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Why label yourself a Feminist?

Postby spacefem » Thu Jul 3, 8:19 2003

Labels get us in trouble. They're used against us, and the world pins them on us against our will. So why would you willingly put one on yourself, especially one as powerful as the great F-word, "Feminist"? People are going to think you're a whiny, self-centered, liberal bent on killing babies, hating the world and putting men down, right? And besides, when you label yourself, aren't you agreeing to go along with whatever the other people with the same label believe in? Don't you stop thinking for yourself when you get a label?

These are common misconceptions, but they aren't true. I've labeled myself as a Feminist and I'm proud to declare it. I figured I'd outline some of my reasons for you today, so everyone sort of has something to think about. There are three major issues people have with Feminists, and none of these have any validity to speak of, as you'll see...

Why can't you just be a Humanist?
As always, everyone loves to say that feminists are self-centered. By calling yourself a feminist, you're ignoring the fact that there are starving children, political prisoners, endangered species and terrorism. I'm always amused by this because most of the feminists I know are actually very active in these other movements... they're willing to participate in a gay rights protest or donate to human rights organizations. These people who bring up the humanist argument, accusing Feminists of being self-centered, are never actually doing anything for human rights.

Being a feminist means caring for the world... by its nature, the feminist movement helps out many aspects of human rights. But fighting for the good of the world means you need some focus. You can't just march up to washington to ask it to "make things better"... they'll laugh at you (or call you a politician... I'm not sure which is worse). Making the world a better place means picking out details of what's wrong with it. In many countries, women are killed for having relationships with people their family doesn't approve of. This is an attrocity and we should tell our government not to support these countries. It doesn't mean we ignore every other crime these countries are guilty of, it just means we bring this one up. We make sure that the women's rights issues aren't ignored. We focus.

So the next time someone asks why you're not a Humanist, ask them what they do for a living. Are they a biologist? Damnit, that's what's wrong with the world! Do you think chemistry is just not important? Why can't you be a scientist? Maybe that'll put it into perspective for them. No movement gets anywhere without focus, and feminism is one aspect of the "humanist" movement.

So, You're A Liberal Man-Burning Bitch?
Another thing you should know about fighting for feminism is that the people we're fighting, especially in the United States, are ignorant, uneducated people. They want to think of things as very simple, and want to boil our movement down to one defining core. I'm surprised that people still do this though, since it's not possible with any label.

There is diversity in the Feminist movement just like there is in every other movement. By labeling yourself as a feminist you're supporting this diversity. You don't have to support abortion. You don't have to support Hillary Clinton. You don't even have to be a woman... millions of men call themselves Feminists. The only thing necessary is that you believe that women are people too, with minds and abilities equal to men's, and they should be treated equally in the eyes of society and the law. They should, like men, be encouraged to do what they want with their lives. They should, like men, have the right to a life of freedom and value no matter where they're born in the world. They should not be considered anyone's property. If they are raped, that rapist should be punished. If they are killed, the killer should be punished.

Yes, there are men who are raped and killed and we need to make sure that the criminals behind those events are punished as well. But there are hardly any countries where it's legal to do this. There are hundreds where no one is punished for raping and killing a woman... her husband and family are free to do what they will with her. It's terribly sad, but it's the truth. And it's the type of thing Feminism is about. You're free to deny whatever other beliefs people try to pin on your once you tell them you're a Feminist... they probably need you to set them straight. Not all Feminists are the same. And it's okay.

Why band together?
I love this quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "It's not that I condone facism....or any "ism" for that matter. "Isms" in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an "ism", they should believe in themself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles...I just believe in me. A good point there. After all, he was the walrus."

And it is a good point. When a large group of people decides that they need an official title (in this case, "The Feminists!") they can do a lot of harm to the world. Sometimes more harm than good, really. Every bloody war ever fought was fought by people under some flag or label. If everyone just laid low and believed in himself or herself, we'd be a lot safer.

But groups can do good for the world too. Rosa Parks did a lot for herself when she refused to sit in the back of the bus, but it was her group of people, gathering together and boycotting the Montgomery bus system, that changed the rules. One person can start something great, but it takes more than one person to finish it.

What we're dealing with in the world, and have been dealing with for a very long time, is gigantic inequality. It's going to take more than believing in yourself... it's going to take widespread culture changes. Sure, you're happy with your life. But what if you knew the name and face of the little girl in Idaho who wants to be an engineer but who thinks it's impossible because she's seen a female engineer in her life? If you just watch out for yourself, what kind of life will she have? Or what about the woman in Jordan who is abused by her husband but can't escape, because she can't legally leave the country without his approval? Who will watch out for her? Can one person do it?

One person can start something. One person can stand up and get the everyone's attention and make a huge difference. But the differences will be even stronger if we band together and recognize one another.

I don't believe in many -isms either. I'm careful about the ones I pick and I'm careful to represent them well through my words and actions. But I strongly believe that all people of the world should be free, and when there are so many in this one group who aren't, well, it makes me want to focus in and draw attention to it.

So I call myself a Feminist and deal with the consequences. I hope you can do the same.
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Postby thechocolatebanana » Thu Jul 3, 10:33 2003

This is the most amazing article I have read on this site, Spacefem. It encompasses what this site is all about, and what we're trying to do. It bands us all together, united against the unjustices of the world. It changes opinions, strengthens them, and does everything an amazing, empowering, and inspiring article should do. I'm especially partial to the issue about women in other countries being thought of as completely inferior to man, and sometimes not even being able to raise their heads in the presence of a man. The rape issue I am very opinionated on as well. And so, I give this article my full supply of support and compliments!

w00t for Spacefem!!! :spacefem:
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Postby zoe. » Thu Jul 3, 11:53 2003

you quoted from tthe shower monologue in ferris bueller and that makes this article rock.
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Postby Ryomakuriyami » Thu Jul 3, 12:43 2003

Save Ferris! That's the third best movie ever, right behind Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
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Postby artful dodger » Thu Jul 3, 12:57 2003

I agree. There are too many misconceptions about feminism. :mad:

Great article, Spacefem!
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Postby DudeMan101 » Thu Jul 3, 13:15 2003

Most excelent. It does seem that people are morons. That doesn't even have to be the point of the article. It is as if every inteligently written article somehow reveals that people are stupid.
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Postby helium » Thu Jul 3, 13:16 2003

fleetwoothairplanes wrote:I agree. There are too many misconceptions about feminism. :mad:


Yes. A guy friend I had asked me why I wasn't yelling at him for being a boy 24/7, then he asked me why I wasn't a lesbian. I think I will give him a link.

Good job Spacefem!
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Postby Spork Flinger » Thu Jul 3, 14:39 2003

I agree, that has to be one of the best articles I've read at this site.
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Postby paperflame » Thu Jul 3, 16:22 2003

Before I read this, all I knew about Feminism was that it was an act for women's rights. I didn't know it was so involved in issues for other countries, and things as such. I'm really glad you posted this, because you convinced me to support this group. I've always been opinionated on these subjects, but I never knew feminism delt with these specific issues.

Yay for a great article!
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Postby moop. » Thu Jul 3, 16:42 2003

I haven't been around long and this article convinced me to stay.
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Postby chocolatenutbar » Thu Jul 3, 20:03 2003

Spacefem, you make me PROUD to call myself a Feminist.
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Postby wrongway_peachfuzz » Fri Jul 4, 3:41 2003

yes, that article was cool.
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Postby guitaress » Fri Jul 4, 12:59 2003

Well said, indeed. I am a very strong willed and passionate person, yet I try not to get into any "isms." It's funny when people assume I'm going to believe one thing and group with all the people that believe in it, but then when people find out I completely disagree, they scratch their heads and look confused. It's amusing. I just think everyone should believe in what they believe in, not what a group believes in. My mom is an intelligent person, a lawyer in fact, and it bugs me how she just goes with whatever the democrats say because it's "right." Not that she should agree with republicans, for God's sake, no... but I think it would help her to be skeptical of the democrats sometimes. She doesn't realize she does it, but she does. Anyway I'm rambling and the main point of this is: yes, great article, I agree with it.
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Postby DudeMan101 » Fri Jul 4, 13:21 2003

It is somewhat important to join groups, and sometimes even -isms, because the only real way anyone has political power is with large numbers or smaller numbers of people with a lot of money.
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Postby sansspina » Sat Jul 5, 8:11 2003

Dudeman has a valid point there. Frequently, there is nothing that can be done by a single individual, particularly in the political arena, unless they have a great deal of personal wealth. Even then, they are liable to be written off as an eccentric, and ignored.

If, instead, they have the support and financial backing of an organized group, it's at least a little more difficult to ignore the raised voices, let alone the raised fists.

Yes, you heard me, I said raised fists.

I am indeed an extremely militant Feminist, and not by choice, either. I've seen too much, both personally, and on a professional level, of what happens to women when we depend upon the mercies of civil and criminal law to protect us from the very people who should be our closest allies in life: men.

From the patient brought in dead, after her b/f's too-vigorous attempts to abort her fetus w/a broom handle had pierced her pericardium, to the personal friend who took a shot-gun blast at close range in front of her toddlers after opening the door to her ex-husband, it never ends. No matter what the law may say, what is practiced is an entirely different thing.

Then again, I've mellowed a lot. Until abt 15 years ago, I was a radical militant. Very extremist, wouldn't even use my last name, signing instead a large "X". Why? Because a woman's last name is her father's or her husband's name...and consequently, a species of slave name. Her "owner's" name, as it were. In those days, my theory was that not only was violence an answer, it was the only answer.

Now, I concentrate mostly on self-help work. We do now have computer tutoring workshops going. In the past, I've spent time teaching other women how to use and maintain guns, both hand and long gun. We "import" specialists in things like car repair and appliance repair, etc.

One of my "accomplices in crime", lol, runs a personal hot-line, for crisis intervention, and referrals to social agencies, another for placement in shelters.

Right now, I'm wheedling and coaxing an instructor at the karate academy that my granddaughters attend to join in, gratis, and start teaching those who are interested, a little bit abt one-on-one fighting.

Essentially, the idea is that men are great, but sometimes, for your own self-preservation, you'd be better off knowing how to take care of yourself.

A seriously excellent article...one that made me glad to have read it, and glad to be what I am...a Feminist. Period. No race, religion, nor ethnic background need apply. Just ...a Feminist.
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Postby DudeMan101 » Sat Jul 5, 12:00 2003

Matial art, HA! Get a gun, girl! No matter how fragile and weak a person is (not a reference to females in specific) , if they have a loaded firearm, they are on equal grounds with about everybody.

There has been an increase in the number of females taking firearms training, and this, I strongly encourage.
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Postby sansspina » Sat Jul 5, 12:09 2003

DudeMan101 wrote:Matial art, HA! Get a gun, girl! No matter how fragile and weak a person is (not a reference to females in specific) , if they have a loaded firearm, they are on equal grounds with about everybody.

There has been an increase in the number of females taking firearms training, and this, I strongly encourage.


Believe it or not, there are actually some women who object to blowing a hole large enough to throw a cat through in a man, no matter how terrible the situation is...go figure. I, however, am not one of them.

Not to mention, there are many impediments in this state to acquiring a carry-permit. And a gun that is home, in your dresser drawer is pretty much useless, unless you need a paper weight.
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Postby chocolatenutbar » Sat Jul 5, 14:11 2003

Very true about the guns, sans. I know how to shoot a gun, mainly because my uncle is a police officer and my mother wants me prepared in case some guy tries to pull something stupid on me. Of course, the use of knowing how to fire a weapon you don't have isn't going to do you any good, so just kick 'em in the groin. Stops the man just as effectively, and is even considered more painful to just about any guy you ask.

But really, all women-and even some men- should take things such as martial arts classes, boxing, or even simply self-defense classes. Knowing how to protect yourself in a dangerous situation is a good skill to have, no matter who you are. Sitting tied up blindly isn't going to help you any if your house is being robbed. Kick ass and take names.
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Postby DudeMan101 » Sat Jul 5, 14:15 2003

Well, that's why you should always have a gun on you. There are holsters (sp?) that fit between the waist of you pants and you, uh, waist. Very comfortable, very stealthy, easily accesible in an emergency.

Unfortunetly, some facists have decided to make alws making constant carry dificult or illegal. but as it is said, it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

If you don't get what that means, it means that it is better to risk being caught with a gun and tried (there are 12 members in a jury), then caught without a gun and killed (coffins are carried by 6 people).
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Postby skeptic320 » Sat Jul 5, 20:07 2003

What do guns have to do with feminism? (Not that I have a problem with a discussion on gun control. I just thought the thread was getting a little off track.)
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Postby Blue Lotus » Sat Jul 5, 20:08 2003

Wow. That has got to be one of the most provoking, inspiring, and informing articles I've ever read. You defend a woman's right to be a feminist and show it for what it honestly is. Well said indeed.
I'm most certainly a feminist. I'm big time into women's rights, but also gay rights, and other various things that I believe in and support. No need to hash it all out again, as you've done an excellent job.

To DudeMan101: Excellent point on the firearms issue. I've been shooting guns since the young age of five, and I'm nearly 18 now. I have a respect for firearms and people that properly and safely use them. I'm a good shot and enjoy shooting. I fully intend on obtaining a concealed weapon's permit when I'm 21, as I intend on being able to protect myself. I plan to take a few martial arts classes as well for basic self defense. I do yoga and pilates, which is a really good basis. Lmao.

I just have to say what a powerful article that was. Bravo.
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Postby rooween » Sun Jul 6, 19:47 2003

Bravo! That was a great article. It really carifies what a feminist is. Sometimes we get these misconceptions in our heads and don't want to lable our selves as such but I guess I am a feminist I just never gave myself that title. Thanks for the clarification.
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Postby SpasticKitten » Mon Jul 7, 13:40 2003

Excellent.
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Postby the_emu_returns » Tue Jul 8, 8:42 2003

This is a really inspiring article. Feminism is truly a great cause. The only thing that bugs me is what my dad jokingly refers to as "Feminazis"-- people who believe that all sex is rape and other such ideas.
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Postby artful dodger » Tue Jul 8, 11:04 2003

the_emu_returns wrote:This is a really inspiring article. Feminism is truly a great cause. The only thing that bugs me is what my dad jokingly refers to as "Feminazis"-- people who believe that all sex is rape and other such ideas.


That doesn't make a lot of sense...why would a feminist, someone who believes women are the equals of men (and therefore should be allowed to enjoy sex), say that all sex is rape? Just how jokingly is he saying this?

My father says dumb things like that sometimes, but not THAT dumb, and you can tell he doesn't mean it.
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