why I like the label “feminist.”

As I’ve been reading feminist discourse and feminist blogs, I’ve stumbled on a large number of women and men and people who have chosen to reject the label of “feminist” and distance themselves from the “feminism” movement.

But while the different brands differ radically and I certainly don’t like the tactics of certain groups, nor agree with the ideas of other groups (sometimes the two do overlap), I cannot reject [insert type of feminist here] groups for the blatant [insert hypocritical/misogynist/hurtful tactic(s) here] of some high-profile members of that group, because that would be an attack ad hominem, although it is fine to call them out on it.

For instance, rejecting anti-porn/prostitution feminists and feminism because of some blatant slut-shaming. (However, when the method points out a specific disconnect within thinking, I pause a little more. Note: purtek identifies as a feminist.)

Most of all, feminists have successfully lobbied for important changes and improvements, and to disconnect myself from feminism is, for me, a rejection of this fight for equality. And in other people’s eyes, I will not be a part of this fight for equality. I can argue that MRAs and misogynists and “regular folk” think that feminism is really about radical men-hating women putting themselves above The Men, and so distancing myself from feminism is a good thing. That I will find more sympathy from the public. Or that various sections of feminism are really racist and focused on middle-class white women and ignore transpeople and etc. etc. and that I am better forging into the woods on a path of more righteousness. But that would be ignoring the fact that misogynists won’t like any type of “let’s make everyone equal” regardless of the fact that it comes labeled as feminism, humanism, womynism, or with no labels at all. And it would be ignoring the fact that many people are working within the feminist movement to right the disconnect between white hetero middle class and everyone else.

Also, this is a fight not easily won. And the more we are split, the harder it is to fight. It is easy for the oppressors to keep the oppressed down – I’m thinking back to the Chinese/Japanese Americans (Koreans, Indians, the rest of Southeast Asia, and everyone else are never mentioned in history textbooks, so sorry, I have no clue how those groups behaved. Maybe I’m supposed to assume they didn’t exist in American history until the 1990’s, but a little note would be nice) of the 1800s, who did not hesitate to keep African and Mexican Americans down to raise their status. It still happens, you know.

But I won’t force anyone from rejecting. I’m not going to, that’s all.* I’m a feminist.

*This calls into question: Can I say, I don’t approve, but I don’t have a problem with it? Sounds kind of like, I don’t have a problem with gay people, but I wouldn’t want my kids to be gay.** Dear, you have no choice over whether your kids are gay or not.
**This is another interesting argument. Do you not want your kids to be gay because you are a closet homophobe, or because you don’t want them to go through the hurt of being an oppressed class in society? Or is the second option really just benevolent paternalism, and you’re just a closet homophobe anyway? [I have no answers.]

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1 Comment

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One response to “why I like the label “feminist.”

  1. Interesting point calling it an “ad hominem” attack (and by ‘interesting’, I do mean ‘good and thought-provoking’). Though as you pointed out, I do still identify as feminist, I do think there is a distinct difference between rejecting the label and rejecting one of the positions within it – for example, the anti-porn stance. Obviously, I think it’s worth taking pause and questioning the idea if you see an argument that makes you do so, and I guess all I’m trying to say is I also get worried because some people seem to mistake the rejection of one aspect of an individual’s political position with the wholesale rejection of everything else that individual believes in. One can reject “anti-porn” without rejecting everything that every “anti-porn feminist” believes, and certainly (I hope) without renouncing the feminist label. Not saying you’re doing this here, just wanted to say it explicitly, because a whole hell of a lot of people do.

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