On unpacking the feminist baggage

Dear Dad,

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the Women Against Feminism posts going around. It’s become something of an internet sensation, whether you’re joining in, critiquing or supporting what these women are saying.

While some of the fallacies these women believe about feminism are saddening, I can’t say I’m too upset. See, I used to believe a lot of what they did. I was a teenage anti-feminist who thought that feminism meant hating men. Like writer Clementine Ford, I held many feminist ideals, but thought that feminism itself was a Big Bad. But I changed, so I’m hopeful for many of these women to change as well.

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At the same time, there’s a lot to be said about feminist baggage. Did you see the Facebook debate on my recent blog post about misandry? I had a friend comment that while most feminists don’t hate men, some do and it’s up to those of us who don’t to police them. Another friend came in and eloquently stated that while he doesn’t blame women for being resentful because of gender inequality, it is undeniable that the word “feminist” carries with it a lot of baggage. Some of that baggage comes from guys like Rush Limbaugh, while other baggage comes from people inside the movement too. This eloquent friend stated that this is why he shies away from labels.

Here’s the thing, though: I recognize that feminism has a lot of baggage. Hell, I was one of those Women Against Feminism when I was a teen, though I didn’t have the Tumblr to broadcast it, so I know full well all the reasons why a woman might not want to identify as a feminist. And I recognize that there are problematic people within the movement. There are feminists, I’m sure, who would not agree with every word I’ve written, just as I don’t agree with every other feminist on the planet.

But that’s okay. When it comes to feminists I don’t agree with (off the top of my head, trans-exclusive radfems are pretty bad), I argue and speak out against them and critique their work (see my Stonewall post).

But when it comes to people saying feminism oppresses men, or that it makes women into victims (which is sort of contradictory), or means that women can’t shave or wear bras, I will always stand up for feminism. I know it comes with baggage. I know there are people who will call me a feminazi. I’ve been labeled a slut, a prude, cold, bitchy, humorless. Those things are why it’s so important for me to accept the baggage that comes with the feminist label. And why it’s time to start unpacking that baggage.

Love,
Victoria

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