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Home » Culture and Criticism

Yes, You Are

Submitted by on September 30, 2003 – 2:41 PM158 Comments

feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests — feminist n or adjfeministic adj

Above, the dictionary definition of feminism — the entire dictionary definition of feminism. It is quite straightforward and concise. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not ask for two forms of photo ID. It does not care what you look like. It does not care what color skin you have, or whether that skin is clear, or how much you weigh, or what you do with your hair. You can bite your nails, or you can get them done once a week. You can spend two hours on your makeup, or five minutes, or the time it takes to find a Chapstick without any lint sticking to it. You can rock a cord mini, or khakis, or a sari, and you can layer all three. The definition of feminism does not include a mandatory leg-hair check; wax on, wax off, whatever you want. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not mention a membership fee or a graduated tax or “…unless you got your phone turned off by mistake.” Rockefellers, the homeless, bad credit, no credit, no problem. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not require a diploma or other proof of graduation. It is not reserved for those who teach women’s studies classes, or to those who majored in women’s studies, or to those who graduated from college, or to those who graduated from high school, or to those who graduated from Brownie to Girl Scout. It doesn’t care if you went to Princeton or the school of hard knocks. You can have a PhD, or a GED, or a degree in mixology, or a library card, or all of the above, or none of the above. You don’t have to write a twenty-page paper on Valerie Solanas’s use of satire in The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and if you do write it, you don’t have to get better than a C-plus on it. You can really believe math is hard, or you can teach math. You don’t have to take a test to get in. You don’t have to speak English. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism is not an insurance policy; it doesn’t exclude anyone based on age. It doesn’t have a “you must be this tall to ride the ride” sign on it anywhere. It doesn’t specify how you get from place to place, so whether you use or a walker or a stroller or a skateboard or a carpool, if you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not tell you how to vote or what to think. You can vote Republican or Libertarian or Socialist or “I like that guy’s hair.” You can bag voting entirely. You can believe whatever you like about child-care subsidies, drafting women, fiscal accountability, Anita Hill, environmental law, property taxes, Ann Coulter, interventionist politics, soft money, gay marriage, tort reform, decriminalization of marijuana, gun control, affirmative action, and why that pothole at the end of the street still isn’t fixed. You can exist wherever on the choice continuum you feel comfortable. You can feel ambivalent about Hillary Clinton. You can like the ERA in theory, but dread getting drafted in practice. The definition does not stipulate any of that. The definition does not stipulate anything at all, except itself. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

The definition of feminism does not judge your lifestyle. You like girls, you like boys, doesn’t matter. You eat meat, you don’t eat meat, you don’t eat meat or dairy, you don’t eat fast food, doesn’t matter. You can get married, and you can change your name or keep the one your parents gave you, doesn’t matter. You can have kids, you can stay home with them or not, you can hate kids, doesn’t matter. You can stay a virgin or you can boink everyone in sight, doesn’t matter. It’s not in the definition. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.

Yes, you are.

Yes. You are. You are a feminist. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. Period. It’s more complicated than that — of course it is. And yet…it’s exactly that simple. It has nothing to do with your sexual preference or your sense of humor or your fashion sense or your charitable donations, or what pronouns you use in official correspondence, or whether you think Andrea Dworkin is full of crap, or how often you read Bust or Ms. — or, actually, whether you’ve got a vagina. In the end, it’s not about that. It is about political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and it is about claiming that definition on its own terms, instead of qualifying it because you don’t want anyone to think that you don’t shave your pits. It is about saying that you are a feminist and just letting the statement sit there, instead of feeling a compulsion to modify it immediately with “but not, you know, that kind of feminist” because you don’t want to come off all Angry Girl. It is about understanding that liking Oprah and Chanel doesn’t make you a “bad” feminist — that only “liking” the wage gap makes you a “bad” feminist, because “bad” does not enter into the definition of feminism. It is about knowing that, if folks can’t grab a dictionary and see for themselves that the entry for “feminism” doesn’t say anything about hating men or chick flicks or any of that crap, it’s their problem.

It is about knowing that a woman is the equal of a man in art, at work, and under the law, whether you say it out loud or not — but for God’s sake start saying it out loud already. You are a feminist.

I am a feminist too. Look it up.

September 30, 2003




  • Kristin says:

    This is amazing. I am guerrila-posting it everywhere, with a link back to the site. A-freaking-mazing.

  • Stefanie says:

    4 years later and still amazing. I am printing this out and giving it to my 14 year old daughter, and 16 year old son.

  • Michiewah says:

    Sars, you have to be one of the most intelligent and insightful writers I’ve ever encountered.

  • Amy Marshall says:

    This IS great… the only thing I would say, as I contemplate forwarding this to my mother, who describes herself as “post” feminist because she likes men and hates the political agendas of most high-profile feminists, is that the audience for this piece does indeed skew towards the ‘in’ crowd, younger and familiar with young feminism, due to the jargon and popcultural references. My mom doesn’t know the magazine Bust and I bet she hasn’t read Andrea Dwarkin. But the message is powerful.

    Also, I want to forward this to men I know, but the ‘you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist’ message is a swallowed up a bit. But again, it’s a powerful thing to say: feminism isn’t ‘women are better’ it’s ‘both are equal’, something that helps everyone, boys as well as girls…

    But thanks for this…

  • Sars says:

    Well, that’s the point of the piece. You don’t have to know who those people are.

    I would have made the “men can be feminists too” message more prominent, but men aren’t the ones who tend to outright deny being feminists because they think people will assume they’re humorless and strident as a result.

  • marg d says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for this, as one who has proudly called myself a feminist for years because, to paraphrase Rebecca West I did things that differentiated me from a doormat, I am constantly frustrated by the women who back away from describing themselves as feminist.

    It is simple, it is a definition that we need to be reminded of, so thank you. Alos how lovely that it was drawn to my attention by my absolutely daughter.

  • Tallulah says:

    Yep. I remember reading this way back when and forwarding it to every woman I know . . . might just do that again.

  • Elise says:

    I find the term “feminist” problematic, and I tend to avoid using it to describe myself. Not because I think it has unsavory associations or because I don’t consider myself a proponent of (and crusader for) equal rights, but because I think it’s outrageous that the belief that men and women should have equal access to opportunities needs a LABEL. Shouldn’t that just be a given? By labeling it, one perpetuates the idea that this is some kind of radical, fringe ideology — or, hell, an ideology at all. Belief in equal rights is about as non-ideological as you can get. So, no, I don’t call myself a feminist, but I make my views clear, including explaining why I avoid the label “feminist” (I’m a linguistic anthropologist studying gender, f’rgod’ssake — didacticism is pretty much a given). After all, the content of “feminism” is far more important than the title.

    I still agree with the main argument of the essay, however, which I interpret as being that you can ascribe to popular standards while simultaneously questioning them.

  • Elise says:

    Yeah, that should have been SUBscribe, not ascribe. Teaches me to hit “submit” without re-reading.

  • Jennie says:

    Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Still my favorite, essay.

  • Flannery says:

    4 years later and I’m still posting this link around. It pops in my head whenever anyone says “I’m not a feminist, but …”

  • Michelle says:

    Fabulous essay that has stuck in my head for years, one that I refer people to, and did so just this afternoon. Thanks again.

  • Daniela Martinez says:

    Elise, I have to say that I completely agree with what you wrote. I don’t believe in the necessity of a LABEL in order to advance the notion of the equality of women, nor to to describe myself in the view of others. In fact, I fire up whenever somebody tries to tell me who or what I am- and isn’t that what the writing is trying to do, in a way? Isn’t that what women have been fighting against for years? Against others telling them who they are, and what they are capable of doing? The reality is that we live in a world where certain things ARE necessary in order to achieve betterment for one self, whether one is a woman or a man. Don’t actions- such as becoming an educated, socially and aware woman with the potential to enact positive, effective change in the environment around you- speak louder than words and labels? If one wishes to be called a feminist, then so be it. I respect other women who consider themselves feminists. But personally I refuse to subject my own identity to a label.

  • Ragon says:

    Elise and Daniela–while I understand your point, the reason I find this essay and the message behind it so powerful is because the belief that men and women deserve equal rights is unfortunately NOT a “given” for everyone in our society in general. I wish it was. But it’s not, yet. So therefore, we do need a label for the work that still needs to be done–that label identifies the fact that there IS more work to be done. Actions do speak louder than words, but the act of labeling myself a feminist is an action to me, not just a word. It says that not only do I believe in the equality of the sexes, I don’t think we have yet achieved equality of the sexes. Yes, no one should tell me who I am and what I am capable of doing but until our society reaches a point where my gender is no longer a factor in how I am weighed and judged but only my abilities, actions and deeds are the factor, then feminism and calling myself a feminist is still neccessary. And until my abilities, actions and deeds are no longer hemmed in and restricted by the narrow box of societal gender roles, then feminism and calling myself a feminist is still neccessary. Perhaps someday I will no longer need that label and I can hang it up with pride, but until then, wearing it shows that I acknowledge the work yet to be done.

    *steps of small soapbox*

  • Yes, but what does equality mean? How do you bring it about? What laws should be passed? What cultural norms need to be changed? What are those cultural norms? Who says those are cultural norms and not innate biological differences?

    The answers to all those questions are important and Feminists have specific answers to them, answers that a lot of people who think that men and women are “equal” in a general sense don’t agree with at all.

  • Brighid says:

    I always wonder about people who refuse the label “Feminist” on the basis that they don’t like labels. Do they also refuse to label themself a Republican, a liberal, an American, a woman, a wife, a doctor? I mean, why should those labels matter any more “feminist”?

    Maybe some person out there does eschew all labels but unfortunately, most people I know who shy away from the “feminist” moniker on the basis of hating labels, only apply it to that particular label.

  • Oni says:

    Lance, yes, women and men are biologically different. Do those biological differences justify a woman working the same job as a man and receiving less pay? No, no they do not. Sexual dimorphism, while it exists, is Not. An. Excuse. Sorry, you fail.

  • Margaret says:

    Rock on. This brought a smile to my face. Thank you!

  • Johanna says:

    Which dictionary are you quoting? I would like to track down the citation.

  • Sars says:

    Merriam-Webster Eleventh Collegiate.

  • Chrisssie says:

    Thank you for saying it better than I ever could.

  • Anon says:

    You only address the first definition though. I know plenty of people who in general believe in the equality of sexes but say they aren’t feminists because they are referring to the second part of that definition. When I’ve looked up feminism in other dictionaries I’ve gotten the second definition more often than the first.

  • Michael says:

    Wait a minute!

    I’ll go one up on Anon, immediately above. What’s going on? What does the definition have to do with the rest of your (inspiring) essay? Don’t the two flatly contradict each other?

    1) Feminism is the “theory” of equality. Okay. So a feminist might be a theorist of equality.
    2) Feminism is an “organized activity.” No, someone who “believe[s] in, support[s], look[s] fondly on, hope[s] for” equality is not a feminist.

    Faith isn’t enough, Mirriam-Webster says. You need works, too.

    I don’t object to your sentiment, Sars; I always thought I was a feminist, even without “organized activity.” But this definition doesn’t fit that notion at all.

    Am I missing something here?

  • Sars says:

    Maybe it’s I who’s missing something here, since I’m not really understanding the combative tone, either in this comment or in the blog entry where I’m “called out” for this piece.

    Whatever the case: the point of quoting the dictionary definition had everything to do with what said definition does NOT contain. The problem I was trying to address in “Yes, You Are” was the tendency of some women to conflate “feminist” with “humorless, man-hating, easily offended frump who loves the Indigo Girls and braiding her leg hair,” which as you can see is not anywhere in the definition. Nor does the definition specify that you have to be white, or educated, or of a certain social class, or any of that.

    Does feminism mean faith or works? That’s a good question. I don’t think #2 excludes or supersedes #1, or vice versa; I don’t think that’s the right way to look at it. But again, I wasn’t trying to frame the definition as a user’s manual, or a charter; I was trying to do the opposite of that, trying to show that the *dictionary* definition is not limiting in the way that the *social* definition or conception could sometimes (and in my view mistakenly) be.

    As far as this goes: “I know plenty of people who in general believe in the equality of sexes but say they aren’t feminists because they are referring to the second part of that definition.”

    I…don’t buy that. That reads to me like they say they aren’t feminists because they don’t want anyone to think they’re uptight ball-busters who don’t think jokes are funny — but they ALSO don’t want anyone to think they don’t have the balls to claim the label. You know? I mean, I’m sure people exist who have split that hair and prefer to call themselves “humanists” or whatever the hell, but life is kind of too short to be reviewing the fine print for people all the time. Either you think women should be accorded the same rights as men, or you don’t. If you do, you’re a feminist. So, I guess I don’t think you need works as well as faith. Maybe that doesn’t match the definition, so I suppose you’ve “caught me.”

    From what I’ve seen, evidently you have some objection to the way “Yes, You Are” is quoted or referred to elsewhere…that, I can’t help, obviously. I think you’ve raise an excellent question, but I can’t help feeling like you’re more interested in bringing me down a peg than in unpacking the wording.

  • Sars says:



  • badteeth says:

    Still there is guilt by association. Whatever the dictionary says doesn’t really matter as much as peoples’ perceptions. While they might agree with everything in the definition they still might not want to identify themselves as feminists because they don’t want to associate with the indigo girl listening, angry, humorless, hairy, man-hating pariahs who do identify themselves as feminists whether anybody asks them or not.

    Or altenrately they might not agree with some of the more wild-eyed rhetoric of “feminist leaders” and not want to be in the same movement as them.

    I keep seeing posts like this on blogs and I think you’re flogging a dead horse with this soft-sell. This isn’t going to solve feminism’s pr problems.

  • Annie says:

    This is one of the most important posts in the Feminist Blogosphere. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Who said it’s supposed to solve all the problems? It’s not going to end female genital mutilation, decrease the pay gap or grant women abortion rights, but it might just make a reader who is kind of there, but not quite, realise what feminism is all about.

    I know it’s helped me explain to people what feminism is, and as a result gotten several people into it who would not have identified with it for various reasons. So, does it serve it’s purpose? a resounding yes.

    Of course, if somebody’s so strongly anti-feminist that they can’t see sense, it’s not going to change them. Even this essay can’t work miracles. :)

  • Rick Moen says:

    This inspriing little essay, recently pointed out to me, is an absolute gem, expresses what I’ve been meaning to say for a long time, and has just been hyperlinked from my personal page with anchor text “I’m proud to be a feminist. Yes I am.”

    So, thank you, Sars. I couldn’t have said it better. I once did try, though, for whatever it’s worth:

    Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Contra Costa County, California, one of our best local politicians, Sunne McPeak, then a county supervisor, came to speak at the local NOW chapter’s summer outdoor gathering at Todo Santos Plaza, Concord. She started out: “I’m pleased to come speak at the local chapter of the National Organization of Women.” {pause} My baritone came wafting over from the back of the audience: “That’s ‘for Women’.”

    Rick Moen

  • Hannah says:

    Rick, that’s gold.

  • ikm says:

    “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    Instead of qualifying what kind of feminist I am, I try to be the feminist I want others to think of when they hear “feminist.” ;)

    Great, powerful post.

  • aleprechaun says:

    I just linked to this post for the SECOND time from my journal. It should be read by all :)

  • Lynn says:

    I came here to re-read this tonight after a very irritating conversation that pitted me against several ‘I’m not sexist,but’ men. My instinct was right, it did make me feel better.

  • ferretrick says:

    First of all, I love this essay.

    I find it interesting, Sars, that you say that the point of the piece was to point out what the definition does not contain, and that the sentiment was directed at “some women [who tend] to conflate “feminist” with “humorless, man-hating, easily offended frump who loves the Indigo Girls and braiding her leg hair.”

    I had always interpreted this a totally different way-I thought it was directed at a certain type of so-called feminist who adopts a more-feminist-than-thou attitude. The kind who would never accept that I, as a man, could be a feminist. The kind who think if you haven’t read Susan Faludi, or don’t subscribe to Bust, or think the Indigo Girls are overrated, or are pro-life, you cannot possibly also be feminist. I interpreted it as condeming that kind of divisive attitude. Can you comment on that perspective, Sars? Do you think that’s a valid interpretation of what you wrote or was I totally misunderstanding your intention?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It’s both: the definition does not contain anything but what it contains, so the feministier-than-thou type who thinks everyone who uses applicator tampons is part of the problem, while she is annoying, is still a feminist if what she wants is equality for women. So is a woman (or man) who has a horror of that sort of person, if she (or he) believes in equality for women.

    The essay was, originally, directed primarily at…well, for one, famous women who would make sure to say in interviews that they weren’t feminists, which frequently came off as their not wanting anyone to think they were gay. This is a whole ‘nother discussion, given that it’s 2008 and “gay” is really not something we should be classing as a negative anymore, but it speaks to a larger anxiety many women feel about not being “traditionally” feminine or womanly, and somewhere along the line, the word “feminist” became associated culturally with “unattractive.” Manly, hairy, humorless, and the rest of it. And the far political right exploited that association, that if you identify as a feminist, you’re a ball-busting, fat/ugly dyke who’s only carping on equal pay because you can’t get a man. (Or because you’re a slut…sometimes the right doesn’t seem to know how sexuality actually works. Maybe if they addressed their desires outside of public bathrooms, we could adjust the level of discourse.)

    The essay came primarily from my frustration that it seemed to be working — that that association had become dominant in the culture, or seemed to have. But earlier in my life, I didn’t identify as a feminist either, this bugged the shit out of my mother, but it was because of the exact feminist-agenda stuff you cite, which I felt didn’t have anything to do with…anything, really, at times. I did believe in equality for women; I just didn’t want to get bogged down in whether you spell it “women” or “womyn,” but my point cuts both ways with that — you can think that argument is a waste of time and be a feminist. And you can think that argument is critical and be a feminist. It’s like being pregnant; either you is or you ain’t, as my dad would say.

    In other words, the idea was to take back the definition — back to the basics. It doesn’t belong to the you-so-ugly scare tactics of the right; it doesn’t belong to the “go rad or go home” left, either. It doesn’t belong to anyone; it just is. You believe women should have the same chances, standards, and pay, you’re a feminist.

  • Caitlin says:

    Sars, I used to read TN every damn day and I’ve kind of fallen out of touch with it now, but when I saw a 20-something woman on one of my blogrolls say that she didn’t consider herself a feminist my first thought (after “Oh, sweet Jesus”) was, “Man, where’s my link to ‘Yes, You Are’?” This is the single best piece of writing on the subject I’ve ever read. I actually get frustrated when I have to have this conversation with people in meatspace, because no matter what I say it will never compare with getting someone to read what you’ve written here. So, thank you, so much. Well roared.

  • Bethany says:

    Finally someone who makes sense about these things! Feminism comes in all different shapes and sizes! I’m tired of all the women who say that a true feminism is like an Alice Paul clone. I love Alice Paul and what she has done for us women everywhere. But feminism is like women everywhere! We are different, we look, act, and feel different! We as women have the right to act the way we want, and believe what we want!

  • Becky says:

    This is awesome! I have never seen this site before…Now one of my favs!

  • eva says:

    I think Gloria Steinem said sometrhing like: “If I wasn’t a feminist, I’d be a masochist.” Makes sense.

    And plenty women are – self-loathing. It’s in the training. Funny though if you ask someone do you believe in equal pay for equal work or in equal opportunity at education, everyone will say yes. But the feminist word has been stolen and spun, just like the word liberal.

  • Priya says:

    Holy shit. I was linked over here through a comment on and this essay rules. I have been thinking these things forever and never knew how to explain myself. Now I do…with a link to this page. Hahaha. Thanks so much. However long ago this was written; this is excellent work. Just excellent!

  • CR says:

    Awesome! This will clarify a great many things for a great many people. I’ve anonymously attached it to the bulletin board at work, and proudly to my own fridge.

    Very very well said.

  • R says:

    I know Sarah won’t see this, but what she wrote here:

    “And the far political right exploited that association, that if you identify as a feminist, you’re a ball-busting, fat/ugly dyke who’s only carping on equal pay because you can’t get a man. (Or because you’re a slut…sometimes the right doesn’t seem to know how sexuality actually works. Maybe if they addressed their desires outside of public bathrooms, we could adjust the level of discourse.)”

    Ah, so glad to know feminism isn’t about labels! The original post is inspiring and I’d love for that to be true, but any time I’ve tried to be a part of a feminist blog/community that wasn’t specifically labeled as feminist-for-those-on-the-right, I’ve been accused of being blinded, hating myself and all women, etc.

  • Sarameg says:

    Ah, I was cleaning out bookmarks and rediscovered this. Sent it to mom, who raised me in ERA onesies and baby blankets and would quail, in her polite, no-nonsense way, at such sentiment as “but”. I had moments of “….but” and now I am so over them.

  • SayWhatYouMean says:

    I think it is very wrong and suspect that a “theory of equality” does not name itself “equalism” or “egalitarianism”.

    I have always preferred “egalitarianism”, personally.

    Perhaps there is a reason feminists do not like “equalism” or “egalitarianism”?

    (I’m not familiar with the history of the word egalitarianism so forgive me if I have missed some salient point in that respect. Perhaps it too has been tainted by some historical saga.)


  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It’s not specific to the problem, I think is the issue with those terms — not that feminists don’t believe in equality, but that the terms don’t specify who is seeking said equality.

    And of course there’s a lot of overlap; it’s a difference in focus.

  • MaggieCat says:

    I think that part of the problem is that those words don’t call attention to the specific problem, like Sarah said, but for me it’s also that *I* find the word “equal” as it’s been used by people in power to be highly suspect.

    When you can look at the Declaration of Independence and see that the people held in such high regard for founding the US could say “all men are created equal” in one breath and then clarify that only white, male, property owners are equal with the next and honestly miss the hypocrisy of their words, I at least start to notice just how vague that idea is. When I was a teenager I didn’t identify with the word feminist, not because I wasn’t or didn’t agree with it, but because I was genuinely naive enough to think it was almost done. Once I started paying attention, I realized how wrong I was right quick.

    Saying everyone is equal is a polite fiction that allows people to pay lip service to the idea that women are people too without forcing anyone to acknowledge the cultural inequalities that still run rampant: the wage gap, putting the victim on trial in rape cases, the dyslogistic speech that even many feminists use out of force of habit that holds things designated “feminine” as bad and “masculine” as good (a man should be insulted by being told he’s “being such a girl” (or woman), while I was meant to be flattered when a former boss told me I had “brass balls”– try and find a female centric version of that sentiment. No really, because I can’t), the fact that Warner Bros. could make a statement that “We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead” (yeah, they denied it eventually) effectively shoving half the human race into the background and yet the writer of that article is one of the very few people I heard express surprise. The law says all of that is wrong, but the culture supports it every day in a million little ways.

    I see no reason to help perpetuate someone else’s lies to make some people more comfortable. Half the battle in demanding change is winning the right to define the issues; “sure you can be equal, just don’t call it feminism” feels an awful lot like just another way to twist the issue towards something less threatening.

  • Bj0rnborg says:

    “It’s not specific to the problem, I think is the issue with those terms — not that feminists don’t believe in equality, but that the terms don’t specify who is seeking said equality.

    And of course there’s a lot of overlap; it’s a difference in focus.”

    But from this point of view, the initial definition is not right. Everyone belieiveing in equality is not a feminist. Only if you believe that only women are in need of societal changes to reach equality, only women are underprivillegd. Or more simply put; a gynocentric view on equality. In this view mens wants, needs and issues are not included.

    Third wave feminism has aknowledged that feminism historically has been colonialistic, it has be heteronormative. Intersectionallity has been introduced, still there has been no aknowledment of the most obvious problem with the above statement “If you believe in equality you are a feminist”. Most feminism is gynocentric, the very core, the very definitions of equality and the women issues are gynocentric with little or no understanding of mens issues. The very name; Feminism = equality, is gynocentric.

    “…it’s a difference in focus.”. Yes, there is. A better definition of feminism would be; the theory of equality between the sexes, from a certain viewpoint. (gynocentric). If this was aknowledged, the criticizers of some forms of feminism wouldnt be disregarded as sexists, reactionaries, conservatives and/or against equality. Because most arent. They just call it as they see it, as for instance, the wage gap; The major reason for genderrelated wage gap is not discrimination but a segregated work market. The most likely reason theres a segregated work market is our genderroles. Our genderroles are as limiting to both sexes empowerment, we have equal responisbility to try to do something about it. Call of discrimination = blame on men-as-a-group that is not theirs to have.

    This is an example of the sexist and female chauvunistic outcome of a gynocentric definition of equality. Observe: you as a person do not need to be sexist or misandric, you can unwillingly and unknowngly promote such notions since you base your ideas on a gynocentric perspective. This is basically the same as the black feminisms critique on the colonialistic, and the hbt movements critique on the heteronormative base in feministic ideas.

    I am a male. I believe there are both female AND mens issues that needs to be adressed. I believe that more often than not these issues are related, derived from our genderroles, they are usually two diffrent sides of the same coin. I also believe that if we dont move forward in unision, the sex falling behind will halt the other sexs progression aswell. Women are moving forward enmasse, overcoming many of their genderrelated issues en masse. It is time to aknowledge mens genderrlated issues as beeing equally important and let men evolve aswell. More love and compassion, less hate and misconceptions. It will be better for everyone.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    “Observe: you as a person do not need to be sexist or misandric, you can unwillingly and unknowngly promote such notions since you base your ideas on a gynocentric perspective.”

    I am not saying this is true of you, but…let’s say eight times out of ten, that argument, the “well, YOU’RE a sexist because the word ‘feminism’ implies that women are better” argument, is a deliberate attempt to put the focus on semantics, and to make women feel bad about sticking up for themselves, so then we’ll apologize, and try to find a term that makes everyone feel comfortable, and then the initial arguer doesn’t have to deal with her or his primary discomfort with the idea that women are still discriminated against based on our biology. Or that that state of affairs might one day no longer exist.

    Look at the date on the coinage: 1895. The birth of the term came at a time when we couldn’t vote. Our husbands owned us and could beat us at will. Also: corsets. A nice, everybody-hold-hands, we-love-men term wasn’t going to get it done.

    I’m not a sexist or a misandrist, but this is by far the most common ploy used to shut women up about being feminists — making us feel bad about maybe unconsciously hating someone, or being hypocrites. But that’s not what’s going on, usually. Usually it’s that someone ELSE is uncomfortable with the idea of us refusing to stand down on equal pay, subtle discrimination in the workplace, crappy mat leave and child-care set-ups that do nothing to help the working poor, the implication that pregnancy is destiny, or any of a hundred other injustices large and small that men simply do not have to think about most of the time if they don’t want to (and of course many men do, and are feminists).

    To put it another way, I for one am a feminist because I am beyond tired of the world telling me what I am based on my breasts. And you make some good points, but…you just did the same thing. The word “feminism” may make some people uncomfortable; that’s tough.

  • mary martha says:

    Someone directed me to this essay and it quite good. However I am still most assuredly NOT a feminist.

    It’s interesting that the reasons I reject the label ‘feminist’ are not included in this essay at all. I am not a feminist because of who I am and how feminists have treated me.

    I am a conservative, believing Catholic. In my experience those who self define as feminists are hostile to religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

    I am opposed to abortion. In my experience those who are feminists are not and they use this position as a ‘litmus test’.

    In the end it comes down to this… have feminists treated me with respect and kindness when I have dealt with them? The answer is no. Because of that I will not define myself as one of their group.

  • Kashira says:

    mary: Those kinds of people don’t sound like feminists to me, but people using the label to further their own specific beliefs or ideas which is bad whether that label is feminism or Christianity. (Those are examples; I’m not accusing anyone here, fyi.) While honestly I don’t agree with your viewpoints, you should still have the right to express them as openly and honestly as if you were a man. To me, and one of the points this article seems to make, that is what real feminism is.
    While those hostile people labeling themselves as feminists may have been hurtful and cruel to you, my point is there are other groups who have used an originally good label and corrupted it in the name of their own selfishness. There have been plenty of Democrats, Republicans, Christians, etc who’ve been childish and hurtful to people who disagree with them, but their actions shouldn’t and hopefully don’t speak for the core of the group.

    Wow this is long, sorry. I guess I had a lot to say.
    Anyway, great article! A lot of good points were made, and I’m glad to see there are some people out there who are tolerant and still uphold the true ideas of feminism.

  • Richard says:

    In that case i’m a femminist but there is one aspect i do disagree with. Men and women aren’t equal at certain things e.g. a woman tends to have a more empathetic nature than man therefore one could argue that a woman would make a better teacher/ mother/ counsellor etc. Men however have on average 4x the body strength of women. It could therefore be argued that on avergae men are superior in fields of work such as building/ soldiering/ athletism whilst women are superior over men in care work forms.

    P.s. all feminists: You are a feminist if you believe in the EQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN not if you hate men. You are then misandric which makes you scum.

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