In a brave lil’ act of Internet discourse management, Huffington Post writer and editor Rebecca Searles posted a sweet graphic November 1, 2013. The Internet (mostly Facebook and other social media) have been proliferating the image these past two weeks and the comments have been spectacular. Searles apparently got fed up with the unceasing madness of feminist discourse and suggested a simplification, giving two simple steps to knowing whether or not you are in fact a feminist.
First, ask yourself if you’re a feminist. Then, ask, “Do you believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities?” If so, then you’re a feminist, and if not, then you’re a big ol’ jerkbag.
Although an oversimplification, it is an awesome, bright light in the muddy waters of feminist theory and controversy. Who’d have thought many years of resentment, argument, and overall dude versus lady dickery could be boiled down into one simple question? By Searles’ logic, I am a feminist, mostly because it’s a no brainer: men and women should have equal rights. Now, was that so hard?
Apparently so! I scanned the comments of the Huffington Post and saw a good many likes and dislikes on the Facebook regarding the graphic. It seems that, according to Internet folks, a simplification of feminist discourse discounts and disempowers a lot of the heavy hitting theories and ideologies. Also, some folks say it’s impossible to simplify such a complicated matter such as gender equality because of so many other factors. And then there was this one dude who complained about losing his rights to hold doors open for ladies.
I am starkly in favor of this simplified theory. Yes, there are many sorts of feminist ideologies, and as an academic discipline Feminism makes for fun (albeit dangerous) arguments and writing assignments. It’s not the case that Searles wants to erase Feminism; mostly, it seems she wants to take attention away from the folks who call themselves feminists but actually just hate men (often for good reason, although often handled poorly via the media). Like all titles, “feminist” has harbored a bad name because of what Searles calls “bra-burning man-haters,” or at least because of people foisting the feminist label onto those particular ladies. Regardless of who called who a bad name first, the problem now is the misuse of feminist theory; at its core, it is principally about inequality of the sexes, and correcting that problem (it’s been a long, long time, can’t we just drop the fight already?).
There is a danger, generally, in calling oneself anything without knowing the history, politics, and theories behind such titles. I agree with Searles’ depiction of what it means to be a feminist, but I’m actually still wary, because I haven’t studied quite enough. I may not even be a humanist, no matter how much I believe we have to be equal (we’re not, biologically, but the least we can do is treat each other with the same respect), because every one of these terms has suffered from over-discourse. But I guess definitions vary person to person, so I could be one sort of feminist, and ignore the folks who only allow entry into their ideology once a certain level of knowledge is reached (because that’s also not equality, that’s segregation of intellect, which is also bad!). Internet friends, make your own calls, just stop hating on everyone!