You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Quoted badly from memory from The Princess Bride.

This is a post about people who wrote articles or give interviews saying “Why I am not a feminist”. I can only think of the reasons why a woman might say that.
1- She is a bit dim
2- She is spectacularly unobservant ( or has been living an extremely sheltered existence)
3- She thinks feminism means something different to what I think it means

Today’s example is Dr Brooke Magnanti. I saw this linked from Twitter and knew what I wanted to write just from the little summary that comes up.

Dr Brooke Magnanti’s name starts with Dr, so we can probably assume a certain level of intelligence. The reason that we know her name at all (and the reason that the Telegraph publishes things that she writes) is because she is behind the Belle Du Jour columns, so we can also assume that he existence has not been unusually sheltered. So I can only conclude that she does not think it means what I think it means.

” Loads of women don’t see mainstream feminism including them, so they go on and live the lives they were living anyway – without feeling the need to label themselves as feminists”

Feminism is not something that needs to “include you”. It is a set of beliefs. You either believe these things or you don’t.

Feminism is not like the Conservative party. You don’t have to put your name down, or pay your dues, or go to the meetings, or receive the newsletter. Just as people can consider themselves politically conservative (small c) without agreeing with David Cameron’s last speech, one can be feminist (small f) without having any liking for the writing of Caitlin Moran, or even Germaine Greer. You don’t have to sign up to the Feminist party. You don’t have to pay your dues or go to meetings or read the newsletter. It’s a set of beliefs.

I’ve posted about this before, but in summary this is all I think you need in order to be a feminist.

1 You think that people should be equally valued and respected, and given equal opportunities, regardless of their gender.
2 You observe that this is not currently the case.
3 You want it to be the case.

That’s just my interpretation of course, but that is what we are taking about here – my definition versus the definition of all of the people who seem to think that there is a Feminist Club run by mean girls.

Here’s an easy test. If someone says “You can’t be a feminist if…”, they are probably wrong. Unless the sentence ends with “… You think men and women are not or should not be equal”.


Apologies if any damn you autocorrect moments have slipped in, I’m on the train with the WordPress app on my phone


4 thoughts on “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  1. I clicked through as I love a bit of Dread Pirate Roberts in tight trousers. But, on this post, that is probably terribly sexist! I would not consider myself a feminist….but would call myself ‘an equalist’. Although, I spend a lot of time thinking women are far superior to men and in despair that we let them run the country whilst at the same time getting cross that working whilst being at home to raise my child is really damn hard.

    Perhaps the fourth reason is that we a bit confused as to how we balance equality in today’s world.

    • I mean the blog post, not the comment above. I don’t believe ‘equalism’ is a substitute for feminism. It’s all very well saying “I believe in equality” but equality doesn’t exist and the reason that it doesn’t it different for different groups and each one has it’s own different battles to fight.

      • When some people say “equalism” (in reference to gender/ sex) they mean what I mean when I say feminism.

        But when some people say “equalism” they mean “men have it just as bad as women”.

        So it is a difficult word to use. Because I do believe that the current state of affairs is bad for men, and a more equal world would benefit men as well. But I think it world be ridiculous to suggest that things are as bad for men (as a group) as they are for women.

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