Monday, 9 November 2015

I am a feminist out of protest

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

In my video "Feminism and Islam: A Better Discussion", I said that I try to take an objective view of the issues, to not associate myself too strongly with a particular point of view so that I can remain level-headed and not end up emotionally investing in the position. On that video, I was accused by one commenter of having a feminist bias. This post won't help dissuade people who agree with that viewpoint, but the title, at least I hope, should give you an idea that things won't be as simplistic as me just calling myself a feminist.

I won't lie: when I come across feminists on YouTube, I'm mostly pleasantly surprised. They are civil in terms of how they deal with the opposing side, they cite sources in their videos (a lot of the time the sources are obviously biased, but still, it's 1 step above the many that don't), and I have a definite bias to some out of the fact that I've known them for years (Laci being the most prominent example here). In contrast, anti-feminists, and I'm using the term here as a catch-all to describe anyone opposed to feminist arguments, have overwhelmingly been very aggressive, very personal in their attacks, have an obsession with generalizing (a video can never be about just 1 feminist, it's always about feminISTS), and do not even seem receptive to the arguments they are hearing. Of course, I won't make the same mistake they do. I am seeing a tiny subsection of YouTube. There are no doubt plenty of reasonable anti-feminists and very unreasonable feminists, but I've seen what I've seen. My "bias" is more one in favour of civility rather than in favour of feminism. I like nuanced arguments. I like videos where the videomaker is being civil. I like videos where the opponent is treated as an individual and not a label. I am "biased" towards these kinds of videos.

None of this has anything to do with why I'd call myself a feminist, I just thought I'd get that out of the way. I call myself a feminist for one reason only: I am in favour of gender equality. That's it. That's all "feminism" means. The rest is nuance.

What about the protest part? Well, this comes down to a tendency that has cropped up among both camps. People are rejecting the label "feminism" because, in their view, it has become associated with man-haters and/or "special snowflakes" who are offended by everything. Many of the people rejecting this label are in favour of gender equality, and so could quite easily call themselves feminists, but choose not to because of what they perceive to be a hijacking of the term. I have only one response to that:


Language is not decided by a dictionary. You don't need to just give up on a word once it's been co-opted by a group you don't approve of. You can always take it back. By refusing to use the term, you are contributing to the exact phenomenon that caused you to ditch the label in the first place. I absolutely refuse to do that. Feminism achieved great things back in the day. It got women the vote. It got them into the work place. Don't throw all that under the bus just because of what a TINY MINORITY of assholes are doing with it now. If you disagree with what they say, call yourself a feminist and disagree.

You will never be able to assume what positions I hold on various issues just because I use the term feminism. I disagree with many prominent YouTube feminists on a whole array of issues. I agree, to some extent, with a few positions held by anti-feminists and MRAs. None of this changes the fact that I support gender equality and so I will use a label that claims to champion this, and do my bit to ensure this definition is reflected. If anyone has a problem with that, too bad.


No comments:

Post a Comment