makes sense (ie. the reaction is actually more understandable but hostility unkind but the unfortunate side effect is that it reinforces a particular stereotype) and although the hostility to my orginal letter was unpleasant, I now recognise where it comes from and ultimately we were able to discuss things a bit more rationally which was very helpful to my own progression in my feministy thinking.

This got me thinking- this defensiveness and hostility to perceived criticism of the movement can then become  a viscous circle because if all these passionate women are having to spend so much of their energy on defending their positions, this manages to perpetuate the very stereotype we should all be trying to reject. If there was less anger, defensiveness and hostility within the feminist movement then maybe more people like me would be happier about embracing their feminist identities? Or equally  I need to get over myself and my over thinking identity issues 😉 but I recognise that this does stem out of a passion and desire for change and without a fire in your belly, sometimes change just won’t happen, I mean bloody hell the suffragettes went to incredible awesome amazing lengths to secure rights we now take for granted. So I’m not sure what could be done for the best other than to point out working with people is often more effective than working against people, but then maybe I am speaking from a cocoon of privilege and actually personally  I really  need to be getting more angry.  I need to ponder this further I think.

On reflection, & being very honest, when I encountered the hostility from the self identified feminists, my very first thought was ” ARGH! I don’t want to be one then!”, the way they interacted with me made me feel belittled and stupid about something I had previously been excited to realise and admit to myself.  I felt I clearly didn’t “know”enough about the cause to join the club properly! This is simply ridiculous- I absolutely don’t need a doctorate in gender studies to call myself a feminist, all I bloody need is my passion for equality and my desire to want to fight for things like abortion rights, and gender equality and bugger me some of this shit is my sodding dayjob- I am probably more “qualified” than many to call myself a feminist (if you needed a “feminist qualification” which obviously you don’t!).  I really appreciate the time taken by other out and proud feminists to discuss some of these issues with me and ultimately help me not scuttle straight back into the closet where it felt safe!

So yes some further ponderances about you which have really got me thinking.

I like thinking, it makes a nice change from shitty nappies and tantrumming toddlers.

Lots of learning love


P.S I would welcome comments on this letter but please can we keep it civil, just because I am a total wimp and otherwise will probably cry.


19 responses to “Dear Feminism2

  1. Off to read the comments on previous post. But like you have been put off in the past by people who enjoyed telling me I don’t know enough about feminism to talk about it. I had made the silly mistake of thinking that being female and having an opinion made me at least partly qualified. Am always up for debate, and learning, but these things don’t have to be aggressive. My own thoughts on feminism are perhaps not always 100% right by the book, or fully formed, or fully educated. My feminism, like all facets of my personality continues to grow,Learn and evolve. I am a work in progress.
    Lovely well written piece as always lovely Curdy Lady xx

    • Ah thankyou and a brill comment. We are all evolving creatures. (Me I also need to evolve to eat less chocolate!) 😉

  2. God, what a bunch of cowbags.

    I just wrote a blog about sexism and it got re-tweeted and referenced on websites to a much wider audience, which is a mixed blessing as you know.

    Now I am delivering a Feminism 101 course to one commenter who will not accept that the reason for lower numbers of women in certain industries is socio-cultural and not biological. Even though he just quoted the bit of the paper that proved him wrong.

    One of my favourite feminists is Twisty Faster from I Blame the Patriarchy and I think a lot of people would stereotype her as “man hating”. But I don’t blame her if she does, it’s a bloody war out there and it’s been good for a while but we’re starting to lose again.

    Keep on keeping on, sister! 😛

    • See I admire you so much as you are so much more assertive in your principles than me (I don’t consider you a shouty feminist btw!), when challenged you don’t run away and hide! I usually do- hence trying to analyse it a bit more here. 😀

      • God, I am a shouty feminist though. RARRRRRR FEMINISM! (aww thanks though)

        But sure, when people are up in my grille, it’s super hard to just fight back properly. (Especially if I want them to like me.) And I get really upset sometimes. I had a massive meltdown because some stranger called me a “fucking bitch” on a private forum and my friends didn’t stick up for me, they just asked “oh, did you call her out on it?”

        I’ve just got so old now, that I cannot be arsed with wasting time on pleasing fools. You’ll find out when you get to my age 😉

      • haha aren’t you like less than a year older than me :p yeah but you engage in a nice way- tis good.
        *adopts etellerandet as my feminist role model*

  3. Am almost too scared to comment, but I know where you’re coming from in agreeing with feminist principles but being wary about proclaiming oneself a feminist. Have you read Caitlin Moran’s book, ‘How To Be a Woman’?

    • YAY thankyou so much for braving a comment 🙂 , see that’s why I wrote the post as figured I needed to admit the fear to make my point- hurrah for not being alone in this! Haven’t read it yet but will at some point probably.

  4. It has a chapter called ‘I’m a Feminist’ where she encourages us all to be out and proud feminists.

  5. Totally agree. Have just finished reading Caitlan Morans chapter on feminism and she sums it up very well. Everyone just be “polite” to each other. If it isn’t polite, delivered by man or woman, it isn’t worth the light of day. Rave on, Lady Curd! You are awesome.

  6. A very lovely Feminist I know says Feminism is a journey and we all arrive at the destination but the journey with other women is what is important: it’s the support and activism for the Rights of Women which make us Feminists. We just need to be slightly more patient with ourselves on the journey. Revolutions which last don’t happen overnight. 🙂

  7. Agree the Caitlin Moran book is worth reading.

    I find it less odd that 30-something women do not identify as feminists than my mother’s generation – they were at the coal face and saw the spoils of that fight unfold in front of them. We were born into them therefore our expectation is higher.

    I identify as a feminist because of my belief in equal pay, access to contraception, decent childcare, etc, and some of this stuff is sorted for us in the uk but far less so in other countries. So I can’t leave it. Quite straightforward in my mind.

    Sort of like the fear feminism conjures up in some people though 😉

    • Hehe! See the fight for equality stuff especially re. Contraception, abortion, gender stereotyping, sexualisation etc. has always been a huge part of my life but didn’t feel need to identify as feminist to do that, even though by focusing so much on working in these areas can almost self define you as a feminist. Is a bit chicken and egg in a way 🙂

  8. Bugger. Now I’m worried MY comment looks like I’m all “everyone has to say they’re a feminist or I’ll stand out and men won’t like me as much! Waaah!!”.
    Must read the Caitlin Moran book as well. I have sometimes worried about not having read enough to be a “proper” feminist, too. And all the stuff I’ve read is pretty white and middle-class (Betty Friedan, Susan Faludi, Natasha Walter) – not that reading Caitlin Moran will help change that bit much!
    I think communicating with others in a more immediate, less showily theoretical way (e.g. by writing a blog like this) can make a much bigger difference than some “academic” feminism. When I did my masters (in literature, not women’s studies) I did encounter some feminist theory which was completely up its own arse – I’d rather a full-on ranting with a heart and the willingness to engage with others any day (your stuff is way better than Julia bloody Kristeva)

  9. BTW, that stuff about me just wanting every other woman to be a feminist so men like me as much as them – I’ve done some serious self-examination and decided it’s not true. Men fucking adore me 😉

  10. Pingback: Dear Feminism3- my lightbulb is on | Letters From LadyCurd

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