Feeling assailed by feminism
Posted by Mel Campbell on September 28, 2010
Basically, McGuire’s contention was that she doesn’t want to give much consideration to feminism, because in the past she has felt assailed and alienated by other women who called themselves feminists.
“This was the reason, I realised, that feminism, at least as I had encountered it, does not seem relevant to me. It has rules. Qualifiers. Hundred-year-old mottos that I am meant to apply to my own life.”
On one level, I totally get where she’s coming from. Several times in the past I have offered my honest opinions about women and have been greeted by a backlash from feminists whose views I found ideologically rigid.
I stopped posting on my personal blog for nearly four months after various people weighed in on this post, suggesting that I clearly didn’t love my vagina enough. (I’ve since switched commenting systems, so none of the Vagina Luv comments are there any more.)
And I stopped blogging at The Dawn Chorus for nearly a year after feeling as though the entire feminist blogosphere had turned on me because of this (admittedly, mischievously titled) blog post.
But these responses never led me to the conclusion that I wasn’t a feminist.
Here’s how I define feminism. It’s the belief that nobody should be denied dignity, respect or opportunities – personal or professional, in public or at home, as a citizen or in relationships – solely because of their gender. If you believe this, and you don’t like seeing people disrespected or disempowered because of their gender, you’re a feminist. That’s it. That’s the only rule. The only qualifier.
Most of all, feminism is not about consensus. Feminism is a personal commitment, and it’s worth pursuing even though individual feminists, and groups of feminists, may have vastly differing beliefs and engage in robust debate. Put it this way: men are not deterred from having convictions simply because not all men agree with each other.
I’ve felt assailed by feminists. I’ve felt personally attacked. I’ve felt crushed. I’ve felt ignored. But I have never abandoned my conviction that I am a feminist, or become less willing to point out and condemn gender-based inequity as I see it.