GENDER | ‘feminism’ is not enough
i have noticed something:
everytime i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, it leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
it’s not that i would not want to stand for a great movement fighting against oppression, it’s actually just the word ‘feminism’ that makes it hard for me.
the first issue with the term ‘feminism’ that bothers me are all the misconceptions of it. one of my friends recently told me that he ‘identifies as a feminist only in front of people who know what it actually means’. i love how the author of this article puts it:
‘And yet, in my professional and personal life, I increasingly find myself talking about feminist ideas without actually using the word “feminism.” Why? It is exhausting to preface every conversation about combating misogyny with winsome, disarming anecdotes about how I actually do like men—enough to even marry one!—and how I actually haven’t burned any bras (and probably never will, because they are so expensive). I’m tired of doing this myth-debunking dance, and, weirdly enough, the conversation often goes more smoothly if I just avoid the “F-Word” entirely. … When I speak, write, and talk about feminism to a non-feminist audience, I often feel more like a beleaguered PR rep than someone creating productive discussion about how to cultivate social equality between men and women.‘
see, that’s it, many people think it’s somewhat of a female-exclusive club collectively hating anything men do, which, sadly, some self-identified feminists might actually even be. in fact, feminism is ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes’. (according to Merriam-Webster) feminism as a movement, nowadays, is much more intersectional in terms of race, gender (yes, there are more than just two genders), sexuality, religion and so on.
but isn’t the term ‘feminism’ already emphasizing / privileging (through acknowledging the existing non-privilege of) one specific stereotyped gender? i mean, everyone probably connects ‘feminism’ to words as femininity or female. yet, now in 2015, many have come to the conclusion that those stereotyped gender divisions used in the past are not that accurate anymore; and that all the definitions of what is supposed to be ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ or which traits you should have to be of certain gender are being blurred out. some really good remarks related to the issue were raised in the ‘Do you think that if the name was changed from Feminism to Gender Equality people would quit confusing it with male hating?’ online debate, for example:
‘I personally think describing “gender equality” with the word “feminism” is like describing “humanity” with the word “mankind.”‘ (so on point!)
‘Yes, if the title was changed from feminism to gender equality it may not come off as so anti-male. I must say, though, a title should not make that much of a difference, but it does.’
furthermore, there have been studies that prove that most people believe in gender equality, but many do not want to identify themselves as feminists because they think the term is negative. (source) that is extremely saddening, yet not that surprising, taking in account, for example, the recent transphobic comments by a certain renowned ‘feminist’.
another thing is that ‘feminism’ has sort of become an umbrella term for believing in many egalitarian ideas. simply, it is somewhat of an identifier for standing for something else than what the stereotyped social norms tell us to do. it is not about gender equality only, it encompasses a broad range of movements / ideologies, at least in my opinion.
to be more specific,
when i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, many people decode it as that i think women (= cis women) are oppressed and that i only blame men (= cis men) for that.
what i mean in fact is that i strongly disagree with all the sexism, gender stereotyping (in fact, i pretty much disagree with the whole concept of gender being an identifier of who / what we are), racism, human trafficking, hate crimes towards different sexualities, slut / virgin shaming, ableism, social injustice, body shaming etc.
when i say ‘i’m a radical feminist‘, they just think that i pretty much want to kill all men and be an ‘ugly lesbian’ for the rest of my life. (lololol)
what i really mean is that i believe that there is so much of all that listed above deeply ingrained in our society that i refuse to stay silent and i want simply want to preach about the importance of eliminating all that.
but does the term ‘feminism’ really mean that? to be honest, i don’t think so. yet i still use the term to sort of indicate that i have an ‘alternative’ view on many things, including the gender roles in our society, but not only. i expect that people understand it that way, but i’m not actually sure it really is like that.
and that’s the problem – when i say ‘i’m a feminist‘, it does not really communicate the meaning.
i feel like there is a need for a new word, a new holistic term that would cover all those broad issues.
but what should it be?
‘egalitarianism’ always pops up in my head, but that’s too social-status-related to fit.
one person suggested the term ‘equalism’ in a Reddit thread (source), which sounds pretty reasonable to me.
but if i suddenly started calling myself an ‘equalist’, would anyone actually have a clue what i mean by that?
what to do then?