Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I am a feminist, I am not feminism.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the fact that they don’t want to identify as a feminist because they like wearing makeup. They care about their appearance, they enjoy playing with face paint (as I like to call it), and they are sick of the shit they have been getting for it. (Before this starts a minor riot of sub-tweets, my friend lives in the USA, she is not part of the NZ feminist circles.) The conversation made me angry.
Mostly angry at people who would push a woman away from supporting their beliefs because of how she presents herself. But also angry at her, for thinking a small group of women, who identify as feminists, ARE feminism.  And it made me think about how those of us who identify as a sub group, niche, clique, activist circle, coven, or whatever you want to call it protect our domain.
And I want to shout FUCK THAT.
For me feminism is simple.

Equality. Equality between all people across the gender spectrum. And yes, my personal way of going about it tends to be reminding women what they have the right to, and reminding men to have respect.
Some feminists protect women.
Some feminists argue with men.
Some feminists fight the system while some work within the system, undermining policy that protects imbalance.
Some feminists show their colours on the outside.
Some feminists have to conform so that they can get into spaces that are not “safe spaces."
Some feminists use pseudonyms, some don’t.
No one person pops out a fully formed feminist. It's a learning experience, growing and changing and developing as you do. I suspect as I become more disabled with age that my feminism will evolve with it.
There is a massive range of feminists, and combined, they make up the thriving vital varied growing mass that is feminism. None of them has the crown of Feminist Super Queen. There is no supreme feminist of which we can all aspire to. There are only ideals, and millions of different people who seek to fulfil them in a myriad of ways.
Over and over again I see feminists dismissing each other because they don’t have the same brand of feminism. Not educated enough, too rough, too brown, too white, too trans, too pretty, too privileged, too inexperienced. I’m pretty sure I’m too fucking bossy.
There is a huge spectrum out there, and there are feminists that I don’t like the behaviour of, or the personality of, or the ignorance of, or I don’t like their choices. Me not liking them has zero impact on whether they are a feminist. The only thing me liking them changes is whether we are friends.
Interestingly enough the only people who loudly proclaim to be feminists that I genuinely want to strip of their badges and send them back to feminism school are the TERFS, and they aren’t advocating for equality. They loudly denounce trans women as less than cis, and yet they never seem to think they are less feminist for it.
Chances are if you are questioning whether you are a feminist, you probably are. And if you don’t like someone else’s brand of feminism, then don’t hang out with them. Keep looking; keep being honest about what you think. Keep reading, keep learning, and eventually you find your tribe.

There are very few things that make me think someone cannot be a feminist. And they all come back to undermining the equality of people.

Quite frankly, if you are telling someone they can’t be in your cool feminist clubhouse, that’s pretty damn unequal isn’t it…
Image thanks to the talented Skottie Young - BUY A PRINT!

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