Dear Girls (and Women),
It’s okay not to be a feminist. It’s also okay not to be a Christian feminist or a Jesus feminist or whatever wave of feminism arises. I want to emphasize this because feminism is a growing topic on social media with #FaithFeminisms and #WomenAgainstFeminism and #YesAllWomen, which is fantastic because it’s something we should all think critically about, but I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend of shaming those who either don’t label themselves as feminists or those who just plumb aren’t feminists. I repeat: It’s okay not to be a feminist.
It’s not okay to be a misogynist, or to misuse and abuse people (not just women), or to hold men and women to different standards, or even to stand by and say or do nothing in the face of misogyny, abuse, and inequality.
But it is okay not to be a feminist.
Conversely, it’s okay to be a feminist, a Christian feminist, a Jesus feminist, a first-, second-, or third-wave feminist, or any combination of these. I am privileged to be friends with a number of people who bear the mantle of feminist, and they do it well. It’s okay to be a feminist.
It is not okay to blame or shame men who are also created in the image of God, or to promote causes that lead to death, or to shame women for choices they should be free to make (like having a career or being a homemaker, or um, being a feminist or not being a feminist), or to be self-centered.
But it’s okay to be a feminist.
I remember in my senior year of college, a professor told the class, “I hope everyone in here is a feminist. I’m a feminist,” as if his being anything was what the rest of us should base our being on. It was the first time, but not the last, I encountered this kind of attitude from feminists.
I am not a feminist. I am not anti-feminist or anti-feminism, but I am not a feminist, and have no intention of donning that label now or anytime in the future. I don’t have anything against people who do (unless they are insisting I do what they do), but it is not a label I’m interested in for myself for various personal reasons.
On a practical level, how I respond to issues affecting women is probably not much different than most Christian (or Jesus) feminists. (There are a few points doctrinally where we might vary). If I hadn’t written this blog post and made it clear, you wouldn’t have known. I will fight against the mistreatment and oppression of women any day of the week, but that’s because I’m willing to fight against the mistreatment and oppression of humans (female or male) any day of the week.
The point is, my not being a feminist is not hurting anybody, and you won’t harm anyone if you say, “You know, I’m not a feminist.” It’s okay.
It’s okay to not be a feminist.
Even if it means being different, even if it means being told half a dozen times a day you’re against women (when you’re clearly not), even if it means being ostracized.
Feminist, not a feminist, it is all okay.