I don’t want to call this an “unpopular” opinion, because way too many people on the internet have complaints about feminism already (so the criticism and even outright hatred of feminism is not in fact unpopular or uncommon), but I will say that it’s probably a controversial one, especially in regards to the beliefs and values of many of my followers. However, I feel the need to say it, because I see a lot of posts that make assumptions about who is a feminist and what is feminism, and they are assumptions I don’t find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with. I’ll start off with giving a broad definition of what I mean when I say “liberal feminist” in the title:
Liberal feminism is an individualistic form of feminist theory, which primarily focuses on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices (political, social, economic, personal)
When most pro-feminist people define feminism, they say it is the belief that women should have equal rights to men (both under the law and within social, political, and economic situations). This is a definition so basic that pretty much anyone who isn’t totally anti-women would say their values are in agreement with. You will probably meet very few (if any) people who openly say “I don’t believe women should have equal rights to men” (and when you do, you don’t really have to wonder whether or not they’re a feminist, it’s pretty clear). Generally speaking, unless someone is openly sexist, they will say that they are for women having equal rights legally, equal payment for equal work, the ability to run legitimately in political campaigns (as well as the right to vote), and the right to be treated socially as autonomous individuals with thoughts, feelings, desires, and opinions (and not merely objects for male amusement).
Since every reasonable person will agree with the fundamental tenets of women’s rights, I don’t think it’s responsible or correct to claim that these are all it takes for someone to be a feminist. Everyone is a “liberal feminist” in a sense. But if all it took to be a feminist was to agree with basic liberal feminism, we wouldn’t need the term. It would be nearly synonymous with “human being” and hold absolutely no weight or connotation whatsoever. If everyone was actually a feminist (or if the majority of people were actually feminists), we would no longer require a feminist movement. We would have equality at our doorstep.
In order to actually be labeled a “feminist”, I think it should require at least agreeing with, or sympathizing with, one of the following:
The belief that society is organized in a patriarchal manner (society is chiefly organized around male authority figures) and that this is damaging or worthy of changing
Masculinity and femininity are concepts maintained and propagated because they are useful tools in organizing people (not by merit of any of their actual skills) and making sure that society adheres to gender roles - they cause more harm than they are worth
It is important to criticize traditional scientific discourse as being historically biased towards a male perspective (in biology, bioethics, psychology and sociology especially)
Society nurtures an implicit bias which is more likely to promote and praise works/media produced by men and from male perspectives than work produced by women and women’s perspectives (in television, film, novels, plays, music and visual arts).
Standardized concepts of language, formal logic, and similar systems can and have been tailored to privilege predominantly male-oriented perspectives. How we talk about good reasoning skills, or how we talk about the use of grammar, for instance, are created with traits associated with masculinity. Even our very concept of emotion and emotional reasoning has negative gendered perspectives in it.
Men are not more entitled to certain career positions just because of their gender, so efforts to hire more women are not “Women stealing my job” but simply “A woman getting the job”. Until we exist in a system that truly hires people based on skill and experience without gendered biases, programs, mentorships, and other efforts to hire women will be necessary and in line with promoting equality.
There are many more perspectives I could list, but I think if someone cannot agree with any of the above points, and can’t agree with or approve of the kind of reasoning behind them, it wouldn’t make any sense to call that person a feminist, even if they agree with liberal feminism.
Making liberal feminism the only standard one has to meet to be called a feminist is setting the bar way too low. If we accepted this as the only standard for feminism, it would be extremely easy for people with legitimately sexist views to correctly call themselves feminists.
It makes “feminism” = “just being okay with women’s equality” and not actively challenging a male-dominated world.
After studying feminism in an academic setting, there were many ideas I agreed with and many I disagreed with. I still feel that I disagree with enough feminist ideology to not fully call myself a feminist, despite promoting many feminist ideas and believing that women should have political, social, and economic equality to men. (And sometimes I do find it offensive that people make remarks about how “girls who won’t call themselves feminist are internalizing misogyny/don’t actually understand what feminism is/just trying not to anger anyone or get called a feminazi bra-burning lesbian” when I feel I’ve spent a lot of time and consideration coming to terms with my views on modern feminist theory)
I’m hoping to hear from some of my followers about how they feel concerning this belief. If you think I’m wrong and want to let me know why, if you feel you agree with me on some points but not others, or if you fully agree with me and want to add commentary, please feel free to do so.