What is Feminism?

A big, BIG disclaimer here: I am an upper-middle-class white cis female. I am quite aware of my privilege. I want the same privilege for everyone else.

I've been reading a lot of feminist material lately and following a lot of feminists on Twitter - one more reason to love it. Now, I'm not strictly speaking a True Feminist - I have not yet been involved, for example, in some infighting. Neither have I taken any classes on it. I haven't even read the seminal works of feminism, poor ignorant thing that I am - for I was never aware of them. I used to think that all the major struggles for women's equality were over and that feminists were just strident science-haters.

I was an idiot when I was younger, OK?!

My views changed right about when I started connecting with actual feminists and found that no, they didn't hate history, science or men - they hated being objectified. I started to warm up to them.

I can't remember the exact day when it hit me. But it hit me hard.

Some way or another, I ended up having an epiphany about just how horrible society was and just how far women still had to go. I realised that women were seen as sex objects, not as people, and that this objectification permeated society. I realised that women were being made to feel like dirt because they couldn't please men, couldn't conform to the kyriarchal standards of our culture.

That pretty much stopped me from being an anti-feminist. It also made me a lot more happy and secure when I realised that I didn't have to focus my existence on making myself into an object of pleasure for white cis men. Now, like I've said, I'm not a True Feminist - I'm a girl trying to muddle through life being my own person, not somebody else's sex toy. But since there's no Grand High Council of Feminists who dictate what feminism means to people (OK, there might be - I'm genuinely not sure -, but I'm not going to listen to it because I'm stubborn like that), I might as well explain my own interpretation of it.

To me, feminism is "the radical notion that women are people". I can't remember who said that, but it's an excellent quote.

Not enough words for you? Fine, fine...

...To me, feminism is not having to conform to a male-oriented standard of attractiveness and instead being happy just the way I am. If I want to have a nose job or dye my hair, I'll do it on my own terms - not because I think I'm unattractive to white cis men.
...Feminism is being able to say and do what I want without people putting it down to me being emotional or hysterical.
...Feminism is when I don't have to go about hearing how women are emotional and men are logical. I want to study theoretical physics, thank you very much, and I would like it if you left my sex and gender out of it.
...Feminism is being able to define my sexuality and be sexual on my own terms, not those defined by white cis men.
...Feminism is being able to go about my daily business without having men trying to intimidate me by talking about drugging and raping me.
...Feminism is being able to have my views and opinions judged on their own merit, not discounted because I'm female.
...Feminism is when it's unacceptable, unthinkable even, to have men treat women like dirt just because of their sex and gender.
...Feminism is being able to control my own body.
...Feminism is being able to respectfully disagree with a man without him threatening to beat me senseless.

For the record, feminism (to me at least) does NOT mean being racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-intellectual, misandrist, or anything else. And to address the sceptics, everything on that (admittedly short) list has happened to me.


  1. Nice post. Personally, percieving myself as a feminist was a very gradual change - one that rose from being submersed, since childhood, in women who were single mothers, or were being beaten by their partners, or were being constantly cheated on - yet blamed feminism for all their problems, from men not giving up their seats for pregnent women on buses to severe domestic abuse.


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