Here’s a thought:
Could we, maybe, consider stop asking people if they are feminists?
Sometimes I wake up at about 4 in the morning and just know that I’m not going back to sleep. To just get another few hours of eyes-closed I decided to listen to a podcast. As one does.
Had a sudden craving for some Per Gessle, so I decided to listen to Kristoffer Triumf interviewing Per Gessle (you know, that guy from Roxette).
It was a lot like listening to an interview with random politician trying to not lose any prospective votes, he basically talked and talked while really saying nothing. Had no strong opinions about anything. Not even music.
Or if he did, he did not share.
Beside the point.
Towards the end of the interview, the interviewer suddenly asks him if he’s a feminist.
To be clear, I have nothing against the label feminist. I’ll happily slap it on myself and other people too. The best people are feminists. (Truth universally acknowledged and that…)
Per Gessle: What does that mean?
Interviewer: That women and men should have the same rights.
Per Gessle: Well in that case.
Now this is obviously ridiculous, if you don’t even know what a feminist is, how can you be a feminist? It’s impossible. The answer to the question is NO.
The answer is also no if you say that you are a feminist, but then present your very own definition. Very common among right-wing feminists. (At least in Sweden. And I mean sure, they have to do that, because the basis of their beliefs are by definition not feminist, sooo…)
There are two problems here: is it at all relevant to know if Per Gessle is a feminist? And, you don’t think that if you have to ask, the answer is probably (most definitely) no?
Well actually, there is also a third problem: you’re not a feminist just because you agree that women and men should have the same rights. You have to act the part as well. There has to be something that you do based on the belief that men and women should have the same rights. Especially since no sane person is going to disagree (at least not out loud), but then what they do, that might be something else entirely.
The Free Dictionary has this lovely little definition of the word:
A person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism.
This definition needs to take hold asap!
Speaking of which. There is another thing I’m missing in the standard definition: responsibilities. Men and women should have the same responsibilities. I wish that was more of a topic of discussion.
As for the question Are you a feminist?—completely redundant. I never want to hear that question ever again.
What asking this question does, however, is give non-feminists the opportunity to call themselves feminists in an attempt to win some ethical points.
Could we just not give them that opportunity?
We don’t ask people about their political belonging in general, we don’t walk around asking people if they’re socialists for example, why should feminism be any different?