Does this solve the whole "Are you a feminist?" media thing?

Forgive the inept title. I don’t know what to call it, but some celebrity will be asked by the media, “Are you a feminist?” Or some celeb will spontaneously declare that s/he is or is not a feminist. Then you have a shitstorm in the MSM and social media about what s/he did or didn’t say s/he was.

There’s a guy whose channel I watch on YouTube. It’s not about politics, usually, but he took the time to make a long video emphatically stating that, while he believes in sexual equality, he’s not a feminist. So the non-famous are getting into the act too. This all is in addition to the trove of online content that is actually about feminism.

I think it’s all pretty odd for one main reason: There’s no official Feminist Manifesto with which to agree or disagree. So if you say you are one, what does that really mean? And if you say you aren’t one, what are you rejecting?

I think the trick bag some people get into with this works like this. The standpoint of the questioner is that of seeing feminism in terms of its noble goals: sexual equality, equal pay for equal work, treating women like human beings, and so on. The standpoint of anyone who says no, however, is that of seeing feminism (perhaps unconsciously) as a tainted brand, one irreparably damaged by its negative and sometimes explicitly misandrist adherents (do not take this to mean I think any particular proportion of self-described feminists falls in this category).

Thus, questioner and answerer are talking at cross-purposes, and everyone misunderstands each other.

How about this as an answer? This is what I sincerely believe, and I think it could work:

I am a feminist insofar as “feminism” means supporting the equality of the sexes and the ideal relationship between men and women collectively in society.

How can anyone object to that? Because, again, there’s no manifesto. If someone were dissatisfied with that answer, s/he would have to indicate what additional beliefs the answerer needs to sign onto.

Those are my thoughts on this. What do you think?

I intended to write about this in a thread I hoped to call “Why I don’t believe in the people who can’t believe the people that choose not to call themselves a feminist,” but I think someone has already done it.

If someone were to ask me if I am a feminist, I’d turn the question around and ask them what they mean by that.

By “feminist”, do they mean someone who is a social justice warrior-type who writes long posts about intersectionality and patriarchy and only reads and talks about feminists issues? If so, then no, I am not a feminist. I can only name two feminist scholars right off the top of my head, and I don’t even know if they are well-respected anymore.

Do they mean someone who talks a lot about gender issues from the feminist perspective? If so, then no, I am not a feminist. I don’t spend a lot of time even thinking about gender (ironically, this can be attributed to the successes of feminism).

But if they think a feminist is someone who regularly questions gender roles and believes that women are still victims of discrimination, then yes, I am a feminist. If they think a feminist is someone who thinks that people need to stop trying to regulate and objectify female sexuality and women’s bodies, then hell yes, I am a feminist.

Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.

I think the traditional “eat red meat watch too much football likes the woman at home with the kids” I think that type of male figure gets too much criticism. Let me be clear, there are guys like that that marry women who also like that lifestyle and for them it is mainly a personal choice and not something they would dictate to other people. Men like that may be rare withing that group, however.

My point is that “typical masculine” qualities are often unpopular today.

That having been said I think the balance of fairness vs unfairness, well life is still much better for men in most categories. So, I think most MRA/anti-feminist types are reacting to this, that masculine qualities are unpopular. And while to some degree this is/may be true, on the balance their complaints are way out of proportion. In other words, one could object to some of the anti-masculine sentiment we see currently, but to turn it into a crusade against feminists is way way too exaggerated and shows poor critical thinking skills and an even deeper bias or bigotry on the part of the “anti-feminist”.

As to the definition of feminist I am OK with multiple definitions, even ones that overlap or contradict, because different people will have different opinions.

I know a Men’s Rights Activist and he is very, very anti-masculine attitudes. He wrote a letter to the local paper asking people to boycott high school football because it teaches boys to be violent to other boys.

In my experience, I don’t find MRAs are in to red meat and football at all.

OK, maybe I got that part wrong.

Virtually everyone in the USA supports equality of the sexes. (In other countries, not so much.)

Debates about feminism here are about meanings and means. For instance, one common feminist demand is for income equality. Many feminists say that women are paid 77 cents for each dollar because of gender discrimination. They demand that laws be changed to address this.

They are wrong. The pay gap between men and women is much smaller than that, and it is not the result of discrimination. It’s the result of men and women making different career choices. So “equality of the sexes” does not require eliminating the pay gap. But some people obviously think it does.


As others have said, the shitstorm is entirely because any 3 people will have 5 opinions on what “I am a feminist” means, and at least 5 more opinions on what “I am not a feminist” means.

So only a fool answers the question. Or someone who’s a celebrity and believes that any publicity is good publicity.

A more nuanced answer, even one as even-handed as the OP’s proposal, doesn’t really accomplish anything vs. the question itself. It may be a perfectly fine statement about one’s actual attitude, but it does nothing to stop the litmus-test thinking of the questioner or the audience.

It’s just a way for those invested in the patriarchy to shut down attempts for women’s rights. It’s gone on forever, and this is just the latest form. They can’t stop people from caring about women’s rights, but they can make it socially taboo to identify with the movement.

Of course most people are for sexual equality. But if you can get them to decry feminism, then they cut off the main people who are actually working to fix things. Those who are the most active are changed into the derogatory “social justice warrior”–the new version of the straw feminist we saw back in the 1990s and such.

It’s really, really pissing me off that anti-feminist terms like SJW are catching on. Monstro, really? You of all people can’t see through the concept and realize that they don’t actually exist? Why the fuck are we letting the anti-feminist or pro-racism “rationalists” define the discourse on this subject? That’s where the term comes from: it was a huge, huge part of what became GamerGate.

Don’t you see that, as the term is actually used, you are a “social justice warrior”, just like most of us on this board? That only those who appear to be anti-feminist, like LinusK, are not SJWs?

This is why I decided, after many years of quibbling, to call myself a feminist. I can’t let the anti-feminist define the discourse, to the point where people I very, very much respect and think the world of are internalizing their talking points.

I think you are right.

Sadly, any group like that these days has its own outrage machine looking for anything in one’s statement to pounce on, so it’s pretty much no win.

In terms of modern Western culture the term ‘feminist’ is a complete anachronism. The left-wing media use the question ‘Are you a feminist?’ in the same way vaudeville used the joke ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’ There is no right answer. If you say ‘No’ you will instantly be vilified, and if you say ‘Yes’ you’ll be interrogated as to ‘How exactly?’ It’s a loaded question.

Good point!

You’re right, it’s a loaded question, but I’d dispute your opening sentence - precisely why it’s a loaded question, and the load needs unpacking. The correct answer to a loaded question is to ask for its terms to be defined first.

So, I think that we can safely say that for the purposes of this thread, ISIS is feminist. After all, “lesser people than men” are still people, and since the definition accepts that this is a radical idea, its context is one in which the accepted knowledge is that women are not people by the vast majority.

But this isn’t the case, of course, because this is some hardcore straight-up strategic equivocation, in which a term which everyone associates with a bunch of policies is given an alternate and entirely inoffensive definition, defended with that definition, then sneakily changed back as soon as the debate’s over.

At least, this is my experience. I may just not know a large portion of feminists whose position on women is “I keep them barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, not in the kennel.” and who are accepted for their radical views in so doing.

No, there are no “lesser people.” Anyone who thinks there are hasn’t fully grasped personhood.