Why I can’t call myself a feminist

It is a shame but I can’t.  I like to think of myself as a forward thinking woman, and as a feminist but I can’t bring myself to be defined by that word.  I am fiercely supportive of women.   Like to stand up for women whenever I can.  Was inspired by women in Africa making a change for themselves and their families.

But call myself a feminist?  I am not sure I want to if I am brutally honest.

I listened to a really interesting piece on Woman’s Hour last week about feminism and on whether women calling in would call themselves a feminist or not.  And the more I listened, the more I realised that I couldn’t do it.   And I fear there may be a back lash for now admitting this.

A backlash like the lovely Kate recently got on her blog when she posted a lighthearted post about The Ten things they should tell you about having a girl .   It was a lighthearted,  jovial look at being a mum of a daughter.  Tongue in cheek.

What happened next was, quite frankly, despicable.   Women claiming that in the name of feminism Kate was vile.  That Kate should be ashamed of herself.  That Kate was a disgrace.   Were these “friends” of Kate’s?  People that Kate had interacted with on social media?  No.  They were women who had ganged up on Kate after a link to the post was copied onto a Facebook group with “look at this”.   Women then arrived on Kate’s blog to do nothing short of bully her.

Is that what feminism is about?  Is it about telling a woman how she should think?  What she should do?  Is it?  Is that why women chained themselves to railings?

No, I don’t believe it was.  I believe it was so women could have their voice heard.   Their voice.   Not the voice that somebody else tells them they should have.

I commented on Kate’s post, saying exactly what I thought about the actions of those anonymous women.

I always think it is a shame when so called feminists attack other women. They feel it appropriate to be rude and offensive to somebody they have never met. Just because one of their friends posted in a Facebook group and said “ooh look at this”, all sitting there being vile and then come here to launch an attack.

If that is what feminism is about well, count me out quite frankly.
I have two girls and as much as I didn’t stereotype them at the end of the day, given a choice, they wanted pink. They wanted Barbie. They wanted net princess drapes over their beds. Do I tell them no and demand they have blue and grow balls?
No. As a mother I respect THEIR wishes. THEIR opinions. I support what THEY want and I go with it.
Not ram my opinions onto them.
And I teach them that bullying other women for their thoughts and opinions is wrong and just that. Bullying.’

Kate has now kindly quoted that in her follow up post:  Pink is a Feminist issue — apparently

I stand by that comment.   Why should I be ashamed to have dressed my girls in pink?  Does it make me less of a woman because I cook my husband a meal every night?  Should I refuse to go through a door that is being held open for me by a kindly gent?

Yes I believe that women should be equal, that we should have the same rights as men etc.  Of course I do.   I have two daughters.  I am teaching them that they can stand up for themselves.  To fight for what they believe in.   That their sex should not be a barrier to doing anything.

But at the same time I am teaching them that bullying people, that trampling over another person’s views, that ganging up on others is wrong.   That it should never happen.

And certainly not under the name of feminism.

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  • Thank you for adding your support on this.

    I think if you put yourself out there on the web then you can’t complain too much if people start shouting you down with their own views, so I wasn’t too distressed by the reaction – to me though the pity is that women such as these are soiling the term feminist and belittling exactly what they are supposed to be supporting.

    ‘Equal but different’ I think is what I’ve taken out of this whole thing – and both should be celebrated.

  • I agree with you there. Someone once accused me of not being a feminist because I didn’t vote and Emily Pankhurst etc faught for women to have the right to vote. Rubbish! She faught for women to have the right to choose to vote! And that’s true feminism! Having the right to have you’re own personal opinion! So maybe we should stop talking about feminism and start talking about equality because that’s what we really want!

  • I tried to write a follow up post to Kate’s. My feelings are similar to yours, but you have worded it a lot more eloquently.

    Mine was a bit rambling with the starting point being that ‘ists are never a good thing.

    A comment on some good ‘ists had me laughing a lot.

    Those women who gang-blogged Kate did more harm than good for their cause and to call them trolls is to make them anonymous (which some people are doing) they are not, they are real women who decided to attack another.

    I’d rather love pink than not, if that’s the effect hating a colour has on oneself.

    Liska xx

  • “Some people who call themselves feminists are mean” is not really sufficient reason to not call yourself a feminist.

    You say “Yes I believe that women should be equal, that we should have the same rights as men etc.” If you also believe that this is currently not the case, and want to take action to try to make it be the case, then by my definition you are a feminist, whether you embrace the term or not.

  • Well said. I don’t see myself as a feminist for exactly the same reasons; people who seem to think they represent the cause are just demanded that women fit into a different box than the previous one, it’s not choice it’s just change.

  • I think you’re probably quite a bit younger than me. Regardless of idiotic-people’s rude reactions to a perfectly reasonable young woman who doesn’t despise pink (perfectly good colour – to hate it is to be..er.. pinkest, surely) I think that (deep breath, long sentence here) if you’d lived through the days when you had to ask your husband’s permission to get a contraceptive coil; to be told – as a teenager – that your mother’s signature on your passport form wasn’t acceptable: it had to be your father’s; to be refused a mortgage because ‘you might get pregnant’ and for your little brother to be given a fabulous insurance policy that would later buy him most of a house but which wasn’t available for you because you’re a gurrrl, then you’d DEFINITELY call yourself a feminist. Don’t let the bastards get you – they exist in all guises but they can be ignored. You support equality, ergo you are a feminist.

    • Thank you Judy. I think you hit the nail on the head, and that I have not had to live through those experiences. Had I have done then no doubt I would be taking a different stance. I hadn’t thought about your last point, maybe I am a feminist after all. But for now with a small f not a capital 🙂

  • His was exactly my problem with yesterday’s debate, and with a lot of mumsnetters. Women who gang up against and criticise other women without first attempting to understand, are not feminists, and they give feminism a terrible name. You, actually, are a much better feminist than they could ever be.