“No, I’m not a feminist...”
It seems to happen all the time; from Taylor Swift to Beyoncé, many high-profile celebrities in interviews have ‘revealed’ that they do not call themselves feminists. Sometimes it’s because of the connotations that the word brings. Other times, they just don’t want to give themselves a label which might be misconstrued. But by far the most hurtful times are when they follow their confession with “...because I don’t hate men.”
Feminism is not about hating men, and it is not something to be afraid or ashamed of. I hope someday the rest of the world will accept that - but until then, I will continue calling myself feminist with my head held high, because there are some pretty awesome benefits:
1. Feminism is about equality
That’s really all there is to it, in the broadest sense of the word. Women and men are equal; women should have the same rights as men, and men should have the same rights as women. Regardless of age, race, sexuality... it is simply about equality.
2. Using the word ‘feminist’ acknowledges the movement’s history
The word has been around since the mid/late 19th century and has been associated with several different groups or ‘waves’ over time. By calling yourself a feminist, you acknowledge the progress that has been made in the past and look forward to what remains to be done in the future. Calling yourself an “egalitarian” or “humanist” erases this history, and diminishes the power of a movement which has been evolving for decades, if not centuries.
3. Finding like-minded people
I accept a lot of people don’t like the idea of labelling themselves as something specific - it can seem quite a narrow definition of your personal ideas and beliefs, or it can risk alienating people. However, on the other hand, calling myself a feminist has opened doors, helped me bond with like-minded students, exposed me to feminist social media platforms, and given me an umbrella term to quickly and easily explain to someone that gender equality is important in my life.
4. Feminist is actually an umbrella term
It might seem quite niche, but consider this: you can also have eco-feminists (placing importance on the environment), multiracial feminists (stressing the intersectionality of gender and race), socialist feminism (fairly self-explanatory), or even French feminists (drawing specifically from French theorists). “I’m a feminist” doesn’t always mean the same thing to one person as to another, but it’s very useful for giving a general sense.
5. The more people use it, the more it will be understood
If we continue using feminism like a taboo word, then the connotations of it will not change. However, the more mainstream it becomes and the more people dare to spread the message, the better general understanding will become. I call myself a feminist to start discussions, broaden minds, and align myself with others who want the world to be a more equal place.