This article was first published by Magdalene on 21 October 2016 and was included on their Weekly Top 5 Posts for two consecutive weeks. Click here to go to their site.
“You’re either for Hillary or you’re a misogynist,” a friend said once as I was trying to explain to her why I rooted for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic presidential candidacy a few months ago.
I was surprised, to say the least. Not because she called me a misogynist, which, by the way, I definitely am not, but because I didn’t expect her to be one of those self-proclaimed feminists who believe that it shouldn’t matter whether a woman is capable or not as long as women get their voices heard.
But it’s not entirely wrong. I think during the early time of feminist movement; when women were not even allowed to go out of their homes without male companions – let alone run for a political office – that was certainly the case, but certainly not now.
Women no longer have to just accept whatever they are given. I think it is just as demeaning to say that a political figure should get elected based on the sheer fact that she is a woman as to say that a woman isn’t capable of assuming leadership positions at all.
There are so many things going in my head right now, but I’m trying not to bore everyone who is reading this and consequently fail at conveying what I’m trying to convey, so I will cut to the chase: I believe there’s something wrong with today’s feminist movement.
I only have anecdotal occurrence and findings instead of statistics, to support this assertion, but I’m seeing a lot of people claiming to be feminists, working to change things for the better and all, but beneath all these things they’re doing, their purpose is not to solve the problems, but to preserve them.
Feminism, for some people, is nothing but a good business stunt. Women can work but of course with less salary for equal work. Women can access education, but of course their opinions don’t matter as much as men’s do. Women can run for political offices, but of course they’re never meant to actually win. If they do, we’re all screwed up.
Most of the time, I shy away from describing myself as a feminist. Not because I don’t think I am, but because I think being a feminist isn’t something you just suddenly get to be as soon as you called Trump out for his sexist comments against Megyn Kelly or as soon as you quote a line from Wollstonecraft – which you did not even bother to actually read, by the way – and post it as your Instagram caption. Being a feminist, ideally, is a life-long commitment which should, unquestionably, be the universal norms everyone conforms to. And everybody should be one.
I imagine that one day; civilization would progress to the point when we get to call people out for not being a feminist instead of singling out those who are – as is arguably the case today. This is why I believe that the end goal should be to stop being a feminist. Not because being a feminist is a bad thing, not at all, but because as long as we “have” to be a feminist, it means that the world remains the same: full of misogynistic and sexist views, gender biases, discrimination against people of different sexual orientation and gender identities, restrictions against gender expressions, and all those outrageous things that appall us. I figure the moment we get to stop explaining to everyone else why and how we’re a feminist, we may finally get to ask people why they are not one for a change.
Now I’m pretty sure that many are dismissing me as an unrealistic delusional self-proclaimed feminist who knows nothing. And you’re probably not wrong. But isn’t it exhausting having to constantly defend yourself against people who think that you aren’t normal because your views go against their narrow set of norms and indoctrinated beliefs? Or having to ceaselessly criticize the media and individuals for writing or saying something ignorant against people who don’t fall into their zone of conformity? Or having to explain to your parents, friends, and strangers that just because you don’t find discussing about sexuality and gender or standing up against demeaning patriarchal norms to be taboo or even forbidden, doesn’t mean you’re an immoral hypersexual liberal pervert who is obsessed with sex.
For me, at least, it is exhausting.
And as much as I cherish the opportunities to talk about these things, I want it to be more of a casual thing to do. Not something that is “too intellectual” that some people are allergic to or something that chases people out of the room before the discussion even begins, because they feel uncomfortable talking about penises and vaginas and breasts and everything else that goes beyond the physical dimension of it.
That actually brings us to another problem. It isn’t a secret that a considerable number of feminists feel as if being a feminist granted them the rights to label those who disagree with them degrading adjectives. They mean well, but that’s the thing: everybody means well. The difference is that some people are gracious about it, taking their time trying to inform non-feminists why they should be one while some others can be super obnoxious about it. Instead of informing people, they help cementing this idea that feminists are merely a bunch of millennials who look down on everyone else because they’re so full of themselves.
So, yes, I am deadly serious when I say that we should all stop being feminists who have to explain why we are what we are. Instead, we should hold those who are not feminists accountable. Being a feminist should be the new normal, despite my reservations about anything that starts with the word “norm.” Some people seek higher power to find comfort in life, but people like me aim to actually empower ourselves, and ideally others, without having to deal with the limitations that are there just because they have always been there; not because they are there.