“I’m not a feminist, but…”

After reading an interview with Olivia Munn, I began about how it seems there are more and more women in the public eye who, in interviews, say they aren’t feminists, but then go on to express their belief in equality and fairness for everyone. The ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’ effect, if you will. The thing is, I can’t decide for anyone but myself that they are a feminist. And it is, of course, a person’s prerogative to say they don’t identify as one. I’m not trying to force anyone to say or be anything. But I feel like people’s ideas of what feminism is, as well as negative stereotypes of feminists (man-hating, bra-burning, hair-legged, dungaree-wearing, blah blah blah), means that a lot of people who actually do have beliefs that are fairly in line with feminism don’t think that feminism is for them or that what they believe in is anything like what feminism is.

This is the definition of feminism:

feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 :organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests — feminist n or adj — feministic adj

I guess that, to me, it has always boiled down to equal rights, And reading quotes from Olivia Munn, saying, after the interviewer asks her about not considering herself a feminist,

“I just consider myself a person in this world who wants to stand up for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves. I care just as much about the guys as I do about the girls. I want geeks to feel empowered to stand with people who are more socially accepted. And I want girls to feel that they can be pretty and funny and edgy and not apologize for it.”

That sounds pretty awesome to me. As a feminist, I care just as much about the guys as I do the girls. Sexism, and a sexist society, has negative effects on men as well as women. And  definitely agree that women should be able to feel like they can be pretty and edgy, and be themselves and not apologize for it.

What I think it comes down to is:

” if you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.”

Yes you are.

I can’t make anyone say that they are a feminist. But I do hope that we all get a little less scared of the big scary f-word.

One Comment

  1. Carol says:

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. It’s been around since the 80s when MSM did a good job of undermining the success of 2nd wave feminism.

    The trouble with Munn’s quote:

    I just consider myself a person in this world who wants to stand up for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves.I care just as much about the guys as I do about the girls. I want geeks to feel empowered to stand with people who are more socially accepted. And I want girls to feel that they can be pretty and funny and edgy and not apologize for it.

    is that she is implicitly dissociating herself from any feminists who fit, or even get close to, the stereotype of ta feminist as a hairy-legged, lesbian separatist. So, she kind of contradicts her first sentence about wanting to stand up for anyone who can’t stand up for themselves. The kind of feminists, or assertive women, who get the most positive mainstream support are precisiely the ones she foregrounds: the pretty, funny, “edgy’ (i.e. rebellious in a cool marketable way), whom doesn’t get too critical of any guys.

    It’s a way of containing feminist critiques within a narrow framework, that doesn’t really challenge those with the most power – a power that is very often masculine-centred.