GENDER | feminism is not for women only
this weekend, i randomly stumbled upon a Facebook event called ‘Feminist Unite Party – Feministisk Fest!’, organised by Kvindehuset, which literally means ‘The Girls’ House’, here in Copenhagen. sounds cool, right?
but then, i scrolled down and noticed a disclaimer: ‘The party is a separatist event for transpeople, lesbians, bi, a, poly and heterosexual- and all other women.‘
you want to unite feminists but exclude all of them who do not identify as women? (also, how do you judge who passes as a woman? who are you to judge that?) the question now is: do the organisers really think that only female-identifying people can be feminists and therefore misunderstood the whole concept of feminism or do they simply use the hip f-word to promote their event? to make it straight, in my opinion at least, the main issue does not lie in throwing a separatist party for cis / trans women (even though i am definitely not fond of that concept), but in naming it a feminist party; and according to the comment section of the event, i am not the only one.
that is because feminism is about fighting for equality of all genders; and you simply cannot promote it by excluding or even preventing certain gender from participating in it.
but here we come to another issue connected to feminism – the quite widespread belief that feminism is for women only. well, no wonder, when the name itself immediately reminds you of words as ‘femininity’, ‘female’ or ‘feminine’. if you think of these words, in the gender binary framework, you have the ‘masculine’ as the opposite to ‘feminine’, and both terms come with a set of opposing characteristics (active x passive, strong x weak etc.), it naturally comes to your mind that perhaps men are not really welcome in the movement. i have already tackled this issue in a previous article, and i’ll repeat myself a bit – pursuing gender equality and using a term closely attached to only one of the genders to call the movement just seems a bit off to me. however, i do realise that it is a term with a lot of history behind it, as well as it is a name now commonly used (and often misused), and therefore it is quite impossible to replace / get rid of it. quite a situation we have here, right?
this whole name thing might be a reason why some people might have a problem with feminism as such. another issue is what some (again, some!) feminists falsely promote feminism to be. i have come across self-proclaimed feminists who quite actively diss both cis and trans men and, instead of smashing kyriarchy in pieces (read more about the concept of patriarchy vs kyriarchy here), simply urge that women are ‘better’ than men, through which the great gender divide just stays the same, perhaps even worse. there’s also the whole wave of young feminist digital artists, like Petra Collins for instance. in articles about the works of these artists, words like ‘reclaiming girlhood’, ‘cute’ and ‘feminine’ (again) go hand in hand with the word ‘feminism’. (and here, i have to admit, i am partially guilty of doing that too in my own work, at least previously) sure, such art is very important and does have a lot of impact, but it should not be advertised as if this was the sole meaning of such complex movement as feminism.
feminism should not be seen as a private girls-only club.
feminism needs to be inclusive and intersectional, it needs to be welcoming and educating and supportive in order to really achieve its main objective – to do away with oppression.
it’s about time.