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The F Word

April 5, 2010

One of the things that’s always really interested me about women in metal, and in music in general (and, hey, we’ll throw shitty pop culture out there too), is the phrase, “I’m not a feminist, but…” precluding some exceptionally feminist statement. In music, this might be, “I’m not a feminist, but I think [insert musician’s name here] should be recognized more for her talent and less for her boobs,” or “I’m not a feminist, but I think women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

This “I’m not a feminist, but” junk really just means the Crazy Pat Robertsons of the world have won, you know. That jerk, as you may know, once said this: “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

Which is, of course, true. And what’s more metal than that?

In all seriousness, though, why do you think people still shy away from the F word? Why is feminism deemed irrelevant in circumstances where it might give people the language to discuss experiences thoroughly influenced by gender? Why is it that people still have to explain what being a feminist means to those who seem like allies? In short: why are we still so afraid of the F word? Are we so post-feminist that we don’t need it? If so, what other term should we use?

Morla, the ancient one

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 2:37 am

    I’ve been iffy about calling myself a feminist for years, and it’s only recently that I realised that I’ve been doing so.

    I think it was because, I used to get a lot of negative comments about being a feminist any time I expressed some wholly feminist statement. So many people seem to associate feminism with man-hating. I also kind of dislike labelling myself as anything, and there were so many different forms of feminism, many I didn’t always agree with, that I thought simply using that word was misleading or wrong. I think it’s also just the fact that it denotes femininity, some people take this as excluding masculinity. Not realising that hey… men can be feminists too! I know a few guys that share my views to a great extent but still would never dream of calling themselves a feminist. I knew ONE guy who did though.

    I also remember being verbally attacked online by some “male rights network”, on Bebo, for being a “man-hating lesbian ugly feminist etc” even though I hadn’t mentioned feminism anywhere on my profile, just things like being anti-patriarchy.

    I realise now though that shying away from the word is only self-destructive, and that essentially, all the sub-categories aside, I AM a feminist and there shouldn’t be any shame in it.

    • June 17, 2010 2:58 am

      I think what you’re recounting here is a really common experience, unfortunately. I’m a pretty anti-label person myself, save for sociopolitical situations where labels can benefit more than just myself. Being a feminist does welcome, for others (some of whom may be naysayers), dissections of what this means. It does mean that immediately you will be lumped in with the so-called “bad seeds,” aka, anyone who doesn’t adhere to your own definition of what it means within the broader meaning of the term. To me, this is okay. It means we’re facilitating dialogue rather than alienation by not subsuming our own vision of “Feminism” to that of the person who might be critical. It’s an opportunity for education. And any opportunity for education is an opportunity for change. Yay!

  2. prettyinblack permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:47 pm

    I happily call myself a feminist. I always have, and have worn that “label” proudly. Labels aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

  3. July 7, 2010 2:50 pm

    I think a big problem with this is that there are a fair number of feminists out there that tend to use it as an excuse for man-hating more than they do for any benefit to women in general. My one friend, let’s call her Leia, who’s an avid feminist casually refers to women like this as “feminazis” and insists that they shouldn’t be considered the norm. I agree with her, but sometimes it’s the people who are the loudest who have the most prevailing voice, and these people who make the “I’m not a feminist, but…” statements might be worried about being lumped in with that crowd.

    Here’s an example. My university has a Women’s Centre which is basically somewhere women can go to talk about gender-specific issues they might be having and to potentially get medical/psychological help for things they might be going through. About a year or two ago, Leia, the same friend I mentioned above got the idea to start a Men’s Centre, as she knows a fair number of guys that have suffered some kind of abuse in their lives and don’t really have many options in the area on places to get help. What happened when she proposed the idea to the university? The Women’s Centre vehemently opposed it, constantly saying that it was a mockery and that men don’t have to go through the same things that women do, and thus don’t deserve the same kind of outlet. Since that time, Leia won’t refer to herself as a feminist anymore, as she shudders at the though of being lumped in with the people she just had to deal with.

    Basically, the point to this long-winded post is that feminists are unfortunately one of many groups where the extremists can ruin things for the rest of the group (and I say this as both a metalhead and Christian).

    • July 7, 2010 6:28 pm

      While I get your point about extremism among many who share common values alienating those who might agree with many of these tenets, I guess I question why the response to feeling alienated is to drop out of the movement and to respond with alienation in kind. (Note: I despise the term “femininazi” because it implies that somehow militant feminism is equal to autocracy/fascism/totalitarianism, which just isn’t the case. There’s on ONE WAY to be, even in feminism’s more militant, separatist parts. There’s no singular guiding force that tells people what to do. Not to mention that feminists have not killed millions of innocent, sentient people.) The way I see it is if you don’t like the direction a group is taking things, you engage in discussion and change it. I think sometimes feminism is viewed too much as a unilateral belief system, and that’s a huge reason why so many women and men feel like it doesn’t apply to their lives. But there are many ways to be and live your life a feminist without ascribing to stringent requirements.
      – Morla, the ancient one

      • July 7, 2010 6:31 pm

        I completely agree with your entire comment. I think the ultimate problem is that at the end of the day, a lot of people are just incapable of being level-headed about anything.

    • Mikal permalink
      November 8, 2011 10:12 pm

      @The Overmatt re: mens support center. honestly some women who call themselves feminists or equal righters cant hold their equal rights. by which i mean women who think they hav so much to go through in life how cud a man ever understand and that men are emotionally and intellectually inferior; was the idea actually blocked or did the uni support their view? everyone needs support and for these women to think it was a mockery of their priveledge (trust me ladies a support center isnt a right as so many seem to think) and to devalue what is a drastically under-represented service demeans their own. equal rights means what it says and denying men the access to support women enjoy is not equal. on the other hand a lot of women i know use the word feminist to describe themselves both in my professional and private lives. most treat and are treated equally i’m glad to say.

  4. July 13, 2010 11:52 pm

    So, so, so true. People have a hard time seeing nuances. They like things to be black and white. I think it’s important not to support that method of thinking because it’s limiting and just leads to hostility.

  5. rosemaryhell permalink
    August 18, 2010 1:22 pm

    I’m a feminist metal fan! Sometimes it’s hard, but then I just have a good laugh at all the masculine posturing and I feel much better. And I do know other feminist metal fans in Britain.

    Enjoying your blog very much.

  6. Heathre permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:20 pm

    Pat Roberson is an idiot and does not speak for me.

    Why is it so offensive that there are women who don’t want to be labeled feminist? I’m sick of feminism being something I have to like, rather than choose to like. I’m sick of feminism being shoved down my throat. I’m sick of every time I read a post like this, I get charged. I shouldn’t have to prove myself, and feel powerless over this.

    I don’t think some of the shit feminist get is cool. I don’t like it when people turn the feminist label in to a “bad” word: “Oh don’t be such a feminist.” I don’t like that people say, “empowerment is good, but you can’t be a feminist.” Being a feminist should be a choice. I feel feminism and anti-feminism is just yelling at each other and not getting anywhere. Just jerking each other off.

    As much as feminism has given me some awesomeness, and I am grateful for that, feminism really turns me off. And no. I don’t think that all feminist are a bunch of man haters, ugly, unfunny, et cetera… Sure, some of my reasons are lame, and some aren’t. It should be with what I feel comfortable with.

    • August 31, 2010 1:04 am

      What we’re saying here isn’t that it’s offensive to not claim the term “feminist” for oneself. What we’re saying is that it’s interesting how the term has been coopted by those who seek to be divisive, and this has a direct correlation to people not claiming the term when they do in fact believe in gender equality. If there’s anything this blog aims toward it’s refuting the idea that there are “requirements” for being a feminist. Or for being a metal fan. Our version of feminism is what people make of it, but we do think it’s important to take the term back from the haters and the Palins who have bastardized its meaning.

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