I understand that the title of this article might be misleading, but I do not see feminism as ‘man hating’ and I do not see feminism as wishing for superiority of men, because it’s not. I understand the definition of feminism as the manner of bringing up the rights of women to equal those of men, instead of equalism, as the bringing down of male rights to be at the equivalent level of female (I think we can all agree many men aren’t a fan of being removed from their pedestal).
No. I reject the label feminism because it no longer means equality to me. I reject it because it is commercialised, because I see the slogan ‘feminist’ splayed over the t-shirts and shoes of women walking through streets of the dominantly middle-class Harrogate. I reject it because that feminism isn’t my feminism. I reject it because I no longer want to hear white feminism, or about ‘pussy power’ – which only takes the focus off what it really means to be a woman. I hate that I know of ‘feminists’ that voted for Trump despite his racism, or voted for Brexit on the reasoning of ‘too many immigrants taking jobs’.
To an extent I came into the label ‘feminist’ at age thirteen as a result of my ‘liberal’ family and perhaps, as a result of that, being inherently socially left. Actually, I came into it because my dad proclaimed he was a feminist whilst telling me that women weren’t ‘meant’ for mathematics or managerial roles, and sitting with his hands behind his head while my mum picked up and cleaned every dish in front of him. My white, South African household didn’t teach me it was wrong to mock accents in primary school however ashamed of it I am now, or that I was better off than the people around me. So that feminism then was about me, which it shouldn’t be.
It isn’t my feminism because I used the label as a tool talking about ‘girl power’, because I used it to justify my anger that people treated me strangely despite being in a majority. Because in becoming a ‘feminist’ I wasn’t becoming aware of my platform, in fact I was becoming more ignorant of it.
In Year 11, I did a presentation, me, a white middle class girl, on what feminism is. I was wrong in how I did it, and I see that now. I cannot talk of intersectionality, because when I do I am acting as if I can understand what it is like to be treated as a minority (with the exception of my queerness I am not one). The whole presentation I banged on about ‘what is feminism’ and ‘why you should care about it’ whilst mentioning nothing on trans women, immigrants, and religious minorities. I was wrong because I used the label intersectional feminism to seem like I was shifting the focus away from white women, when the reality was I never did.
I reject the label feminist not because I have any right to from those women that have genuinely suffered, but because I only ever see it applied to the struggles of those that need it least. Because I’ve heard more about tampon tax (which, by the way, was abolished but keeps getting brought up) than I have heard on sex trafficking from ‘feminists’. It is not fair that I hear the middle class whine about paying for period expenses, when period poverty is the real issue.
I don’t think people should care about something because they should, or because most do, but because it is right and it is real. Then that feminism is maybe my feminism.
Because white feminists are hypocritical. There is nothing wrong with being a housewife, and there is nothing wrong with doing what you feel happy doing, despite their constant condescension. Feminism has had a history of discrimination and it should not be anymore, it should not be discriminatory.
Feminism shouldn’t be about me, or the people that look like me. And I wish when people identified as feminist, they researched, or if they believed about something so strongly they do something. Because I know I’m a hypocrite that I am complacent and do not help, so I reject that label. Because I am not feminist. I am just frustrated.
Written by Ria Davies