If you are a feminist, chances are that you’ve met someone who is not a feminist, but… There are INAFBs* lurking in places you’d never expect, like the position of New Zealand’s Minister for Women. They believe in gender equality, they tell us, but they’re most certainly not feminists!
Oh. Right. Okay. And how does that work exactly?
Generally, kind of like this:
“I’m not a feminist, but I believe in gender equality. I don’t hate men, so I’m definitely not a feminist. I mean, can we just be humanists? I believe that all human beings should be equal.”
“I've never called myself a feminist. I'm not interested in being a flag-waver, I'm not interested in having colleagues who get there because they're a woman, and they're the token one. That diminishes our contribution, and I don't ever want anyone to look at me and say 'she's there because she's a female'. I'm quite comfortable with [chivalry] and I think that's probably why a real feminist wouldn't call me a feminist."
I just. You can’t make this shit up.
Never mind that the very definition of feminism is the belief in the equality of the genders. Nor that the belief in gender equality wouldn’t really be a thing without the tireless and dangerous work of feminists. Nor that whether or not it’s sexist and/or patronising for a man to open a door for a woman is about the most trivial and ridiculous “feminist issue” of all.
Forget systemic oppression of women, the legalisation of abortion, trans rights, the never-ending gender pay gap, our revolting statistics of various kinds of violence perpetrated against women… OPENING DOORS! OPENING DOORS IS WHAT FEMINISM IS ALL ABOUT.
Why, INAFBs? Just why?
The most common answer, when you deconstruct the various false narratives? Because men. Because “feminists are man-haters”. Because men laugh at feminists. Because being a feminist might make people think I’m unfeminine, and “men don’t like unfeminine women”. Because being a feminist might make people think I’m a lesbian. Because patriarchal society has vilified and ridiculed feminism – because it poses a threat to the male-dominant status quo, which penalises women. Because I’m worried about what men will think of me if I call myself a feminist.
I wonder – if we stopped caring so much about what men thought of us, would more of us identify as feminists?
As exhausting as it is to discuss feminism with INAFBs, thankfully there are people like The Sydney Morning Herald’s Annabel Crabb to prevent our eyes from rolling entirely out of our heads.
Why is an INAFB not a feminist? Take it away, Annabel.
"Oh, I don't choose to label myself as a feminist because I don't feel that labels are useful which is ironic really seeing as I have feminism primarily to thank for the fact that my possession of mammary glands no longer labels me as suitable only for domestic and reproductive work but also other things like voting and having a job for which I am entitled to be paid fairly and from which I will not be summarily sacked if I get married as was still the case in Australia quite a startlingly short period of time ago and I just believe in equality between the sexes which is – in this day and age – an entirely unremarkable and risk-free thing to say thanks to the efforts of those who went before me, but doesn't always pan out especially in the home where women do twice as much domestic work as men do which continues to have a weird skewing effect on our equal-minded workforce by bringing about certain unintended consequences like lots of women working part-time in jobs for which they are ferociously over-qualified because it's the only way they can manage to stay in the workforce and not be driven to the very edge of sanity itself by the knowledge that when they get home they have to do four loads of washing and make a Viking ship out of paddle pop sticks, and beyond that I'm just interested in doing my best and working hard at my job which I only have because not very long ago some feminists made a fuss and refused to shut up which is why I am now a politician/lawyer/police officer/loss adjuster/engineer and not a scullery maid."
Feminist: the thing not to be since women actually got some rights and could decide what to be.
Oh. So since feminism, then.
* The INAFB category does not generally include womanists or womynists.