Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,
Spacefem
spacefem

the label

So... a few days ago I made an entry about women I work with and how they don't like the word "feminist", and most of you replied that it should be okay, they obviously support equal rights and we should dump the label, it's a pain. I got me to remember something about myself and labels.

I used to say that I was not pro-choice or pro-life, I was both.

Because I think abortion should be legal, I think it's necessary sometimes, I don't want to live in a world where I get investigated for a miscarriage. But I also think abortion is a horrible thing that should be avoided. So I since I wasn't pro-abortion, I figured I was pro-life. Then one day a little voice in my head said to me, "Abortion is a hugely political issue right now, and your politics are about choice. Every time tell people you're not pro-choice and why, you're also telling them that pro-choice means pro-abortion and that's why you refuse to identify with it. You're telling them that you think pro-choice people love abortions and want to encourage everyone to have them, even though you know that's not true. You want to act like you're above all these labels because you don't need a flag to fly under, but you're hurting the things you care about most, just for your own image."

and since I realized that, I've been pro-choice.

I've always called myself feminist. My reasons have evolved but the label has always been there. And sure, if you really think we can face our culture's fucked up gender issues WITHOUT focusing specifically on women, you don't have to call yourself a feminist. And if you think that the situation for women in this world is just as bad as it is for men, you don't have to call yourself a feminist. If you think we should just work to improve the lives of everyone in countries where there's no consequence for treating women specifically like property, owning them, raping them, abusing them, and you think that we don't need feminism as a specific discipline to pay attention to those facts, then you don't have to call yourself a feminist.

But if you don't call yourself that because you think the label isn't cool, or you something about the movement once alienated you, or you don't feel like contributing to discussions about what it should be or contributing who you are to the spectrum of feminism... you're just hurting it. You're focused inward, thinking you can support this big concept of "equal rights" without ever drawing attention to yourself by pointing a finger at one privileged gender.

Being a feminism doesn't mean you have to give up on saving the whales or feeding the homeless or improving things for men, it's just a tool. It's a lens that gives you the power to look at the world to see what it's specifically doing to hurt women. You can tell yourself that you can look through one big colorblind, genderblind lense and see the world's problems, but it's hard to fix something that you won't let yourself focus on. If you believe that cultures around the world are set up to favor men, then the only way to fix that imbalance is to pay special attention to women. Paying attention isn't easy on an individual basis. You can't go to Somolia. Paying attention takes a movement.

And movements take labels.

And that's why I call myself a feminist.
Tags: feminism, pro-choice
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