Guest post: Feminism has never been about being popular

Originally a comment by ZugTheMegasaurus on All the while insisting we call them “feminist”.

The only thing that seemed to survive this push to destigmatize feminism is the word itself. People wanted so badly for “feminism” to not trigger this negative knee-jerk reaction, but they only succeeded by making it a toothless word that no one feels a need to react to.

It’s not that I don’t understand. I’m also irritated by people assuming all sorts of stupid shit about feminism and feminists. But I can also understand that feminism is, by its very nature, going to upset a lot of people. I can understand that it is not something that everyone is going to embrace, or even see reason for embracing. A lot of women, Kim Kardashian included, have found a comfortable place for themselves in things the way they are. They have found a way to make the patriarchal status quo work for them, and in that light, I think it’s entirely obvious why those people would not be especially enthusiastic about any ideology/viewpoint that wouldn’t include those opportunities.

A lot of us who embrace feminism aren’t in that category. We haven’t found a comfortable place in that system, and more importantly, we don’t want to. We don’t understand how anybody would be, and we have a hard time believing women who say they are; I think that’s where a lot of this push to say “every woman is a feminist, even if you think you’re not” comes from. It’s this insistence that somebody just can’t believe something harmful about themselves and their role in the world, so they must just be confused about what they believe.

But I’m willing to admit that I might just not get it. That’s certainly been the explanation in the back of my head for, say, my entire life. I don’t get wanting to be a wife and mother (I gag a little bit just typing it, FFS). I don’t get thinking that I should defer to someone else for no reason other than my sex/gender. I don’t get accepting someone else’s explanation of who and what I am. But a lot of people do, and that’s okay. It is okay that those people are not feminists; it is okay that beliefs that would be devastating for me are actually positive for them. I still hope that those beliefs are going to disappear from the face of the earth one day, but I can acknowledge that I’m in the minority on that one.

I can be a feminist, and I can still support the many, many women who are not. Not by trying to convert them or by broadening the definition of “feminist” to fit them in, but simply by understanding that they are the ones who will reap the benefits of feminism, not feminism as a label or personal identity, but feminism as a movement of women’s liberation from patriarchy. And even then, if they cursed feminism and feminists to their dying breath, that would be just fine too. Feminism has never been about being popular, and it never will be, no matter how many people would prefer it to be about silly t-shirts and hashtags. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.

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