Awkward things.

I’m Not a Feminist But…

on May 19, 2013

I am not a feminist. Or am I? The truth is that I have no idea.  Do I agree that women should earn the same as men? Yes. Do I think that a woman in a short skirt is begging to be raped? No. Do I think that small children should be exposed to sexed-up images of women? No. Do I think that those women have a right to strip for money? Of course. It’s a minefield. The idea of feminism is a loaded gun. Taylor Swift said a while ago that she wasn’t a feminist and the world imploded. Oh wait, it didn’t  but it got pretty darn close. If you say that you are not a feminist, you’re lumped in with the racists, homophobes and paedophiles, or so it seems. But I don’t think we’re on the same page here.

To me, feminism has an us against them feeling about it. I know it shouldn’t and to a lot of women it doesn’t, but that’s just the taste it leaves in my mouth. I don’t think women should smash through the glass ceiling sending the men hurtling down to earth. I believe in equality. It makes me cringe when I see women only competitions, campaigns to get women into male-dominated professions, blah, blah, blah. I’m the same with the MOBOs. Black people are allowed awards now people, Beyoncé does it all the time. It seems really patronising to me. It’s like throwing us a bone and saying ‘We’ll let you have your own awards, since you’re not good enough to compete against men. Happy now?’ No I’m not happy. I don’t want to be patted on the head and given a special vagina-themed trophy because I have boobs. I want to be equal. Can you imagine parliament canvassing for male MPs? What about a special man only book prize? Sorry Hilary Mantel, you’re too good, so let’s let someone else win something, ok? No. It would never happen.

Don’t get me wrong. When I say I want equality, I’m not saying that we’re the same. We have very different add-ons, I know this; I’m not in denial. Women and men have gender-related strengths, weaknesses, ailments, etc. This is a fact. Science hasn’t come close to closing that gap, I’m sure it will one day, when we live on a planet ruled by cockroach alien things that drag us around on leads and feed us treats if we make babies, but right now we’re rocking two different planets. So why don’t we play to our strengths? It’s a cliché, but maps make my eyes go funny and I’ve never met a man that reads instructions, so let’s team up, go Power Ranger on life’s arse and save the world. Of course there are superwomen and supermen, so if you are one, pat yourself on the back and move on with your life. No vagina trophy for you Glen Coco.

It just doesn’t seem fair to me to be whining about my period pain and demanding chocolate one minute, and berating my male friends for their man flu the next, (not fair, but still so, sooo enjoyable.) I want the opportunity to race against the boys and win, and I want to be allowed to like pretty things caked in glitter and covered in sequins. I want to at least try to beat my male friends at arm wrestling, (how are they so strong with such skinny arms?!) but still ask for help to reach things on the top shelf. I want it all, but I want men to have it all too. If they want to wear a dress and swoon over Ryan Gosling, the more the merrier. But no-one should get an award for being an awesome woman/man/cockroach alien thing; they should get an award for being the best of everyone. No patronising please. So am I a feminist? I suppose. But I’m also a masculist. Everyone is awesome. Go go Power Rangers!


4 responses to “I’m Not a Feminist But…

  1. bespectacled414 says:

    Actually, I’d say you’re definitely a feminist. I’d also recommend reading Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti (I know, it’s a bit YA, but it’s still good) or surfing the blog.

    The thing about mainstream culture is that it has made “feminism” a dirty word, painted all feminists as man-hating feminazis, and created the “us against them” mentality you describe. And by “mainstream culture,” yes, that does include patriarchy and white supremacy and homophobia and the 1% and ableism and all the other -isms. They’re all linked; it’s called intersectionality.

    And many of the specific awards you mentioned exist not because feminists believe women are better than men or need special awards, but because in general award categories right now, we aren’t equal. The “best” writers awards don’t go to the “best” writers; usually they go to the “best” privileged white male writers. This is a symptom of the intersectional patriarchy – historical oppression on multiple fronts has made it easier for straight white males to become successful “best” writers than low-income transgender lesbian Black women (for example). Athletics aside, these separate awards will hopefully become useless and redundant the more “equal” (as you have described it, and kudos to you for doing so) society at large becomes.

    But you’re right about one thing – mainstream culture assumes feminists hate men. When really, feminists and other social justice movements are about making society more equal than others. Which means more recognition on the mainstream circuits for Othered groups as well as more freedom from harassment for men and other privileged categories to behave outside the box (like men being free to paint their nails pink or wear dresses or do whatever they want that isn’t traditionally “man”).

    Great post!

  2. seemal says:

    thank you for this! so well written.

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