I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking and talking, lately, about whether or not to self-identify as feminist. I wrote a post about it, had a discussion on the atheism plus subreddit, and have had a number of discussions with friends about it. One such friend lent me a copy of “Feminism Is for Everybody”, by bell hooks, after we talked, which was a helpful introduction to some of the history of feminism as a movement.
My chief apprehension about identifying as a feminist has been that there are a lot of feminists who hold views I am entirely opposed to, most (but not all) of which fall under the bracket of sex-negativity. I generally like my labels to communicate things about me that are true, and in some cases I wasn’t sure feminism was a label that would do this.
That said, one of the nice things I got out of reading more history was a better understanding of the breadth of different views that have, at one time or another, fallen under the umbrella of feminism. While I was already aware that feminism is not a monolith, it took reading about its history for me to really appreciate how laughable the idea of anyone ever thinking of feminism as a monolith is.
It also made me realize something else: that feminism is, has to be, by its nature, an umbrella under which there are going to be a lot of different, contradictory views about how to get things done. It’s a broad net that covers a lot of different people, and the one thing most of them have in common is strong feelings about improving the world. It would be absurd not to expect such a movement to consist in large part of people who I have very strong disagreements with.
More to the point: if I were to wait to identify as feminist until feminism as a whole only represented views that I, personally, identified with, I would probably be waiting until the hard parts were already over.
So, I guess this is my way of saying I’ve decided to try on the label*. I think the fundamental principles that unite feminists are principles that I am entirely behind, and I am finding, with a better understanding and sense of historical context, that my reservations about the disagreements I have with some subsets of feminist thought aren’t the deal-breakers I thought they were.
Thanks to everyone who helped me mull this over.
*Feminist of the Third-Wave Persuasion