“Well if by stegosaurus you mean a herbivorous quadruped, I do try to eat vegetarian and am a natural pacifist but as you can see only have two legs. But if you mean the type of armoured, horned roof-lizard that most have come to picture when they think of a stegosaurus, then I would have to say emphatically that I am NOT because I absolutely abhor heights and so would never be a roof-dweller; and my skin is really quite smooth and supple, as I go to great lengths to maintain it….”As compared with if someone had asked for example “Are you Barbadian?” To which one might calmly say “Yes. I was born there of two Barbadian parents."
You see the difference.
The identification with feminism seems almost as problematic as if one were to try and identify with being a prehistoric lizard. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a prehistoric lizard. (So don’t write and tell me that your neighbour’s adopted son was a stegosaurus and quite frankly was a charming creature who always helped you off the bus.) But why does the idea of feminism cause us to become as bristled as…well yes…a um…horned, prehistoric lizard? Forgive me but we’re working with an analogy here, albeit a strange one.
I decided to start my bright, new, shiny blog off with this question because it is a point of concern for me. But mostly because it is a point of identification for me. I am a feminist. I say that as easily and as proudly as I say “I am a Bajan.” “I am a woman.” “I am black.” There is no confusion. And it is not because ‘feminist’ is as simple an identifier as these other examples are. (Although arguably ‘woman’ and ‘black’ also have their degrees of being.) To suggest that would be naïve. It is because I have no anxiety over how other people may define it.
Feminism is a belief in the right of women to have political, social, and economic equality with men. I rest easy in that definition, and don’t need to rush to declare “Oh but I’m not one of the crazy, bra-burning ones who wear Birkenstocks and don’t shave their pits.” First, based on our definition, who would proudly claim to not be a feminist? “Well no…I don’t think that women should enjoy equal social and political citizenship. It’s really all a load of nonsense. Soon they’ll want to grow beards! And then where would we be?” I would suggest that it’s all the non-feminists who should feel stupid and marginalized. And really, if there do happen to be roving bands of Birkenstock-wearing, armpit hair-braiding feminists out there roasting their dinner over bra-fueled fires, and all we have in common is that we believe in equal human, economic and political rights, then I’m proud to have that in common.
I’m not afraid of scaring men off by declaring myself a feminist. Anyone who that easily wets his trousers and runs away is not very useful to have around in an emergency anyway. And my goal is not to seem as demure and inoffensive as possible. Of course, I can always see the running picture in several people’s minds (and by people I mean men) when they discover that not only are you a feminist, but you have the nerve to announce it to the public (!), rather than sticking to reading your propagandist pamphlets in the basement with the others. It’s as if they’re watching their prize horse run the Kentucky Derby, and all of a sudden, she buckles, felled by the broken leg that is feminism. Argh…so close! But now…useless.
Well, don’t worry. Call yourself a feminist. They’re not allowed to shoot you for it.