This is a response to a blog-acquaintance of mine’s post, The Tequila Feminist. I’m writing it here rather than putting a lengthy comment. His blog is really good, though.
In the post, Joe writes about how he went on a date with a woman who used the phrase, “I’m not a feminist, but.” This phrase is familiar to anyone who works in the same circles as I do, whether that be feminist circles, or women’s and gender studies circles, or just social justice in general.
It’s not actually the “I’m not a feminist, but” women that bother me. They are entitled to their opinions, even if I think they are a bit misguided. These people are okay (if a bit annoying)… though feminism does not mean that women hate men, “masculism” is not really a thing, and egalitarianism is not at odds with feminism. The “Whatever” feminists are not too bad either, though I feel that they, too, are a bit misguided. They acknowledge some of the structural factors and that there is inequality.
It is the “Certainly not feminist” women who deny that any inequality exists between women and men that gets my blood boiling. “We’ve gotten all of our rights. We’ve got the same rights as everyone else,” Stacey Dash says. “Feminists seem to think that women’s wombs should be empty,” another woman says. “Feminists are a side show,” yet another claims. They are the ones that prove that just because a politician is a woman does not mean she is for women’s rights (I’m looking at you Mary Fallin and Jan Brewer).
One of the things that Joe noted in his post is that feminism does not mean rejection of the feminine. He also went so far as to acknowledge that there is wiggle room within feminism. The dude is, as the kids say, “woke.”
In contrast to the women in the videos above, I am a “Hell, yeah” feminist, though I did not need the quiz to tell me that. I would consider most of my friends to be “Okay, Sure” Feminists if they are not “Hell, yeah” feminists.
I have that I am a feminist on my online dating profile. Some have advised me to remove that descriptor from my online dating profile. In fact, I wrote a paper in grad school about how feminists have to “come out” when dating men since there is such misinformation about feminism out there (see the image at the top of the post). My thought is that my feminism is a core part of my identity. If a man is going to believe that because I identify as a feminist that must mean I don’t shave or wear deodorant, then I don’t want to mess with him anyway.
In terms of men who self-identify as feminists on their online dating profiles, I have found that they fit into a couple of different, non-exclusive categories.
- They are “crunchy.” By that, I mean that they may forego wearing shoes, have dreadlocks, be vegan, and are really outdoorsy. I imagine they smell like patchouli.
- They are polyamorous and searching for another lady. They may also be into some types of kink.
- They are cheating on their girlfriend or wife behind her back.
- They think that “feminist” will be an indicator that they love eating pussy. It may be their only claim to feminism. It may just be a ploy to get women.
- They get feminism and women’s rights and all that stuff.
I am undecided as to whether I should have a strong dose of skepticism for those who self-identify as feminists. After all, if they are cheating on a woman, that reads as more “disrespect of women” than “feminist” to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love feminist men. They are awesome and I fully hope to be with one long-term some day. But I know way more men that are feminist in their words and deeds who do not claim the label than those who claim the label. Much like Joe says that he would not want to educate a date on feminism, I don’t want to test a date on their claim of feminism. I’m not going to give them the quiz to see if they are a “Hell Yeah” or “Certainly Not” feminist.
On the other hand, I’m not sure how to handle some feminist men. One of my feminist male colleagues recently asked me why I am not angry all the time. “If I was a woman,” he said, “I’d be constantly angry.” My answer was to basically shrug and say “What good would it do?” How would my anger lead to any systemic change? Gender inequality does bother me. My cool-headed demeanor should not be mistaken for ambivalence or apathy. I think that if I were to be angry all the time, that would be more harmful than productive. It would confirm the stereotype that feminists are just angry and unhappy women. Add in my being single at 30, my not wanting children, my having an IUD I got for free under Obamacare, and my having two cats and you are basically building the woman of Rush Limbaugh’s nightmares. Did you know that I help cause natural disasters? Well, me and the gays, that is. I can’t claim all the credit.
Returning to my response to the blog post, one part stood out to me.
It is possible to let me open the car door for you. It is possible to let me take you by the hand. It is possible to let me lead you. It is possible to let me do all of these things, you feminist. It is possible to allow me the pleasure of treating you delicately.
Indeed, it would be possible to let you [man] do all these things. I would know that you believe I am perfectly capable of doing things myself. I [feminist] am capable of being lead without feeling like I sacrificed my beliefs. The right guy could lead me anywhere. I love holding hands. And if you feel you need to, you are more than welcome to open the car door for me. Likewise, you would have to be open to me doing all of those things for you. Some men cannot abide being led by a woman. They want some girl (not a woman) who is dependent on them. That’s not me. I’m a strong, self-sufficient, feminist woman — and my strength and independence would be some of the things that a man would love and admire most about me. Well, those attributes and my boobs.
 I do both. Gasp!
 I make that caveat only because, if a guy were to open his car door for me, I would assume that there was something busted about his car door to where only he could get it open. Also, despite being raised in Texas (where there are some traditions), no one has ever opened the car door for me on a date. One guy did not even clean out his car and my feet had to rest on piles of fast food detritus.