What I Actually Mean When I Say I'm Not A Feminist

by April Lee

It’s a dangerous topic to talk about because people have become so quick to fight and defend this viewpoint; they assume if you're not with them, you are against them.

I had my qualms about putting this online, knowing it doesn’t matter whether my grammar is flawed or flawless, or whether my thoughts have been well- or ill-expressed. Someone out there is still going to find this post offensive or ignorant.

But, ultimately, the hesitation I felt about being able to express my thoughts freely is exactly why it has to be done.

So, let’s talk feminism.

There is a fear today of being associated with man-hating, aggressiveness, isolation and all the other negative connotations that come along with being a feminist. These traits, essentially, have nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with the way feminism is portrayed by some.

It’s become more acceptable to be an extreme feminist (I’m talking about the kind who advocates feminism in all the erroneous and misconceived ways and gives the rest of the world an excuse to dismiss feminism entirely as a joke) than it is to be a non-feminist. (A non-feminist, mind you, not an anti-feminist.)

Because, as a female, fighting for feminism will empower you, while not fighting for it will categorize you into the breed of women who are ignorant, ungrateful, feeble and simply incapable of living without a man taking care of them and telling them what to do.

And to the men who have felt blamed, accused or villainized as a result of this cultural phenomenon, I apologize. Because that wasn’t our original intent. And we certainly shouldn’t have to push anyone down as we try to make our way up.

Let me tell you more about myself before we go into this any further. I’m 18. I enjoy writing, making or listening to music and watching frivolous television shows in my spare time.

I aim to study visual communications at FIDM in LA. I don’t dream about getting married, settling down, having kids or being a homemaker -- at least, not at this point in my life, not anytime soon.

I am female. I am not a feminist.

See, the idea itself is beautiful. Feminism advocates equal civil rights, social rights and liberties to every individual regardless of gender. It’s a movement toward liberating women and giving them the same rights over their body, their future and their lifestyle choices as any man.

As any man.

So, what about those who don’t identify as either?

Discrimination exists, even with feminism slowly embedding itself into our society, into our legal systems. We still allow loopholes that let discrimination happen right under our noses, loopholes that don’t protect or speak up for those who don’t see themselves as men and don’t see themselves as women.

Because we still see the world as blues and reds. And we forget to see everything that exists in between.

We expect to change the whole world while talking about one half of the population. And even when a reference is made to the other, it’s only to compare.

We want to be paid as much as men. We want the same civil rights as men. We want to be given the same educational opportunities as men.

But men can be underpaid. Men can be denied education. Men can be discriminated against. Men can be sexually harassed. Men can be raped.

But you’ve already heard that before.

We might not realize it, but when we make these comparisons, we are openly admitting that our understanding of how to achieve “equality” is to use men as the benchmark of how women should be treated.

But why are we hitching our wagon to something fluid? Something that could still change in the near or distant future? Isn't it then ironic, that our fight for liberation is so dependent on what is now for someone else, rather than what could be for everyone?

What if, one day, just as many boys are sold into prostitution, married off to women thrice their age and refused the chance to go to school?

If, one day, discrimination towards men rises to the level of discrimination toward women, would we then achieve what we are so desperately fighting for now? Equality?

Because if women only deserve to be treated as equally as men are treated, does that truly guarantee kind and fair treatment for everyone?

Perhaps, when we demand equality, we don’t think about how things could be equally bad.

If we were to achieve better and fairer treatment, I wouldn’t want it to be because society recognizes the worth and capability of the male gender and has to accept, by default, that “it’s only fair” women are pulled up to the same level.

If we were to achieve better and fairer treatment, I’d want it to be because society genuinely recognizes our worth and capability, regardless of the status of our male counterpart at any given point in time.

I’d want it to be because society has finally stopped comparing in bulk and has realized that yes, we deserve to be treated fairly. But also that individually, we have our own strengths and weaknesses. Our own needs and wants have nothing to do with whether we are female or male, but rather, who we are as uniquely flawed human beings.

And for that reason, we can afford to be treated suitably.

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." – Aristotle

My value and worth as a human and to society shouldn’t have anything to do with men, but it shouldn’t have anything to do with another woman either. It shouldn’t be dependent on anything else except for the fact I am human with distinct character traits and skills. And so is everyone else.

I am not a feminist.

But that does not mean I don’t acknowledge the flaws in this world; that I don’t see tragedy, inequality or segregation. It does not mean I think everything is all flowers and rainbows.

Just because I do not label myself a feminist does not mean I don’t want the same things for our world.

I do believe all girls deserve the opportunity to be educated. All girls have a choice to say no, to say yes, to say not right now or to not say anything at all. Girls are not objects solely here to satiate the needs of men.

I do believe in all these things, not because we are girls and not because girls are “equal” to boys. This has nothing to do with men and everything to do with being a person.

It’s as simple as that.

Just because I do not label myself a feminist does not mean you get the right to label me as anything else.

I don’t believe that if she is not a feminist, she automatically believes that girls do not deserve to be educated. That if she is not a feminist, she automatically believes that girls do not deserve to have a choice. That if she is not a feminist, she automatically believes that girls are sexual objects or property.

I am not a feminist because I don’t believe that if you are not a feminist, surely, you must be an awful human being by default.

Because lately, all these fervent blog posts and vehement campaigns declaring that “all women have a choice” have, in turn, left me feeling like I have no choice but to be a feminist.

I believe every girl has a choice. And that includes to be a feminist or to not. And should she decide the latter, she definitely shouldn’t have to feel like she’s on the wrong side of the fence.

So when I say I am not a feminist, I don’t mean I don’t want change. When I say I’m not a feminist, what I don’t want is the label.

Because maybe these labels have given us more of a reason to divide ourselves and dwell on the tiny differences that set us apart, rather than unite us and remind us of the parts where we overlap.

It really doesn’t matter what we call ourselves, or what we identify as, be it feminist, non-feminist, humanist, egalitarian or equitist.

Because at the end of the day, if you are a person who simply believes in respect, love and consideration for all, then our goals will be the same.

And if we’d stopped standing up for ourselves as genders, races or sexualities and started standing up for each other as human beings, then maybe we could have already achieved what we have been trying to do this entire time.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Elite Daily.