I have a secret.
It's dark. It's dirty. And admitting it could mean getting shunned by women who I love and respect.
Luckily, I'm not famous so nobody is going to publicly rip me a new one when I admit this dirty secret out loud, in public.
And I don't have to worry about a well-meaning (or malicious) journalist asking me this question and then twitter going crazy because how dare she.
Alright, here it is...
I am not a feminist.
There I said it.
And no, you don't get to interject and ask me if I believe this and that and this other thing, and then tell me that well, yes you ARE a feminist, because if you think those things then you are a feminist.
And no you don't get to tell me that I've been brainwashed by men to be anti-women, thank you very much.
I mean maybe I was brainwashed at one point.
But trust me, I have worked hard to undo that. In fact, I struggle daily to pull apart the pieces of my reality that are true and separate them from the fiction. And while part of that is due to sexism, the greater part of that struggle is from being raised in a system that wanted to keep me and every other cog in the machine down.
And that includes men. And transgender persons. And non-binary persons. And all other persons that define themselves as anything other than female.
Listen, if you think for a second that white male factory workers got let off the hook and weren't brainwashed in any way to be less then their true and beautiful selves, then you've got to think some more.
Across the board, across time and space, since the beginning of large scale disparity in wealth, both men and women have been oppressed by the super-wealthy.
We are the leverage.
We are the bicycle wheel that they use to speed towards supremacy. And this crosses all cultural and political boundaries. If you've got a country with some people making billions, and others making dollars, then you have oppression. And it isn't just against the women. It's against everyone.
I need to just say this again because I think it's really really really really really really really important.
Oppression is not the exclusive domain of women.
And please don't misinterpret this.
I'm not saying that by focusing on women's rights, and female oppression, we're erasing the oppression of others. It doesn't really work that way. One person's struggle doesn't invalidate another person's struggle.
But by ONLY considering the oppression of women, we create a void.
We erase the other human struggles in our mind and in doing so we don't see the whole picture. And I think, I'm not sure, but I think that the solution is in the big picture. I think that we find our humanity, our compassion, our understanding, when we see the whole, not the singular.
These days admitting to not being a feminist is like wilfully putting a scarlet letter on your breast.
But I'm fine with that. I think. Having felt like a black sheep for the better part of my 33 years on planet earth, it doesn't really matter if that status continues.
Why don't I?
Why aren't I?
Because just like I don't want there to be such a thing as Manist, I don't want to have to be a Feminist.
I don't want to participate in women's only festivals. And women's only groups. And women's only courses. I want men and women to have equal rights. To both feel safe, and included, and worthy.
I want men whose issues and intricacies are not represented at all in the media to be included. To be no longer invisible. Just as I want to see the accurate and equal representation of women on screen and the end of the hilariously illogical pay gap.
I also want to see the diverse array of humans from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds to be treated with equal respect and equal rights.
I want to see the end of racism, the end of sexism, the end of abuse, the end of genocide, the end of oppression, the end of warfare, the end of casual violence, the end of rape, the end of... you know, all the shitty things that humans do to each other and the planet.
Don't even get me started on what we do to the planet.
If the Mother Earth made action movies they would all be about how animals took back the land and kicked us all into outer space where we were collectively left to rot in a black hole.
But I digress.
Point is, to give myself a label that includes one gender and not the other, doesn't feel right to me.
When I try to say it out loud, it doesn't ring true.
It straight up feels "not me". Fake. False. Disingenuous.
So why should I HAVE TO use that label in order to be a good modern woman who cares about women's rights?
Just in general, I'm not much for labels.
I don't want to be told what to do, and I don't want to be told what I am. I don't want to try and define myself by a single word, or even a series of words. I don't want to be put in a box. I want to be free to evolve and express and work towards what I believe is important, without the need for a tidy set of words that make everyone else comfortable.
We use labels to divide.
To draw lines in the sand.
To create tidy packages that we can tie up with string.
Ah okay, you're that thing. And I'm this thing. So we're not going to agree on these things. Okay, so now we can be acquaintances and not friends. And probably I'm going to secretly judge you for being this thing and not that thing.
It's the same as saying you're a conservative or a liberal.
The second you say you're a conservative, all the liberals in the room are aghast, like you've just admitted to having leprosy. They now get to decide that you are less than, they are better than, and you need your head checked. And they are now comfortable using a full array of horrific insults to describe you and your belief system behind your back.
But what happens when we take away the labels?
When we take away the labels, we make room again for complexity and conversation.
If you can't find out who I am by the label that I choose to use, then you've got to get to know me. We have to talk about a wide range of topics. We've got to exchange stories. Argue our perspectives. Make concessions. Discover the good and the bad. And then you can make your judgement about who I am.
And so no, I'm not going to make it easy for anyone to quietly put me into a category and then treat me just as they would every other person in that category.