Misconceptions about Feminism

So right now, I call myself a feminist. I might be dropping that label because of the racism, transphobia, classism, ableism, etc. of white feminists (who fuck up way more than I would like - and keep in mind I'm a white feminist). But still, for now I am a feminist.

And for now, I am a feminist who is quite sick of misconceptions about feminism and would quite like to do some edumacating about what feminism is and is not. So sit your arse down, get comfy and do some listening.

What is feminism?
Good question, that, and if I had the answer I'd tell you. I am a feminist in practice in that I try to live my life in a feminist way - stand up for all and smash the kyriarchy - but I have never taken a women's studies class or read some of the theory (bad Osnat is bad). As far as I can work out, feminism is a bunch of different movements all carrying the same banner and ranging from the average person on the street to the most diehard radfem. And yes, you get infighting...oh boy, you get infighting, as you'd expect from many disparate movements and organisations under one banner. As for different types of feminism, it would be best to ask them and not me, or better still, to hang around feminists. My kind of feminism - in other words, me making shit up as I go along - is that all women, cis, trans, whatever, are people and deserve to be treated as such rather than objectified, and that most people are oppressed on some axis or another in a network of intersecting axes of privilege (e.g. you can have white privilege but lack straight privilege, and the two do not cancel out because that's not how privilege works). Feminism tries to smash the institutional power of men over women (and of men over men, and of men over genderqueers, and of basically every privileged system...well depending on the kind of feminism it does, some are really bad for being oppressive...) and it does ask men to recognise and own their male privilege. I do recognise that saying "I have privilege" can be difficult - and also that that's an understatement - but the alternative of denial and digging yourself into a privileged hole only perpetuates a system that is ultimately shitty for everyone.

What is feminism not?
This is a much easier question to answer.

Feminism is not a free pass for women to do bad things and get away with it. This is just laughable. Never has been, never will be. Feminism does not excuse a woman, say, murdering someone.

Feminists hate men. I'd wager that most don't. Hate male privilege, yes, hate patriarchy and kyriarchy, yes, but not hate all men ever. I'd like to say "if they do, they're not true feminists", but that's not a value judgement I can really make.

Feminists want to emasculate men. Wait, what?! I don't think even the radfems have said this. I certainly don't. If I am against masculinity, I am against patriarchal masculinity - the masculinity that dehumanises everyone, including men, and thinks of compassion as weakness while distance, violence and manipulation are strength. Since I detest dehumanisation, I am against patriarchal masculinity. A masculinity without being manipulated or hurt is just fine by me.

Feminists think women are better than men. Uh...all I can say to this is that I don't, but I have an egalitarian streak. I'd also wager that most feminists don't think this either.

Feminists want a matriarchy. Again, I'd say most don't. Plus why would I want to create yet another oppressive system?!

All a feminist needs is a man to show her her place. Um...what?! That is disgusting. Personal anecdote time: I've had men try to lord it over me before (and worse). It didn't make me convinced that I needed to submit to a man, it made me angry and fearful and brought out my worst, most self-destructive impulses. And if you have any compassion - if you don't push it down and call it weakness - and any decency - if you don't rationalise it away - you will know just how wrong that is.

Aren't there things wrong with feminism, though?
Definitely. No movement is above criticism. It seems to be a movement of white, abled, upper- or middle-class cis women and that troubles me. You can legitimately attack feminism for that, but other things are just lies.