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.