Labels are important. I am no way saying they are not. When I say I no longer use the label of feminist, I mean I don’t use it on social media. It doesn’t mean I don’t consider myself a feminist. I absolutely do. I am a second wave, classical feminist. I am a woman hear me roar!
Some of you may remember the article I wrote about anti-feminists late last year. I wrote that article after dealing with an onslaught of anti-feminists on twitter. Just today I have had some discussions with feminists which reminded me very much of that onslaught because in that article I mentioned I was dropping the label of feminist. They didn’t like it that I dropped the label, not one bit.
I am not interested in arguing about stereotypical labels. I really am not. Yes labels are useful, but they can also be problematic because they cause people to have pre-conceived ideas about what you think. Those stereotypes can get in the way of discussion the more important issues.
Just as there are atheists with different opinions, there are feminists with different opinions. There are anti-feminists who I adore because while I am not a fan of the label, they are awesome human beings who consider all kinds of equality important issues including feminism. There are also feminists who I adore because they can see that I am at heart still a feminist and maybe there is something to consider about the label.
Let me be clear, I totally agree that labels are important, but if people automatically peg you as something you are not, that immediately brings on conversation that is totally irrelevant to the truly important issues such as misogyny which is so prevalent in Islamic culture and causes severe oppression of women. That brand of misogyny is far more severe than we deal with in the west.
I am choosing to not use use the feminist label at the outset, on character limited social media conversation for the purpose of avoiding a perceived stereotype (and trolls) and getting directly to the heart of topics that are important. The topics are what are important to me. Can I say that again, to me. I care not about the politics of feminism. I do care about inequality, misogyny and other feminist issues. I also care about atheism and issues that religion cause in society today, from science denial, to terrorism, to bigotry.
I consider myself a feminist but for the purpose of clarity to those who assume feminists are all third wave social justice warriors. All feminists are NOT all third wave social justice warriors. Social justice is important, but taking things to overly politically correct extremes muddies feminist issues. I think the term egalitarian avoids confusion on social media. I have had it suggested to me that egalitarian is an MRA term. Maybe that is how it started, maybe not, but the definition for egalitarian in the Oxford dictionary is as follows.
Believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities
I see egalitarianism as a blanket term that covers a lot of equality and human rights issues. I am pro-equality and an advocate for many human rights. There are certainly way too many for me to list on a twitter bio.
My dropping the label of feminist is more about eliminating the assumption that I am an overly politically correct social justice warrior which I have had happen quite a bit.
Using the term Egalitarian to me is an effective way of doing that for the purpose of getting past the negativity related with the feminist label, particularly considering I talk to people all over the world on twitter. I have noticed on twitter that younger generations seem to equate feminism with regressive social justice warriors which I am not. This does not mean I don’t think social justice is important but I do think social justice can take political correctness too far. I think dropping the feminism label makes it easier to discuss the issues without dealing with the associated prejudice of being a SJW feminist which in my opinion is white noise which gets in the way of talking about the real issues.
I am not saying I don’t want to be known as a feminist. I am saying it gets in the way of intelligent conversation on social media particularly when you are having conversations with character limits. When people who are actually egalitarian attack you because you call yourself a feminist, it means you are not discussing the issues that really matter because they have preconceived ideas based on a label, issues which in many cases you actually agree on. The label just isn’t as important to me as the actual issues are. I understand that for many that label is important, but I can’t see how it is more important than the issues themselves.
Declaring myself as passionate about human rights, a humanist and egalitarian is enough to make it understood that I am pro equality. If the label of feminism detracts from the issues, it makes it no longer useful to me. Let me be totally clear. I have dropped the label of feminist, not the cause.
In Australia, I had never come across the terms of social justice warrior or second or third wave feminists. I may be wrong but I don’t believe the issue is as diverse here as it is in the USA. I came across the terms through talking with a lot of atheists on twitter and via a few podcasts I was a part of. Up until recently I was busy living my life, and raising my family. It has only been since I have been able to spend more time online & have become more active in the atheist twitter community and that I started to learn more about it.
I was unaware there was a difference between second and third wave feminists, but there very clearly is as I have experienced that difference myself. It wasn’t until I came across a lot of antagonism towards feminism that I realised that not all feminists were what I thought. At first I thought it was the anti-feminists at fault because I couldn’t fathom why you would be anti-feminist, but I later realised that there was a lot more to it than that. Some of the things they had issues with were valid. I would still never be anti-feminist and am certainly still a feminist but I have no need to hang onto the label of feminist either, at least not when it comes to discussing the important issues on imperfect social media.
I am in no way saying everyone needs to drop the feminist label not at all. There are many feminists who do a lot of good for the cause who are better fighters for the label than I ever could be. Until the whole over the top SJW trend dies down, I am happy to continue using the term egalitarian and may even dig out the word feminist now and again when the conversation warrants it. Until then, lets not make the labels more important than the issues themselves, because in my opinion they aren’t.