Not a Feminist?
*Originally written in 2011. Republished from my old blog.*
Why Am I a Feminist?
Because women’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and…for lots of other reasons we are part of the women’s liberation movement. ~Author unknown, quoted inThe Torch, 14 September 1987
Feminism is: Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. The Free Dictionary, or, in the words of Cheris Kramare and Paula Treichler: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
Feminism is not anti-male, rather it is liberating both genders of their respective stereotypes. It is freeing women to be mechanics, stay-at-home mums, professors, politicians, beauticians, nurses and doctors. Whatever they want. Freeing men to be stay-at-home dads, business men, teachers, doctors, nurses or whatever they would like. It is not saying it’s wrong for a woman to be “feminine” (whoever gets to define what’s feminine anyway?) or for men to be “masculine” (ditto). It is giving each individual person the right, the freedom, and the resources, to become the best person they can be. To achieve their goals and dreams. To have the ability to go for what they want.
Okay, so what caused this little rant? Well, a few days ago a (Muslim) guy, who was in my parallel class in high school, posted on FB, why no feminists would defend women’s right to wear niqab or burqa if they wanted to. I replied that I’d been doing that for years, and then got the reply that I wasn’t a feminist, or at least not the kind he had in mind. (Which sort of did piss me off, and caused a rant asking him to define what a “real feminist” is, and why I believe in feminism).
I’m a feminist because I believe women and men are worth the same. Because I believe in equal rights and breaking down the gender stereotypes (both for men and women). Therefore I’ll also fight for any woman’s right to dress how she wants – whether that’s in a bikini or a burqa. In the same way, I’ll fight for any woman’s right to stay at home (if that is what her and her husband choose), or be a career woman – and vice versa for men.
Specifically in relation to hijab/burqa/niqab, I think the Western discussion is completely irrelevant and unimportant, as long as the woman is making a free choice. I think it is much more important to focus on education, and the possibility of making free choices in life, such as choice of education, work etc. Following these choices, is usually the independence and freedom to choose to wear the veil, or choose not to, but frankly, I think it is much more damaging than it does any good, when people come from outside and try to tell other people how to dress or act, without any understanding for that specific culture and society. This is why I believe education is the way to go, since it gives the individual human being the tools to study the issues themselves, and form their own opinions and beliefs.
And btw, I’m not the only ones to feel that way about the French ban (which in my opinion is incredibly sexist, it is solely targeting women, only causing them to become even more isolated, and we are talking about less than 2000 women, out of 5 million Muslims in France). To veil or not to veil is a question to be navigated by Muslim women – what kind of feminism supports the imposition of values and behaviors on women by a government? – French veil ban goes into effect – Feministing
Oh, and as for my friend and I, we spoke and I think we are sort of on the same page now, and I do understand his frustration, because there are still many women, so-called feminists, who believe they have the right to tell other women what feminism is really like, how they are supposed to dress, behave and believe. That is just a modern form of colonialism and is absolutely despicable and disrespectful in my opinion.