Reflections and non-feminists

A funny thing happened last week. I had decided some time ago that I was going to use this month to look back on the year and review some of what happened, but I hadn’t yet planned on the themes. At first, I was going to use this month as a free-for-all on the entertainment posts and book reviews, but then two things happened. First, I happened to select Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and then I watched Addams Family Values and had a mini-revelation about coming to terms with not being what society wanted as a child. I realized it wouldn’t be difficult to make the whole month about review and reflection on the whole journey as well as that of others. While it didn’t completely change my reading plans, it did help focus them. And it meant that I got to finally roll in Bossypants, which I had read back in September but never reviewed or mentioned. It also means that I’d like to call some attention back to Devotion and Defiance: My Journey in Love, Faith and Politics by Humaira Awais Shahid with Kelly Horan which reflected back on Shahid’s life as an advocate for women’s rights in Pakistan as well as Fragments of Gender: Anatomy is not Destiny by Lisa Lees which is Lees’ reflection on a life lived outside the gender binary. It also gives me another chance to read Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman and keep it in theme.

This is going to be an interesting time, and I’m looking forward to it. I hope you are too.


 

I’d also like to take a chance to reflect on the Women Against Feminism movement and the many covert or non feminists that I know. I like the idea of calling them covert feminists. You see, many of the women against feminism still seem to be for gender equality, they and other women I know who emphatically proclaim to not be feminists seem to want to distance themselves from the movement, not the concept. Okay, that’s cool.

If I am going to be a feminist, I need to support other women in a more recognizable way and on their terms, right? So, why not?  I will happily support those who I see as covert feminists in the ways they model the fight for gender equality, even when they deny it with their mouths. Believe it or not, I know plenty of women in person who deny feminism with their mouths and live feminist lives. They own businesses, work in male-dominated fields, and pioneer new places for women, but they are not feminists, so they say. They believe in equality in a marriage and at work, but they are not feminists.

To me, these things seem contradictory on the surface. Feminism is about choice and opportunity and that choice can be to not to use the label. I will choose to not force it down your throats too, but I will still refer to this group of people as covert feminists. I won’t identify them by name or anything, but that’s the best way to get the point across for me. They may not identify as a feminist, but they openly believe in gender equality. There is no substitute word. Egalitarian goes beyond gender equality, so it’s not quite right unless you believe in all those other types also and I’m not into assuming such things. It does seem reasonable that those believe in gender equality would believe in equality for all, but I’m sure there are exceptions.

Being covert is just fine. I’m only going to have an issue when feminist-bashing ensues, as it sometimes does. Instead, I invite the people who believe in gender equality but don’t like the current state of the feminist movement to take a second and think about letting us hold each other up. Let’s not bash each other based on labels. Let’s not compete with who is right and who should be doing what. Our choices don’t have to contradict each other. We all like different things, we can choose whatever makes each of us happy without interference. I also implore you to help those who are not able to make the choices they would like. These are women here at home who are stuck in destructive cycles of violence as much as they are women who are trying to reach that next wrung up the corporate ladder. These are also men stuck in those same cycles as much as men who are making choices that don’t  make them feel disposable to their families or society. These are people who cannot identify or express the gender they are and have an assortment of issues that includes identity and expression and a combination of women’s and men’s issues as well.

We can work together, but we have to stop the bashing and the competition. Ask each other what the choice is that we want and help if we can. Why aren’t we doing this already?

 


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