If you believe women are equal to men, guess what, you’re a feminist…or so pop culture says. This slogan is part of an effort to make the “f-word” more accessible, to help closeted feminists come out…but at a certain point, doesn’t it just dilute the word?
Most people believe in equality – even if they lack the resources to understand what that means. Since gender is so engrained in our society, it’s hard to recognize sexism without someone showing you the way. And even then it can be hard to reconcile that information with everything you already knew about “how things are done.” That’s why this pressure to identify as a feminist if you believe in equality seems like it’s just forcing people’s hands before they’re ready. And I’m not sure there’s any value in making people believe they’re there when really and truly they’re not.
Feminism is complicated and it’s hard to establish any one rule to identify other feminists, but I think it’s more than just believing in the ideal of equality. It means recognizing that gender is a social construct, that the world as we know it is sexist, and that sexism does not need to be tolerated. What this looks live varies tremendously and, as Lena Dunham explained, “A huge part of being a feminist is giving other [people] the freedom to make choices you might not necessarily make yourself.” So if your definition of equality doesn’t include that freedom, you might not actually be a feminist.