The Oversimplification of Feminism, And How It’s Destroying Us

2011. Sat in Gatwick airport, I found myself reading a quote from Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, in which Moran described how to tell if you’re a feminist.

so, here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina?

b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said yes to both, congratulations, you’re a feminist.

I’d been up since 3:30 that morning, left the house at 5:10, and travelled 200 miles with two suitcases, a grumpy three year old, and successfully manoeuvred the London Underground without falling into London Below. I think I deserved the groan which escaped me at this point.

See, the oversimplification of feminism is something that’s beginning to bug me. Well, I say “beginning”. It’s been annoying me since I took baby steps into the world of Feminism. You can own a vagina, believe you should be in charge of it, and not be a feminist. I’ll stick you in a room with any of my female relatives for half an hour, and my point will be proven. Do I think the women who accuse rape victims of lying are feminists? Hell no. Do I think women who try to enforce compulsory heterosexuality are feminists? Nope. So, obviously, Moran’s definition is a *little* too simplistic  to explain what feminism really is.

So, imagine my shock when a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a quiz which reduced feminism even further. ARE YOU A FEMINIST? it asked. “Well, duh…” I sighed. And so the quiz began.

Do you think all human beings are equal?

Are we all equal? Apparently, “no” was the wrong answer. But claiming we’re all equal is a lie. Women are still raped and abused by men, at horrific rates. So no, we’re not still equal. Infant girls are still murdered for the sole reason that they’re female. So no, we’re not equal. Last year, a two year old girl was rescued from a forced marriage, here in Britain. So no, crappy over simplistic “feminist” test, WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. I’m not sure I even want equality with a class who allows a global genocide of women. I’d rather we got liberation. But if your crappy little test wants to lie, and convince those would-be feminists that we’ve got equality, then you may as well pack up your pickets and head home. We’ll take the battle from here.

Anyway, head back and give the “acceptable” answer, the one which sounds remarkably like our beloved MRA’s bleating “but you already have equality!”, select a lie, and get to question number 2.

Do you think women are human beings?

Oh for sapphos’ sake. Even the most misogynistic men I know would answer “yes” to this. But if they treat women as humans is another question…

For me, the definition of feminism is a bit more complicated than either provided above. If you google the word “feminism,” the first definition given is:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.

As of yet, we don’t have equality to men on any of those grounds. So why are so called feminist lying to us? To me, feminism is about believing women’s histories, not telling our daughters that their value is only equal to the man they marry, about aiming to liberate ourselves, not only for now, but for our future. And it’s about remembering other women aren’t the enemy, no matter how damn much we disagree with them, no matter how much we believe they’re supporting the patriarchy. Supporting the patriarchy doth not an enemy make. It makes a victim. And to me, feminism is about saying we’ll fight for the liberation of those victims as well. Loosening the blindfold and untying their hands so they can find the power to escape with us.

Oversimplifying feminism lies to women, it harms us. It claims we already have equality, and accepts anyone as a feminist with no questions. It’s paths like this which see Femen and Hugo Schwyzer celebrated. It’s the oversimplification of feminism which tells us we don’t need those pickets, because everyone’s an ally. They’re not. We see feminist pages sharing Lennon quotes, whilst forgetting his abuse of women. We see the patriarchal lie shoved down our throats, force fed to us. “We have equality,” they claim. “EVERYONE is on our side,” they lie, using the lie that we have equality to allow further abuse of women.

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4 thoughts on “The Oversimplification of Feminism, And How It’s Destroying Us

  1. Frothy, I can’t express the impact your text has had on me. Thank you so much for writing this. I think the oversimplification of feminism is making the cause so diluted that I really fear for what is gonna happen in the future. One point that leaves me dumbstruck these days is how ready people are to label everything purely a matter of “choice”. I don’t know if you’ve already written about that (I’m new to your blog), but “choice feminism” is something that gives me the chills.

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