I am a Feminist. Are You?

Oooh, that scary F-word.  It breaks my heart to hear women say something supporting women’s rights, and then say “oh, but I’m not a feminist”, or, even worse “but don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminazi”.  There is a misconception that being a feminist means that you preemptively hate all men, that you are angry about feminist issues all the time, that you want to scream to the heavens as you burn your bra and declare that all sex between men and women is rape.

I don’t hate men.  On the contrary, between my dad, boyfriend, and some of the lovely men I have the privilege to call my friends, I think that it can safely be said that I love men.  I have surrounded myself with shining examples of men who are loving, kind, and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

I am a feminist because

  • I believe that I deserve to be paid the same amount as a man who has been doing the same job as I have for the same period of time.
  • I believe that I deserve access to medically accurate information regarding my sexual health.
  • I believe that I deserve to have my contraception covered by my health insurance, just like I deserve to have a broken bone covered.
  • I believe that I have the ability to decide my own sexual partner or partners, and that derogatory terms for my sexuality qualify as verbal assault.
  • I believe that I and my partner are the only ones who are responsible for deciding when I have a child, if ever.
  • I believe that I deserve to walk down the street without being harassed.
  • I believe that I have the right to decide my place in society.  If I and my partner decide that I should be a housewife, then that should be acceptable and supported.  If I decide to be the CEO of an international corporation and earn that title, then that should be accepted and supported.
  • I believe that teaching women how to “not get raped” instead of teaching everyone “don’t rape” is a failure of our society.
  • I believe that women and men are raped, abused, and exploited.  I believe that this is a tragedy that is also a failure of our society.
  • I believe that “look at what she was wearing”, “how much alcohol did she drink?”, and “well, she should take responsibility for putting herself in a bad situation”, are classic examples of rape culture, and these phrases should be removed from any discourse.
  • I believe that books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey normalize and romanticize abusive and controlling relationships.  I believe that holding these up as “romantic ideals” for young women creates a generation of victims.
  • I believe that the cult of virginity is toxic.
  • I believe that I have the right to expect that I am treated with respect, and that my stated boundaries are honored.
  • I believe that everyone should have the right to get married, no matter what their sexual orientation may be.

These are just a few of the reasons that I am a feminist.  Do you consider yourself a feminist?  Do you agree with my reasons, or have a few of your own to add?

Posted on June 26, 2012, in Feminism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Firstly, I want to say that this post is fantastic.

    Second – to answer your question – I might be a bit hardline when it comes to feminist discourse, but I think being willing to proclaim all of these things and act on them is one of the most important parts of being a feminist. You can believe all of these things, sure, but much of what feminism is, is going out of your way, when it is socially unacceptable, awkward, or otherwise, to be active about it. Calling people out for rape commentary, spreading awareness to your social groups, etc.

  2. I personally don’t believe “50 Shades of Grey” is normalizing abusive relationships. I believe it’s a poorly written BDSM novel by someone who has very little knowledge of that culture. But I definitely believe Twilight is much more damaging, especially because it’s targeted at such a young audience.

    • I know of so many women who are practically swooning over the controlling behavior that Christian Grey exhibits. They want their own version at home. It scares me, to be honest.

      • I haven’t read the book, and I know I really should before making a comment, but against my own good sense I’ll go ahead with it anyway based on what I’ve talked about with those who have…

        From what I’ve heard about the book’s plot, it’s a guy who has a poor relationship with his mother and ends up, basically, psychologically unstable. He displaces his aggressive and controlling behaviour on some unknowing girl and they end up in an incredibly one-sided sexual relationship.

        I certainly think kink stuff should be more widely accepted and not be seen as “deviant” – but a major part of what that is, is being able to give up control to another person (for the submissive types) without giving up the feeling of safety (which is what happens in the novel). If anything, this requires more respect and communication between the two people involved, not less.

  3. what a concise, well-written post – love it!

  4. (and i agree with you 100%)

  5. I don’t think anyone believes that the novels you used as examples are held up in society as anything more than escapist reading material. What’s more, I think you are selling your sex short if you believe that women truly want to model their relationships based on something they read in popular fiction. If you are going to make such a bold statement then either state it as your opinion or cite a source.

    The blatent issue with feminism from a female perspective is that most feminists are percieved in a negative light and for some of us who exist in a wholly dominated male world it is better not to ascribe to such a title. As is obvious by the term ‘Femnazi’, the title feminist stands at par with the term misogynist for quite a few people, if it didn’t it would be shunned in quite the nature it has been since first coined. Since it’s obvious based on your blog you’re quite outspoken for equal rights wouldn’t it be better to describe yourself as an egalitarian?

  6. As one who does participate in BDSM (and a submissive at that), letting yourself go and giving up control is part of the experience. It’s like rush, similar to a roller coaster is the best analogy I can think of at the moment. But yes, when the line of safety and consent becomes blurry, then you have a problem. That is not something that should be romanticized. The pieces I’ve read of the novel seem innocuous at first but definitely build to level of dominance that is questionable. As for the psychological background of Grey, it’s not uncommon for people involved in the kink community to have difficult pasts. I know for some BDSM is almost a way of dealing with it, like it’s regaining that control that was once lost.

  7. “I believe that teaching women how to “not get raped” instead of teaching everyone “don’t rape” is a failure of our society.”

    Why not both? And don’t we already teach both?
    Bad people will do bad things. We teach kids that they should not do bad things. We also teach them to avoid being in a situation where they’re vulnerable to bad people. (eg, don’t walk into dark alleys.)

    • “Bad people will do bad things” is a massive oversimplification of how people, and cultures, work. People might be pre-disposed to certain unethical actions, which are then cultivated in the sort of culture that they grew up in, but it’s not as simple as “Some people are just bad” – I would very much encourage you to look into what rape culture is.

      This is a hyper-brief summary, but largely speaking, it’s the ambivalence towards rape where blame is regularly shifted to the woman, or the man is excused. Women “asking for it” – by having worn certain things are acted a certain way – is a common symptom of this, but it also considers jokes and commentary that marginalize, silence, or otherwise make rape survivors feel uncomfortable with their own bodies.

      Since rape is “so obviously bad” we don’t talk about it very much – but so few people actually understand what rape IS that people, perhaps unknowingly, commit it, not realizing the impact they are having on the person that they are with. Or perhaps they do, and just don’t care. And as a culture, we CAN do something about that.

  8. This sort of thing makes me sad because women continue to prop up that hate movement and continue to repeat a lot of its deeply divisive and sexist propaganda without ever questioning what they are doing. If you really support equality why would you pick a name that is so associated with hatred and sexism? It’s like you are spitting on men and telling them it’s good for them. If you really wanted equality you wouldn’t spit on anybody.

    • I’m not really sure what you’re talking about here. I absolutely support equality, and feel that by and large, the third-wave feminist community works towards those goals.

      • Thank you for replying.

        You might feel that way about feminism, but the victims of feminism don’t. Can you put yourself in their shoes for a second and think about how it looks to them when you call yourself a feminist?

        Also: could you delete that other copy of this message please? I really hate the way the security on these forms messes you up 🙂

    • For some reason I can’t comment on your most recent post –

      Victims of feminism…? Could you care to elaborate on who those are, precisely?

      • What do you think I mean by the term? I would think you would already know what I meant more or less, so I am not sure what the meaning of the question is. Tell me what you think it means.

      • And again, I can’t reply to your post.

        Not that it matters, your response more or less points out your case. When you have knowledgeable legs to stand on, by all means criticise feminism and we can have a discussion about impact, but avoiding my point won’t get you anywhere.

  9. Yes – I am a feminist. A placard waving one too, but I’m in no way an emasculating man-hater. Too often is feminism mistaken for radical feminism. I would like a man to be a man – a strong, brawny, man’s man – who is strong enough to be with an equally strong woman. That’s my utopia. End of story.

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