Admit You’re a Feminist for International Women’s Day

Back in 2012 I realized I am a feminist—albeit with a little hesitation. Claiming to be a feminist, after all, can carry a lot of pressure, and a good deal of judgement. People see feminists as shrill, bossy, angry hordes of women coming to rip men apart with their pointy feminist teeth. Snap!

I am a feminist graphic with empowered fist

So I thought, “I’m not shrill or angry. I don’t want to chew on the souls of men…maybe I’m not a feminist.”

We’re also in a really interesting time in history. It’s like the smelling salts have been snapped, and we’re all getting a jarring new look around. Organizations like Miss Representation, Feminist Frequency, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are doing the painstaking work of really inspecting what we see and hear in TV, film, and advertising. Through that process a lot of really normal and accepted stuff is being called out as sexist. Misogyny lurks under so many things we really dig (Blurred Lines, anyone?), and one of the roles of feminism is to really look at our world, and call creepy, sexist BS for what it is. But if you’re in the shower singing Blurred Lines and thinking, “This is my jam!” and then you read about how it’s a bunch of creepy, sexist, BS that normalizes rape, suddenly you feel like a creepy sexist who normalizes rape culture. Hmm…(It’s okay. You probably aren’t.)

Feminism also tackles a whole host of topics, some of which might make you uncomfortable. Like the roles of women (and men) in the workplace. The roles of women (and men) in the home. And reproductive rights, which necessitates the use of the word vagina. (Why is vagina such a scary word, you all? 7th graders say it in health class.)

And that stuff? That makes feminism feel like a club that you’re not in.

But unless you’re the mayor of Crapville, you’re probably a feminist. Here’s a test to find out:

  1. Do you think women are just as important as men?
  2. Do you think it’s wrong and bad for women to be beat, groped, harassed, or raped?
  3. Do you think that babies need parents, and that women and men should be allowed to take time off from work when said babies are born or adopted?
  4. Do you think men can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be strong, or violent, or void of emotion?
  5. Do you think women can be whatever kind of person they want to be? That they don’t have to be subservient, or demure, or “pretty”?
  6. Do you believe that all people are valuable and we should treat them that way?

Did you answer “yes” to most of those? Well, friend…you’re a feminist.

We’re not going to agree on everything. We feminists—we’re going to have differences and diversity just like anyone else. We’re going to muddle through all of these topics, push back on norms, and bumble around quite a bit. And you’re not going to feel like you’re doing it right.

But you don’t stop being a parent because you don’t know all the answers. You don’t stop voting just because the issues are complicated. You don’t stop shopping until you straighten out your economic theory. You dive in. You work it out. You take it easy on yourself and your fellow humans. You know there’s room to grow.

It is actually important to use the F word

The more people freely say, “I’m a feminist,” the less people will associate feminism with harpy witch women who hate men. The more men say, “I’m a feminist,” the more we can use feminism to improve men’s lives too. (Want to see a man doing some badass work for feminism? Look no further than your favorite Star Trek captain.) The more people throw their weight behind feminism, the faster we’ll progress.

And you know what? We need feminism in a bad way. Click that link and check out aaaaaall those reasons.

I promise once women get equal pay, I won’t care if you call yourself a feminist or not. When women and girls stop getting raped, then executed for it, I’ll leave you alone. When girls don’t get shot in the head for wanting education, when parenthood and earning a living can co-exist, when johns are prosecuted more than the underage prostitutes they rape, when women earn the same pay for the same work—WHEN I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE A LIST OF THIS CRAPPY STUFF, we can abandon the word feminist on the side of the road. It will have served it’s purpose. Until then—and it’s gonna be a while—pretty pretty please use that F word.

So, congratulations! You’re a feminist!

Go celebrate International Women’s Day by claiming feminism as your own. Tell your friends and family to join in on the fun. Let’s make a ruckus and do some good work. I’ll raise a fist in the air for you.

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12 Comments

  1. Leif

     /  May 23, 2014

    This is really good. I know you already know, but just in case there’s any doubt…I am definitely a feminist. You’re the best, friend!

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  2. You paragraph that begins, “I promise,” explains the harsh reality of inequality beautifully. Very nice post.

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  3. I like your explanation and definition of Feminism here. Sorry late response, *thinking…I guess I’d rather like to think of myself as a non-partial/partisan non-speciest, so I’m just Pro-Human. :)

    Besides, every human male that ever was, was first an XX (female) before becoming an XY (male)…Then there must be something quite extraordinary about both sexes, right?

    Labels are for things*, objects, weirdo-politicians; these are disposable words without any profundity but they are never wholly capable of defining human beings – or even what we should or can think of. Like, ever. I just think that’s far more awesome :D

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    • Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Luna.

      I totally get the desire to stay free of labels as much as possible. I’m the same way when it comes to a LOT of things. However, I do think there’s a lot of value in using the “feminist” label right now. Like I said, in 200 years when the gender difference disappears, I won’t care if anyone uses the word or not. But for now, feminism has such a bad rap AND there’s so much to be done, that a neutral response has a negative impact.

      When even people who believe in feminist principles don’t claim it (as a lot of pretty high-profile people have done recently), it’s a subtle confirmation for people that are afraid of/disagree with feminism that there’s something wrong with it. It implies that feminism should be avoided.

      On the other hand, when enough people claim feminism, the scales will tip. More people will be seeing the world through that lens. There will bring a deeper understanding that feminism is not a bunch of women complaining about minor stuff, but a bunch of people advocating for freedom and safety and equality for *ALL* people.

      So there are my two (hundred) cents. Thank you again for being thoughtful and engaged. Every conversation is a step forward.

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      • Very good points. I’m just not sure that males and females are equal, unfortunately we’re just different*, but I think we are equally different, and both very excellent. And then what does that say to others who are Transgender or even Intersexed, XXY’s and even XYY’s, how do they fit in? Should they just become be Pro-Female or Pro-Male? They live in beautiful ambiguity, some by choice, others have no choice in the matter. And all, are very acceptable and valuable human beings.

        For example, when I read this quote by Gloria Steinem: “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.” I just don’t believe they ever will! Unfortunately :/ (I wish though lol)

        I know there’s speculation about us evolving into a weird and horrible future as described in, “Brave New World”, but I don’t want that either! And cloning, that’s fine with me but what if we’re then whittled away down to only that??? It then becomes apparent that we’re not actually proliferating our species anymore, we’re just copies…We need difference; novelty, change and adaptability of genes. Not conformity.

        We carry life created only with their participation. No them, no Zygotes, no human life…I then worry about feminizing our boys and what damage that will do to them…We need them* as they are, ya know? We all have different qualities, both are needed. And our boys are actually suffering a great deal now because of our attempting to “feminize” them. Why do that? We don’t masculinize girls, do we? We are, as we are. All of us. Meaningful.

        I also have problems with Sheryl Sandberg and her recent “I’m a boss, not bossy” campaign, she just isn’t a representative of almost ninety-nine percent of the worlds’ female population, not even the male population, LOL! Nor is Geena Davis. I often find their work both confusing and degrading, for all of us.

        Both of these women have enormous amounts of help in their daily lives and have very exorbitant wealth resources. How can I translate that type of entitlement to any child of any gender in Africa or India, or who lives in extreme poverty? I can’t. Nor can they. By all accounts, most of humanity has failed to impress our Western “values” of wealth upon them. And I think that’s good. I don’t think I want to colonize the male species that way either, I just want equality for all. I’m not a super-woman and I don’t think I should have to be. I’m not going to wedge myself into that mould of existence. Nor should any boy have to adhere to that created predicament, or diminish himself just because he is a boy.

        When that happens, men stop hurting women and women stop hurting men; men and women start receiving “equal pay for equal work”. Both men and women then start getting paid for whichever work they choose, away or at home. Women, then truly have choice over their bodies, reproductively and exactly how and what they choose to do with their bodies. And then so do men. Society then gets broader, more varied, and even more spectacular because it includes all. That’s true equality. And that’s being Pro-Human :D I’ll worry about another gender species when the aliens arrive. It will be nightmare, but oh well lol :) G-d forbid they have like twenty different genders or something. Lord (or their *lord) help us!

        Dunno, now my brain hurts from thinking and considering, LOL! (and yes, I know that NO man would ever admit that either haha ;P) But thank you for this article :) Thinking and conversation about all of this, is very good indeed :D

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  4. Great post! In the early 90’s, one of the most outspoken NON-feminists, Pat Robertson, was quoted, saying that feminism is a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” For years, I frequently wore a t-shirt with that quote emblazoned across the front and I was always surprised that so few people (either women or men) responded to it. The topic just seemed to make them uncomfortable. So I’d like to say here that Pat Robertson was wrong and proudly add that I am a feminist!

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  5. Thank you for writing this, it’s awesome! I’m going to share it on my facebook page “We Are More”

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  6. Natalie DeYoung

     /  March 8, 2014

    I wrote about this last year, and said pretty much the same thing about how to tell if you’re a feminist (http://wp.me/p2Js7k-VD). Glad to hear another feminist claim it without qualifications!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Hahaha! How funny! I was just about to leave a “Natalie’s similar post last year made me rethink a lot of things and here’s a link even though I’m pretty sure you, Melanie, read it but, anyway, I’m going to bookmark this post, too, because this is a hot topic in my brain” but then you, Nat, pretty much took care of all of that for me.
      Except the bookmarking part. I will go do that now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • You’re one of the good ones, Natalie! And Ekgo, people like you make up a rad community of folks making the world better.

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      Reply

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