Posted in Alexa Day, Gender, Musings
July 27, 2014

I Do Need Feminism and Hope I Always Will

No idea where feminism is headed, but I'm glad it's been where it's been.
No idea where feminism is headed, but I’m glad it’s been where it’s been.

By Alexa Day

So last week, I was introduced to this hashtag: #WomenAgainstFeminism. I checked out this gallery to figure out what they’re all about, and I have to say I was a little disturbed by it.

The gallery features 15 young women holding up little handwritten signs describing all the various reasons for their animosity against feminism. They like chivalry. They don’t want their sex lives politicized. Most disappointing, they seem to think that one cannot enjoy sex and be feminist.

I think everyone in the gallery is at best a little confused about what feminism is.

Listen, I get it. When I was a college student, just half a lifetime ago, I was somewhat dismayed by feminism. Not only did it seem joyless and more than a little angry, there was a strong thread of weight room know-it-all running through it. You know what I mean. While you’re going merrily about your business, someone comes along and says, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Thankfully, I have learned a thing or two about feminism since then. And thankfully, feminism is not static. My mom’s feminism is different from mine. Her mom’s was different from both of ours. My niece’s feminism will hopefully be different, too.

I don’t want to be the know-it-all in the weight room, but this is what feminism has done for my family.

My grandmother needed a harder, angrier feminism to climb the professional ladder in New York’s fashion industry and bring her daughters to America. My mom’s all-or-nothing feminism, I think, was designed to keep the momentum up. Her mother had kids and a career, she had kids and two careers, and by God, her daughter was going to have it all, too. After trying to drink from that particular firehose long enough to get through law school, I turned to a new feminism, one where you can have as much of “it all” as you want, when you want it.

As far as I’m concerned, you can have sex, enjoy chivalry, cook for your boyfriend (or your girlfriend or whoever else) and still be a feminist. You can swear off sex, shun chivalry, never cook anything, and still be a feminist. You can be a man and still be a feminist. There’s always going to be someone out there to say otherwise. Sometimes, that person’s a woman. Feminism says other people — male or female — don’t get to tell me how to be a woman. It says that I get to handle my own business. It encourages me to help other women handle theirs. I do my part by writing “slutcelebratory” erotic romance and telling people what law school did to me, in the hope that my choices help inform theirs. They’ll do what I did or they won’t, but thanks to the feminists who came before me, both options are available, and we can all investigate them more thoroughly.

Because of the tremendous (and ongoing) efforts of a great many feminists, both male and female, we’re able to live up to that promise so many of us heard as little girls. We can do anything we set our minds to. And we don’t have to do it alone.

That includes participation in tumblr blogs insisting that feminism is now unnecessary.

So I’m not going to tell anyone they can’t be an anti-feminist. It’s my job to protect choice, and that’s a choice. I will tell the world that I think we need to examine what feminism is and what it has been and what it might one day be.

If my niece’s generation is going to abandon feminism, they should at the very least know what they’re missing.

Choose Lady Smut today. Feminism’s never been so much fun.

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  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    People have the right to be idiots, blind to the privileges they have and ignorant of the history that got them there and the women and men who fought and, yes, died to make it so — and I have the right to despise that idiocy and I do. I will be a feminist until the job is done and NO ONE has to be defined or limited by their gender.

    If I could I’d persuade them to watch Iron-Jawed Angels.

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
    • Post authorKel

      I’m always darkly amused by people who don’t seem to understand that telling someone “I don’t need feminism” is the same as saying “I don’t need equality.”

      I’m also a little appalled at their ignorance, but that’s a common occurance, so I’m used to that. I do get to snicker when they get all indignant at their public displays of ignorance being gently pointed out, though. That’s my right as a human, and I’m by doG keeping it. Idiocy is worth despising.

    • Post authorAlexa Day

      The best part, to me, was how many of the women looked like they were in college, somewhere THEY COULD NOT BE without feminists. But we are on our way around in a nice big circle unless these poorly informed individuals are better educated. It saddens me that this education is not a higher priority.

      Reply to Alexa Day
      • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

        There are also those working to destroy education: an ignorant populace can’t fight for their rights.

        Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorLiz Everly

    Well said, my friend. 😉

    Reply to Liz Everly
  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    Feminist ignorant or feminist bullies–they’re all annoying. In a way, it’s funny that we don’t require students to learn at least the highlights of feminist history in America high schools. Part of what makes erotic romance so interesting to me is in thinking about how erotic romance builds or complicates this feminist history. Now…back to the sexy!

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      Oh yeah! But don’t start me on all the things we should be requiring in the American high school. My list is quite long indeed. 😉

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Very well said, Alexa. It’s a sad commentary when young girls today think defining oneself as a feminist still only means participating in bra burnings and refusing to shave your legs and armpits. And separating out enjoying sex from feminism? It just shows how little they know.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I think it starts in college. As recently as the early 90s, I was taught — formally — that Dworkin feminism was feminism. If anyone felt differently, they certainly kept quiet about it. I will not be quiet about it. 🙂

      Speaking of college, toward the end of my first year at U.Va., a group of women none of us knew came up to our suite in the dorms. They were members of the University’s first class of women, they said. They explained that they’d lived in my suite their first year and wanted to have a nostalgic look around. They hung out for a while with me and my suitemates and shared some stories before going back down the stairs. Once they left, we all looked at each other and said the same thing.

      We all thought they’d be older.

      Reply to Alexa Day

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