You Can Stop Saying “I’m Not a Feminist But…” Now

I came across this article, “You Can Stop Saying “I’m Not a Feminist But…” Now“, while reading about Carla Bruni’s comments on how “her generation doesn’t need feminists” (here, here, and here, and oh, one more).

How many different ways can a successful, highly visible woman declare to anyone who will listen that she is not a feminist?

Former French First Lady Carla Bruni said, ”There are pioneers who paved the way for us. I am not a feminist activist at all. On the contrary I am a true bourgeoise. I love family life and doing the same thing every day,” and ”In my generation we don’t need to be feminist.”

How nice for her. Feminists, I guess, do not love family life. They fucking hate it. They spit on it!

Lady Gaga said, “I am not a feminist. I hail men. I love men. I celebrate American male culture.”

Feminists hate men, obviously.

Katy Perry said, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.”

Who even knows what this means.

Taylor Swift is not a feminist. Instead, she thinks, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

Feminism is guys versus girls… moving right along.

Designer Vivienne Westwood is not a feminist but that’s just because she’s rich. She said, explaining why she’s not a feminist, “Another reason is because I live in the privileged world and I would never accept the idea that somehow I am a victim of society. Just by being born a woman.”

Feminism is for poor people!

Demi More is not a feminist. She said, “”I am a great supporter of women, but I have never really thought of myself as a feminist, probably more of a humanist because I feel like that’s really where we need to be.”

We are the world.

Dame Stephanie Shirley, a British philanthropist, said, “I am not a feminist but I have always fought for women.”

There are, literally, thousands upon thousands of blog posts across the Internet from women declaring why they are not feminists, doing their damndest to distance themselves from the feminist scourge, the scarlet F.

(full article at Roxane Gay)

:Our generation doesn’t need feminists. I am not a feminist, but…” Snort.

And Carla Bruni’s response to all the backlash over her comment?

“That phrasing was very clumsy and poorly expresses my thoughts,” she explained. “It should have read: ‘I have never personally felt the need to be a feminist activist.”

Riiiight.

All this reminds me of a question posed to Madeleine Albright during a lecture at the LSE (Global Political Challenges: Women Advancing Democracy; podcast  available here) that I was fortunate enough to attend. A young woman in the audience asked Dr. Albright why she thought women of her generation (my generation, that is) were reluctant to call themselves ourselves feminists. Is it because we’re in a “post-feminist” world, where we don’t need to be feminists because we are “humanists” and men and women now have equal opportunities?

Madeleine Albright Lecture

Women Advancing Democracy Lecture at the LSE, 2011

At this, you could hear the snorts across the auditorium. My memory’s a bit hazy, but Dr. Albright responded by saying something along the lines of: the reason why feminism has come to the point that women are saying their generations don’t need feminism anymore is because we’ve forgotten about the people who fought for the rights we have now. If we stop now, we fail to honor those who came before us, and we condemn ourselves to such ignorant statements as “I have never personally felt the need to be a feminist activist”. Okay so that last sentence was all me, but similar sentiments were echoed by women at the lecture. Every time a woman says “I’m not a feminist but…” a little fairy DIES. In all seriousness though, however did feminism become a dirty word?

This also reminds me of hearing Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court justice and the second (out of a total of four) women to hold that position, speak in Paris in 2009. She talked about her law school days at Harvard Law. She was one of two women in her class, and in order to use the restroom she would have to leave the law campus to the only building in the vicinity that had a women’s restroom – in the asbestos-infested basement.

With Justice Ginsberg and friends

With Justice Ginsberg and friends in Paris ’09

Something like not having a restroom to use – whether a women’s toilet or unisex toilets – didn’t even occur to me as an issue to be concerned about. Because that’s not an issue anymore, because of people like Justice Ginsberg. But just because these pioneering women have “paved the way for us” as Carla Bruni says, does not give feminists – women and men – of our generation an excuse to stop being feminists. Sure, we don’t have to fight for accessible toilets for women anymore in America, but HELLO? Have you read the news at all in the past year, or EVER? We can’t stop being feminists as long as there are people who believe that 1) the female body has a way of shutting down pregnancies that arise out of legitimate rape, 2) it’s okay for men to marry 9-year old girls in Saudi Arabia because girls mature faster in hot countries, 3) Even cows (or was it pigs?) carry their dead fetuses to term, 4) and blah blah blah. We could go on all night about this. I think you get the point.

So stop making excuses and saying “I’m not a feminist but…”!! Either proudly be a feminist, and or be ignorant in silence and stop dragging feminism into it. K, thanks.

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