“I’m not a feminist.” This is an unfortunate statement that I have heard from the lips of several women. Those who make the bold declaration fall in three major categories.
There is the “pick me” type. This one seeks to gain approval from men with “I’m not like other girls” proclamations.
There is the fundamentalist. This category encompasses the devout Christian woman and the cultural fanatic. The fundamentalist believes that feminism upsets the natural order of things i.e. women were created to obey and submit to men.
Then there is the woman who is decidedly ignorant. She is opposed to feminism because she hasn’t bothered to educate herself about the cause. She is confident that feminism is bad based on hearsay.
All these categories of women who are proud to disassociate themselves from feminism have one thing in common; they speak from a place of privilege. They exist in a society where women now have the freedom to speak up, go places, do things, and dream.
They don’t stop to think that the freedoms they take for granted were obtained from the blood sweat and tears of feminists from past generations who were jailed, scoffed at, thrown on the streets of parliament so that women could be regarded in their own right as human beings.
So that women could have the right to vote and stand for public office. So that women could seek gainful employment without asking for their husband’s permission first. So that women could own and inherit property.
Even those who know that feminists fought for these rights have been deluded by their privilege into thinking that women are now in a better place so feminism is no longer necessary.
They don’t think of the thirteen year-old girl who is now a fourth wife to a man who is old enough to be her grandfather because it is culturally acceptable to rape a woman if you want to claim her as your own.
They don’t think of the woman who is stuck in an abusive marriage because the first few times she reported to the police, they said to her: “That’s a family matter,” and then proceeded to give her the unsolicited unhelpful advice: “stop making him angry.”
Privilege blinds “I’m not a feminist” types of women to the fact that Saudi Arabia women only started voting in 2015 and until last year, they were still not allowed to drive.
And there are still many things they are not allowed to do without permission from a male family member, such as opening a bank account, getting divorced or travelling abroad.
Women are generally still getting paid less than their male counterparts. Approximately sixty million girls are still being denied education. More than two hundred million girls are affected by Female Genital Mutilation.
One in three women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. There is still a lot of ground for feminism to cover.
So to proudly declare that you’re not a feminist is to proudly say that you don’t care about the many injustices against women around the world.