So...yeah. Right now there’s a lot of talk about a tumblr called WomenAgainstFeminism. It’s just pictures of some women holding up handwritten signs entitled “I don’t need feminism because...” Some of the reasons they give for not needing feminism almost seem like a parody (“How the fuck am I suppose to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband?”) and some (“I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men”) just make me wonder where in the world they got their definition of feminism.
At first I considered starting my own “I Don’t Need _____ Because” tumblr with people holding equally baffling signs. Signs like:
I don’t need books because YOU KNOW WHO WROTE BOOKS? HITLER. HITLER WROTE A BOOK. NO THANK YOU, NAZIS.
I don’t need money BECAUSE I HAVE A CHECKBOOK, ASSHOLE.
I don’t need air because LOTS OF IT IS FARTS. I’M NOT BREATHING FARTS. YOU BREATHE FARTS.
But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing: Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically? Then you’re probably a feminist. There are a million tiny aspects of this to break off into and I get it. It’s complicated. There’s not just one type of feminist, just as there’s not just one type of Christian or Muslim, or man or woman. Hell, there’s not even just one type of shark. Some are non-threatening and friendly. Some get sucked up into tornadoes and viciously chew off people’s faces until that guy from 90210 stops the weather with bombs. (Spoiler alert.) The point is that sharks, much like feminists, are awesome, and beneficial, and the world would be a worse place without them. Plus, they’re incredibly entertaining and even if you sometimes think they’re dicks for eating cute seals you still yell “HOLYSHITLOOKATTHAT!” when Shark Week comes on. I think this is a bad analogy. Lemme try again.
Feminists are like bees. They are adorable and fuzzy but people run away from them because they don’t understand that they just want to make things good. We’d be fucked without bees. Seriously. And yes, some bees are assholes and maybe one killed your great-uncle and there are some that you give the side-eye to when they start acting crazy but eventually you realize that you have to take the good bees with the bad bees and maybe just be picky about what honey you choose to eat. Eat the raw honey, by the way. It’s way healthier. That last part isn’t part of the analogy. It’s just good advice from my great-grandfather (beekeeper). Also, like bees, feminists secrete a non-edible wax and are easily distracted by smoke.
I’ve lost my point.
Wait, no. I’ve got it again.
Feminism is inherently good. It’s not even close to perfect and still needs lots of work and sometimes it gets all fucked up and backward and awful but that doesn’t mean it’s not still worth fighting for. Now go back and replace “Feminism” with “The human race”. It works, right?. That’s because feminists are made of human. Men and women. In fact, one of my favorite feminists is Sir Patrick Stewart.
I’m not saying you can’t choose to not be a feminist but know what you’re choosing. Don’t make a decision about a group based on the most radical beliefs of a group. Don’t get defensive if you get deeper and are exposed to difficult ideas about intersectionality and race and gender and colonialism and patriarchy and male liberation. Just listen. Some of it will make sense. Some of it won’t. Some of it will later when you’re a different person. Some of it you’ll change your mind about throughout your life and the world will change too. Some of it is bullshit. Some of it is truth. All of it is worth listening to.
And now you get to decide. Are you a feminist? Yes? No? Well, don’t worry because tomorrow you get to choose again. And that keeps happening every day for the rest of your life.
As for me, I am a feminist (among so, so many other things). I believe in equality and I think we still have work to do. I’m thankful to the men and women who worked to give me the freedom and rights I have today and I am proud to be a part of a movement that I hope will make the world better and safer for my daughter (and for the men and women she’ll share that world with). I’m happy we’ve come so far and I’m glad that we’re becoming more aware of feminist issues that don’t just focus on straight, white women, even though confronting those issues is sometimes painful. And I’m happy that the womenagainstfeminism tumblr exists. Because even though I disagree with most of them I’m glad that those women have a platform on which to speak, and also because if we know what the arguments or misperceptions are against feminism then we can better address them. Or agree with them. Or ignore them. Or discuss them with our sons and daughters so they can make informed decisions for themselves. It’s up to you.
We’re all equally deserving to express our opinion. After all, that’s what feminism is all about.*
*Or maybe not. I got kinda confused after the shark analogy went sideways.