Feminism is a difficult thing to nail down. The dictionary definition is that feminism is the belief that everyone deserves the same social, political, and economic rights, no matter their gender. But not all feminists agree on what rights women need, what priority those rights have, and how to go about attaining them. The stereotype of feminists is that they’re angry, man-hating lesbians with hairy legs. And sure, I bet some people who identify as feminists fit all of that criteria. But there is no one way to be feminist.
Openly identifying as feminist has lead to an unending battle of assumptions that I hate men, I want women to be the superior gender, I don’t care about men’s problems, so on, so forth. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that there aren’t feminists who believe this, but I am not one of them. My kind of feminism is a positive thing. I believe in intersectionality, in being sex positive, body positive, in fighting gender roles that oppress men and women, in being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, to make the world a better place by ensuring that 51% of the population are recognized as equals.
My feminism is very positive. I look at the progress that has been made already and acknowledge that there’s still a ways to go. I acknowledge that men have problems as well, but see that a lot of them are caused by the same patriarchy that oppresses women. I see gender roles as problematic for everyone and the abolition of them as freeing for all people. My kind of feminism wants everyone to be treated like an equal human being no matter their gender identity and have everyone be treated with compassion and fairness.
Now, are there feminists out there that don’t agree with me on any of those points? Yes. But it’s not logical to lump all of us in together in one group when we fundamentally disagree with so many important things. When you meet a feminist, it’s not enough to assume that they’re a positive feminist or a negative one. They believe in gender equality, but that doesn’t mean that their beliefs regarding it are fair, valid or balanced.
When it comes down to it, this is a complicated topic where no assumptions should be made. Although experience teaches us to expect certain things from certain people, this does not always hold true. A feminist can be someone like me that is rational and compassionate. But it can also be someone like a TERF that functions off of hatred and misunderstanding.
One thing that can be said for sure is that not all feminism is bad and not all feminism should be treated the same way. Although I identify as feminist, I don’t agree with TERFs and their idea that transpeople are not people. So clearly not all feminism is the same. But as I said before, not all of it should be treated negatively.
As much as people like to see things in black and white, the vast majority of things are shades of gray. Feminism is neither exclusively good or exclusively bad. Instead, it’s made up of what the individual feels and believes. It can be a potent force for equality and the betterment of society. But it can also generate hatred, misunderstanding and alienate the very people that it should be helping. When it comes to feminism, my feminism is a working towards a better future for everyone. It has nothing to do with prejudice or contempt.