Why I Decided To Drop The Feminist Label
August 18, 2012 3 Comments
I think I will need that flame-retardant gear again…
So as mentioned in a previous post I have for the longest time self-identified as a Feminist for various reasons. But as with any label, I only keep it as long as it’s useful and feminism has outlived its usefulness.
The label Feminism has overstayed it’s welcome for me, the more I have read over the years the more I receded towards a small, insignificant niche inside the movement. Finally I decided that the label, the word, the concept, just isn’t useful to me anymore. That in itself wouldn’t really be a problem. Other labels like “skeptic” are also not really useful to me, yet I subscribe to them. It’s because I believe that labels like atheist, free thought or skeptic describe concepts that are in principle useful and sound, while I have discovered that Feminism doesn’t really fulfill these criteria.
Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist, I have not changed my core values, opinions or become a women hating misogynist.
I have decided that having both labels humanist and feminist is just awfully redundant, both concepts are supposed to lead us to equality and egalitarianism. One could think that there is no harm in subscribing to feminism and humanism at the same time, for feminism should be a subset of humanism focused on womens rights in particular. The danger however is that by focusing on one set of a population in particular, one loses track of the other side of the coin as well as creates a us-vs-them dichotomy.
I came to feminism naturally, through both a long tradition of matriarchy in my family as well as the general media-exposure of those issues. It felt ” the right thing to do”. Women were after all underrepresented and the patriarchy was “working them” hard every day. I never questioned the fact that women needed more rights and more protection.
My goals were always humanistic in nature but somehow over the years I lost all perspective, I stopped questioning the veracity of the claims made by feminists/women and just accepted them. I failed to see the other side of any argument centered around gender, assigning a-priori the “right” to women and womens rights.
Divorce rights? Yeah sure, of course the woman should have the custody to the children unless she is mentally ill or unable to take care of them. After all my parents divorced when I was 5 and my mother got custody of me, that wasn’t bad right?
My dad? Oh he fought for months against it, to no effect, after which the court blackmailed him to give up custody or else I would be transfered to a foster home till the lawsuit was settled (which could have taken years). My mother took me and left the country (Communist Poland) afterwards to live with her new lover and my soon-to-be stepfather in Germany. Later I learned how devastated my father really was over this, he genuinely thought he would never see me ever again. I mean take the context into consideration, Europe was still split in west and east, the Berlin wall still intact and martial law was in effect in Poland. Nobody could have even begun to imagine that I would be sitting in Sweden today, have Skype conversations with my father and mother, travel freely between countries on a drivers-license instead of Passports, Visas and Travel Allowances, pay next to nothing for air-travel (back in the day, car-travel could take up to 24 hours including customs at the border), pay with a unified currency and have universal rights in all countries as an European citizen.
Once I caught myself doing this I realized that I have done the one thing that I absolutely despise and rail against, accepting claims without evidence. I never scrutinized any claims to rights women had, nor did I consider the other side of the argument and how granting those rights will impact other human beings. I have just followed another religion instead of following a concept.
I had a lapse of judgment, but I’m better now.
I’m still for all the rational rights of women, and I think that we, as western society, have done a good job of implementing most of them in laws and societal norms. Misogyny, of course, still exists in many parts of the world (perpetrated, in part, by our best friend religion) and sexism also still exists in many parts of even our society, but it goes both ways and focusing exclusively on one gender will not solve the problem but exaggerate it. The fight for human rights and equality is far from over, but decisions can not be made from one side alone, and this side can’t dictate the discussion exclusively.
I also no longer subscribe to the concept of Patriarchy as it’s a concept subtle enough to be undetectable through scrutinizing evidence, yet powerful enough to be dictating lives of women. Furthermore it lacks any explanatory power in itself, it’s so vague that everything can and will be attributed to Patriarchy. In essence it behaves exactly the same as a conspiracy theory.
In conclusion the feminist movement seems less and less concerned about equal rights but rather exclusivity. If I say that feminism has radicalized I don’t mean to suggest that the radfem fringe has grown, I rather mean that feminism has long since reached most of its goals but still operates under its original assumption that women are overwhelmingly repressed. This is a serious problem. I think that most feminists genuinely mean well but have lost sight of what has been gained by them already. The Internet isn’t helping here where the “problems” of sexism are exaggerated and can give the appearance of a systemic problem that validates the patriarchy-conspiracy. However we should not forget that the Internet, with all its wonders, connects a staggering amount of people on the planet and 100 misogynist comments on your blog represent a tiny minuscule fraction of them.
But now I’m just rambling.
Bye feminism. Hello egalitarian humanism.