You probably think feminism is about you, don’t you, don’t you, you’re so vain…

Dear GMP,

There is something that truly upsets me about knee-jerk negative responses to the terms “feminism” and “feminists.” Sure, there is the annoying fact that they are mainly based on uninformed, stereotypical perceptions. Yes, there is the shallow reality that they are often perpetuated just because they are the “cool” thing to think. But what bothers me the most is the level of hostility and anger felt towards an entire group of people, as if we feminists are all the same, and are all anti-men.

Here’s a thought: maybe feminist doesn’t mean “man hater.” Maybe feminism is about the fact that it isn’t all about men, for once.

And here is my question: Is that not okay with you? Can there not be a term that refuses to be defined purely by its relation to men? Are we not seeing the irony of your opinion of feminism here, one of the very reasons it is so important?

I am sick of this attitude and only just realizing it. Why do men always seem immediately defensive when I mention that I studied Women’s Studies in undergrad, want to further women’s rights, or simply that I identify myself as a feminist? To me, it’s not a big deal to be a feminist because I understand feminism and its goals. I know that every individual can choose how to live and define his or her feminism. And, most importantly, I know that the heart of feminism is solidarity and unification. It is about making the world better for everyone— all genders, races, ages, sexes, classes, etc. It isn’t about tearing anyone down, and it certainly isn’t about hate. So many men fail to recognize this, and I can’t understand why.

Need I say it? I think I need to. We are not villainizing you! Not at all! Until, of course, we say something you might not completely understand or agree with, and you get all flustered and defensive and say something stupid. Then, we might villainize you as an individual, but never as a group, and never as a simple response to your gender. Just remember, you aren’t dealing with bra-burning stereotypes, you are dealing with intelligent women who are intent on improving life for everyone and who are working hard to do so.

A lot of times, words seem to be a way to create change, whether they be in speeches or on the Internet. All Jenn Pozner was trying to do on Twitter was explain something that she thought was important, something that is clearly important to her, in order to make a positive difference. Honestly, that’s generally all feminists are ever trying to do. It’s not about you, it’s about us all. Please remember that, GMP. It’d be good for you, it’d be good for me, it’d be good for all of us.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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