I keep waiting for there to not be something that could be attributed as proximate cause for this post before posting it, but I suspect that’s never going to happen, so just trust me when I say that this is not in response to any particular thing, it just is what it is.
I don’t identify as a feminist. I don’t just “not identify” as one: I explicitly identify as “Nope, I don’t call myself a feminist.”
I’m female. I’m firm in my conviction that this doesn’t affect my ability to do anything much past piss gracefully while standing which, outside of very narrow circumstances, is an utterly valueless skill, and that I’m therefore entitled to all the same things as the people possessing those skills. I’m aware of the fact that this is not, in fact, how the world works and that there are a range of varyingly explicit systematic problems perpetuating the current state. I don’t get offended if people call me a feminist, and I’ve got some serious respect for the people who are adamant about wanting to reclaim the word from its current associations with radical man-hating boogeycreatures.
Here’s the thing: as far as I’m concerned, I’m an unmarked fully functional adult who goes through life doing pretty much whatever she damn well pleases. If you’ve got a problem with that I have two options.
1) I could label myself as a feminist to indicate my disagreement with your problem. Lots of people do, and they accomplish a lot of really good things by doing it.
2) I can point out that your problem with me going about my business as I have every right to reflects on you, not me, and instead of labeling myself, affix an appropriate term to you. Say, something civil and uncontroversial. Like, asshole.
I opt for option 2.
Both options have problems. The first isolates and segments off people who ought to be striving to be mainstream. The second makes it harder for like-minded people to find each other and have the conversations that need having and generally muddies the waters. There’s an assumption (valid but hopefully diminishingly so) in the first option that people who are down with equal rights across genders are not the norm. There’s an assumption in the second option that they are.
I’m not here to say we’ve achieved gender balance utopia. We haven’t. I’m not here to say we don’t have systematic problems where women get marginalized, undervalued, ignored, and taken advantage of. We do. What I’m saying is this: That shit is unnatural. I’m calling it out as such, rather than letting it define how I identify myself. It’s a calculated decision, meant to force reality into compliance with my assertion about how it should work. For me, this works extremely well.
It’s not enough on its own. It does nothing to address cultural assumptions that the default is male and the ramifications this has for women for everything from marketing to medical research without any individuals being explicit bad guys. We need people who spend their time digging into that, identifying problems and their sources, proposing solutions. We absolutely need a baseline assumption of what’s normal, but we’re not yet at the point where we don’t also need feminists.
Don’t look at me, though. I’m just a competent human adult, on the lookout for assholes.