Monday, May 2, 2011

A non-feminist's view on feminism

Depsite what some people might think, I don't consider myself a feminist. I do believe that women should be empowered, independent and fulfilled - with or without a man. I do believe women should be treated equally, and have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities as anyone else.

The thing is - I believe that about everyone. I think I sometimes sound like I'm preaching the woman's case because I speak from that perspective - but that's because I'm a woman. It's really the only perspective from which I have a view.

Feminism is defined as "the doctrine advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men;" and "an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women." To me, a feminist is someone who is actively engaged in that fight. Who believes that women don't enjoy the same rights as men, and who believes that is something for which we need to fight.

I'm not debating whether we do or we don't - mostly because I'm in no mood to research facts, and I suspect even if I was, I'd find plenty in support of either position. The fact is - I've never had to fight for my rights as a woman. I've never been shut out of a club or a job because of my gender; I've never earned less than my male counterparts; I've never been pregnant, so I've never experienced any related prejudice or challenge; I've grown up in a world where my reproductive rights have always been respected.

Since I've never had to fight for equal rights, it seems hypocritical that I would call myself a feminist - someone who actively fights. Plenty of women came before me who did fight for those rights, so that women like me could be in a position to say, "I've never...." It seems disrespectful for me to align myself with them and their heroic efforts - so I won't.

I suspect those women hoped that eventually there would be women like me. They fought and argued and lost and won battles - all in the name of equality. The whole point being that one day, women wouldn't have to fight anymore. The point was never for the battle to keep going - the idea was to win, right?

I guess if I can say "I never had to...." - I'm proof of some victory, no matter how small.


  1. I'm with you on this one, at one point women did have to fight for their rights and positions, not it's not so much the case any longer. I believe that people should be strong for their own sake, that people should be treated fairly regardless of the gender and that while men and women may not all be capable of the same things, they should be (and are) equal under the law.

    I've had to fight for certain things when it came to chauvinistic teachers or bosses, but I did so and did so well because of those who came before me and the fact that I'll advocate for myself.

    Another reason I don't want to necessarily align myself with that label is that I really believe that there are many out there who take it to an extreme or are using the label to hide behind certain insecurities.

  2. I agree as well. Feminism used to be something that was a worthy cause! Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony fought for something that needed fighting for and made it possible for us to live as we wish.

    These days, I agree with cuteella on this, is that it's taken to an extreme. These days, the sentiments of the hardcore feminists is like beating a dead horse. They are giving themselves a rather annoying name by screaming for things they already have.

  3. There are still far too many places in the world where women have few or no rights at all. That point has never been lost on me, but it was magnified last night during Lara Logan's interview on "60 Minutes."

  4. There are different types of feminists. I teach women's lit courses, and many of my students tell me they are surprised to find I'm not a "bra-burning feminist." Those feminists are the ones who aren't after equality; they want to usurp men in general.

    I think there are women still fighting for equal pay, etc. And there are certain professions that are not kind to women...women must work extra-hard to prove themselves and/or put up with certain types of abuse.

    Cheryl Glenn wrote an interesting book on the topic called The Rhetoric of Silence. She looks into modern-day examples of women who had to fight for their rights while silenced by men. It was interesting because she pointed out how women have been historically silenced, but that certain women in the present have used this silence as a weapon or tool to fight back.

  5. I totally believe in equal rights under the law. Personally, I'm attracted to women who arent's subject to the collective giggle, and who don't feel pressured to get all gussied up every time they go to the super market. To my understanding, feminism was/is a reactionary movement intended to balance the scales. But sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason; who better to nurture the baby than the mommy who carried it inside her for 9 months? Some of the best bosses I've had were women. Plus, they smell nice (kidding!)