I’ve been calling myself a feminist since I was ten years old. I grew up in the heyday of the SpiceGirls. Girl Power. Girls are just as strong as boys. All of that. I believed in feminism with all of my heart.
Moving into my teenage years, I became more serious about my feminism. I started reading about issues like abortion and stem cell research. I read up on both sides of these arguments. I also became very interested in female sexual objectification in the media. I started reading books on the subject. My favorite was Jean Kilbourne’s “Deadly Persuasion.” I went on to watch her “Killing Us Softly” documentaries. I even became friends with an adjust college professor and finagled my way into attending a few Women’s Studies courses for free. She used to give me a ride from my high school to the campus and then home after. (She was a nice lady and I was a weird teenager).
Growing up in an abusive home and witnessing domestic violence firsthand, violence against women was another issue close to my heart. By college, I was reading Susan Brownmiller.
I loved being a feminist.
I believed in the ideology with all of my heart.
People often made jokes about what an “obnoxious feminist” I was.
I took it all in stride.
I loved being a feminist. Because feminism was important. Women, nay-the world, needed feminism.
But I don’t feel this way anymore, and the reasons are nuanced and many. I won’t be able to fit them all into one blogpost. I’d have to write a manifesto (and I’m not super interested in writing longform non-fiction).
Please understand my disenchantment with feminism can not be encapsulated in this one blog post. I will only be attempting to explain ONE of the many reasons I will no longer call myself a feminist.
And just to be clear (for anyone waiting in the wings to cry “If you believe in equality between the genders, then YOU ARE Feminist!!) I wasn’t the first one to say, “Hmmm….maybe I’m not a feminist.” Other feminists were.
I do not believe in the patriarchy. I do not believe that women are systemically oppressed in the Western World. I do believe that men and women are equally capable and should have the same opportunities and privileges. This should mean I’m a feminist, right?
Wrong according to fellow feminists. Since I believe women already HAVE the same opportunities as men, because I do not believe men are unilaterally in all areas of life privileged over women (and in fact men are the disenfranchised ones in many areas, including homelessness, the education gap, higher suicide rates, mainstream genital mutilation at birth, among many MANY issues), because I believe that women already have equality, I have been told I am not a feminist.
I do not believe that as a white middle-class woman in America I am oppressed. I do not believe my gender holds me back at all. I am not a victim of anything. I used to believe I was. As I’ve grown older and my worldview has expanded with my life experience, I no longer feel this is the case. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms; if you do not believe in the patriarchy then you are not a feminist.
So…*shrug* I’m not a trad-con or anything. I used to think only weirdo traditional conservative women steeped in internalized misogyny were the types to say, “I’m not a feminist.” But the feminist movement makes no room for women who believe that women have already achieved equality. I’m not worried about leveling the playing field, because it looks plenty level to me. I’m only worried about maintenance. This statement alone got me banned from four separate online feminist communities:
“I don’t feel oppressed at all. I don’t think my gender holds me back, and women have all the same opportunities that men have“
This brings me to the main topic of this post: silly little strawman issues. The fact that modern Western feminism is focused on issues such as the supposed lack of pockets on any and all female clothing (I have pockets on all my pants. Does feminism know about Target?), the “pink tax,” and my personal favorite: Emotional Labor; the fact that these are the current feminist talking points proves my point that women have already achieved equality.
Feminists use Emotional Labor as a catch-all for several different “issues” and I use that term as loosely as possible. They are as follows.
- The emotional work required in customer service jobs. Smiling and being nice.
- The imbalance in housework (I think technically it’s meant to be something separate, but I’ve seen a lot of feminists use the term in this way).
- The emotional work required to “run a household.” Some examples I’ve seen used are tasks such as keeping track of family members’ schedules, remembering birthdays, sending thank-you cards, etc.
- Listening to and supporting their husbands. Feminists claim that all heterosexual relationships are one-sided, and anytime a man goes to his partner to talk out his problems, it’s patriarchy.
Okay….deep breath…I’ll tear down these points in the order listed above.
- You can’t get a customer service job and then make surprised Pikachu face when *gasp!* you actually have to perform customer service. Yes, you have to smile and be nice to customers.
But let me add this, I used to be a Front End Supervisor for Home Depot. My department was about a 50/50 split males and females (and a couple of FtM trans people-we had a diverse department). You bet your ass the male cashiers had to smile and make nice with customers. It’s part of the job. Hey, I am all for paying customer service employees more. They are absolutely underpaid and undervalued, but don’t use this bullshit argument to make the case.
2. Don’t marry men who don’t care about you. And anyone who doesn’t listen to your feelings and strive to compromise doesn’t care about you. A husband who refuses to split the housework 50/50 is a symptom of a larger problem: an unhealthy relationship.
This a YOU problem, girl. Your relationship sucks.
Thankfully, you’re a feminist! A strong empowered woman, and you have the power to change this TODAY. You have complete control over what you accept in a relationship.
3. Oh! The labor of remembering schedules and making appointments! The oppression! Are men oppressed because they do most of the repairs and upgrades in Western households? If sending thank-you notes is EMotioNAL LABor, than what the hell is changing the wax ring on the toilet, cleaning out the gutters, special ordering storm doors, and keeping track of when the oil needs to be changed on the car?
I know some feminist is waiting in the wings to tell me it’s sexist to say men do the majority of that shit but like….come on. Gender roles are only still in effect when it’s convenient for you? Women are spending all their time on bullshit like sending thank-you cards and remembering birthdays (for real, why in the fuck?) and also doing all the home repairs and car maintenance? I feel like…no. And did I mention I was a manager at Home Depot for about half a decade. Yes, across multiple stores in multiple states. It might sound real pretty to say that women do everything men do (and hey, you want to build your own deck, go for it! I ain’t stopping you!) but I have seen the reality. Men still do all this shit.
I’m waiting for one of them to collect some data and slap a pretty name like “Emotional Labor” on the stress that comes with chasing down the contractor to find out where the hell the double-hung windows are, because that has to at least be in the ballpark of remembering birthdays, right? (I’m being sarcastic. That’s a lot more stressful. It is a known fact that contractors never answer their phones and special orders are always six weeks late minimum).
4. If you think listening to, supporting, and encouraging your man is “labor” than I’m not surprised he never does the dishes. You’re a shitty partner.