I used to get insulted when people would say to me I must hate women because I no longer call myself a feminist nor will I support the feminist movement. I used to get so upset and hurt and irate when people would say I am a sexist for not being a feminist or am betraying myself or women for not being a feminist or I am a misogynist for no longer taking on the label of ‘feminist’.
Then I realized the people who were saying this to me was because they of course have a very different perspective of feminism. This very innocent almost sweet view of feminism and their projections were from a basis of being a stand for women. However, what can at first show up as seemingly cute naivete can get extremely vicious and violent and supposing at times and that is what I am speaking to here. I’m not saying all feminist are like this, I am speaking from my experience and not to bash anyone but rather to find compassion to ease the inner war of my own divisive view towards my fellow human beings. What I judge as a very limited view of feminism albeit with perhaps good intentions, can become the very root of scapegoating and dehumanizing anyone who is not feminist.
Feminism is not just about women’s rights. If it were, there would not be an issue. What I’m saying here is not even about feminism taking on men’s rights. Feminism does not have to stand for all it can stand for women as the leaders of the movement claim. The issue I take with feminism, and in my observation many including feminists themselves take with feminism is, the man hating, the acceptance of only certain women in feminism and the blatant disregard and forgetting of the history of feminism itself beginning with the suffragettes.
Now when I say I take issue with feminism I am speaking of critical thinking not dismantling feminism. Nothing, no movement, should be above critical thinking and critique. This is exactly what is necessary for a system of checks and balances with anything is critical thinking. I’m not saying ‘Down with feminism’. I just don’t care to anymore because feminism is just not my focus at all. As a society we will always have opposing views and everyone’s voice is valid whether I agree with the voice or not. Feminism yes has had benefits in society. There is also the reality that there have been damages made by the movement as well. It is inevitable. Everything comes with a ‘positive’ and a ‘negative’ so to speak. And to turn a blind eye to the negative does not make it go away, nor does it heal it, it simply allows it to grow. To pretend feminism has been this beautiful thing is to erase the very history of feminism and feminism in action throughout. To suppose it has had no benefit is to also not be with the reality of the movement.
I don’t share this to argue about feminism. My main focus is the human rights issues themselves. Women’s rights and men’s rights which stand on their own and anyone can unite to work together in them, MRA, feminist, anti-feminist, liberal, conservative, etc. We may not be able to find common ground to support each other on everything, however, there are ways of supporting the people themselves -ourselves- in the issues at hand.
What I’m specifically speaking to is the awareness for me is the people who are saying ‘You hate women’ for not supporting feminism. As I’ve said, in my experience, operating in often a very innocent view of feminism that is just looking at one aspect of feminism, the dictionary definition of feminism, rather than feminism in action. In this awareness, I can find compassion for those who from their perspective may have viewed me in a way that is not true to who I am. It pulls the war out of me a little bit more to have this awareness and allows me to not take those assumptions personal as they have nothing to do with me and everything to do with the persons relationship with and perception of feminism.
To be clear what I am sharing about right now has not come into my space lately at all. It’s been a long time since I’ve been told this. What I am doing here is looking back in my interactions to find compassion and clarity. My experience is there are one of three things happening when someone gets very upset for me no longer calling myself a feminist. One, the person has a very pure relationship with feminism are often but not always, very young filled with angst and the desire to really make a difference in this world. No matter the age, I believe people really want to make a difference and that is what activism is often ruled by. I believe these very people love women very much and have an empathy for seeing women succeed. I believe when they say I am hateful it’s really coming from a passion. I love passion. What does it look like to see them as coming from passion? For me it means realizing what they are saying has nothing to do with me, as I am clear that is not who I am. Instead what they are saying has everything to do with them speaking their passion from their perception that feminism is all things good in the world and for women. Now, I know that standing for women’s rights is not limited to feminism and existed before feminism. Human rights issues are carried by movements and they stand on their own as human rights issues. We can all support the specific human rights issues themselves with or without identifying with a movement. I don’t believe we should only communicate with those who identify how we identify. I can’t find growth in that for me personally. As a society we predominantly love women and have a high empathy for women and a wish to see women succeed. It’s pretty engrained in us. Identifying with a movement or not does not change that as a society we would much rather not see a woman harmed.
The second place people come from when they assume I must be against women for not being a feminist is, in my perception and experience, from a place of pain. This is usually when the conversation gets a bit more cruel than the assumption I don’t like women, and therefore I don’t like myself, because I’m not a feminist. This is when my gender was brought into question simply for not identifying as feminist, and many cruel and vicious things wished on me. Again, this is not present in my life now, I am simply looking to understand when I see this out in the world. I feel there must be feelings of betrayal based on a perception that feminism is the one way to support women. I’m not saying I agree, I am saying I am looking into how a person comes to these conclusions based on me not identifying as a feminist. There is cruelty in such exchanges which in my experience have been largely fueled by pain and not being able to understand why someone would not call themselves a feminist. To me, this perception is based on their passion with feminism. Now, this does not excuse the cruelty. Because after all, who I choose to be with someone has very little to do with that person and everything to do with who I choose to be. And, often this is unconscious because we do have passion as human beings and if a person is being cruel in defense of feminism perhaps it is because feminism is their perception of all that is right, anyone who does not fit that must be ‘wrong’. Most of us do this, myself included. And it takes digging to seek a way to challenge that which can be intense especially when it’s often deeply rooted in an adopted unconscious conversation. I do not share this to excuse anyone’s cruelty, absolutely not. Everyone is responsible for how they show up, I am just looking for my part in this. I also self care. I do not have to engage with the cruelty and I do not need to perpetuate the cruelty either.
The third place people come from, in my experience, when they project cruelty in the conversation because I am not identified as a feminist is from using activism as a way to hide being hurtful. This is the predominant way activism is being used, regardless of the label associated with activism albeit often unconsciously though it is also very much done consciously as well. Even so, I do believe there is still some unconsciousness as I do not believe human beings really want to be cruel to each other and that is why most are left hurting after such interactions. I have used activism this way myself. From this space, activism becomes a form of self avoidance. The politician, or seemingly ‘opposing’ view is dehumanized and being hurtful and hateful to these ‘opposite’ people is acceptable. In this way activism becomes an acceptable way to be abusive. That is when activism becomes dangerous. To me activism is to expand the conversation of compassion in myself and in the world. If I am not expanding compassion, then who am I really standing for?
I’m not here against feminism, I’m here as a critical thinker. When I share facts about the rhetoric in feminism which has had real harmful effects in society in relationships between men and women, I speak it to create conversations of healing. When I speak of the facts of the origins of feminism, the suffragettes, it is so that history is not washed out and the origins forgotten of how the Suffragettes harmed the Black community along with many others. Sharing facts and exploring the shadow side of feminism to seek social healing is not saying feminism should have never existed or push for feminism to end. Nor am I saying feminism has been the only thing that has contributed, it is simply one aspect my conversation is bigger than feminism and it includes looking at feminism as it has affected society. Sharing facts about this parts of feminism is not ‘anti feminism’ it is simply sharing facts. When we take the mentality that something cannot be questioned, feminism or anything else, that is not the way of living freely. That is the way of supporting indoctrination. I don’t need anyone to not be a feminist. I am speaking of a 100 year old movement that has had many impacts on us as human beings. Some good, some bad. There are feminists I highly respect such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia who support the movement and really believe feminism can become all that it has set out to be. They are critical thinkers and question the parts of feminism that must be questioned. If feminism can become that, it must first be questioned for the parts that do not work. I am not attached to feminism becoming anything or not, it is not my interest. And for those who are interested in feminism, it is vital to recognize that the dream Sommers and Paglia hold for feminism will not be possible without critical thinking. It will not be possible without looking into the shadow side and seeking healing. Again, I am not attached to the evolution of feminism, it is not my conversation. As for speaking of feminists, these days I am rarely speaking of people who identify as feminists unless it is to find roads of compassion within myself. I choose to take each human being as the individual. To me someone who identifies as a feminist is a human being first. Same for anyone who identifies in any political way. My looking into the sociological effects of feminism that have been harmful is simply a part of my bigger conversation of mindfulness and self love. Again, feminism is a very small part of that for me these days as feminism is just not the main focus. My focus is the fact that it is not necessary to dehumanize each other because of critical thinking, because of finding that nothing is perfect and everything must be questioned. We must question. It is how we grow.
My focus is self love and the powerful impact self love has on, of course my life, and society itself. When I say ‘compassion towards feminists’ what I am saying is compassion towards self. I frequently say here, ‘people who identify as feminist’ more so than ‘feminists’. As I said before, that is because I want to keep myself clear from dehumanizing someone who identifies as feminist because they are a person after all. They are the human beings I share this planet with. To me relationships are the most important experience of all existence. Familial relationships, friendships- which to me is also familial my friends are family to me-, romantic relationships, relationships with people I associate with daily, and relationships with people I see if only for a moment in time. To me the concept of ‘strangers’ is not real. I’m not saying from a place of throwing boundaries out of the window, I’m saying from a place of being able to be warm to people even if we are just passing by each other sharing a temporary train ride. How I treat someone is a reflection of who I am choosing to be on this planet and so it is very important to me how I relate with people. I believe it’s important to most if not all humans and we feel this in our body even if we are not aware. That desire to connect with each other in compassion.
Just as we speak of the carbon footprint, to me I call how I show up in society and in relating with other human beings my soul print. Just like every action I take has a real affect on this planet and leaves a lasting ripple effect so does my soul print. I am responsible for my soul print. Which starts with self. Another very important relationship is the relationship with self. Relationship with self is actually the root of all relationships. And this is where it all comes back to self love. When I take the time to be tender, forgiving, and loving towards myself, or rather be with the love I am, I can open my compassion just a little bit more each time. Compassion starts with self. Self love is the vital root of being able to sustain continuing to seek compassion and practicing being able to be compassionate with others. Maybe I can ask the person who is identified as a feminist and assuming something about me for not being one, why do you feel this way about me? What makes you believe I do not care for you? Or some other questions from a space of compassion to open up dialogue and perhaps some understanding.
My invitation is for those who are in frequent interactions in the gender politics conversation to open dialogue with people who identify as feminists from a space of compassion. I’m not inviting take on the movement, rather seeing the human being in the movement. Nor am I inviting take on abuse or cruelty, self care first. Nor shutting down one’s voice, my invitation is to find compassion while embracing one’s needed passion. And, it takes two. So, I am also inviting people who identify as feminists to open up inquiry from a space of wonder and compassion to those who do not identify as feminist. While I’m here inviting, I invite people who identify as Liberal, Conservative, Hillary supporters, Trump supporters to take a moment to search for compassion for the person that seemingly is ‘opposite’ of you. What allows us to say something cruel to another person, curse someone out, end relating with people over different political views? I have seen families torn apart over activism! How is that activism? When we are so right about our political perspective yet have no space for another person to have their political perspective without dehumanizing them? I know I have done this and there may be a part of me that still does this and I am looking at that too, closely when it comes up for me. I’m still looking at this in me. It’s hard. I want to be right. I want to champion human rights and so I do, however, it cannot be at the expense of humans. If I am saying, ‘You identify this way politically, therefore that means you hate kittens’ I am not being in reality but rather in my perception of who you in my eyes for not relating with my perception as ‘THE way’. We need each other. Feminists, Men’s Rights Activists, Anti-Feminists, Egalitarians, Humanists, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Liberals, Conservatives, Hillary supporters, Trump supporters. Yes, we all need each other. Every one of us holds a piece of the puzzle. We each hold an important part in supporting human community thriving and moving forward. We are an incredible species I mean Go Team Human. And after all I think it is important to remember we are indeed all on the same team here. The human team. Now of course this is merely an invitation to question who we are dehumanizing and maybe look at why. There may even be absolute justified reasons for not understanding someone, however, at the end of the day we are each responsible for how we show up and that tells us who we are choosing to be. For example, if someone is racist towards me, I do not need to take it on or stay in the environment and I do not need to lash out either. I can leave myself whole and choose who I want to be in the moment and self care. Who I choose to be, IS me. It’s easy to blame others for how I show up, especially politically ‘They are so xyz, of course I’m going to lash out at them’. But really, I am being xyz and excusing myself doing so because I have dehumanized them to the point of giving myself a get out of jail free card to be cruel. I am responsible for how I show up, not the other person and their perspective. Because these conversations are bigger than us and yet each and every single human being is vital in this conversation because even with similarities, no one has the same perspective as another. I believe very single perspective can teach us something new about ourselves, even if that means what we are clear we are not in alignment with. Every single human being matters and that is something that is important to remember above seeking absolute agreement.
All of my conversations of compassion and self love, please do not be impressed with me that is not my purpose for sharing this to seem as if I have this all down, I don’t. I am just a person sharing my experience and my exploration and perceptions. This being human thing is life work for sure. Reaching into my own humanity, facing my own shadow, is confronting at times downright ugly and I can be an absolute jerk. What makes a difference for me is taking responsibility for how I show up with people and doing the work to do better, confront my limitations and expand my understanding. Even though there will be things I never understand, from self care and self love I can understand the fact the person I may not agree with is still a human being with feelings, and their perception of the world. My world view is not the only one. Nor is it ‘the way’. It’s my perception and important to me. Just as someone else’s view is not ‘the way’, however, it is their perception and it is important to them. Simply trying to respect someone’s perception that is not my own, is the work I am very focused on right now personally. Absolute agreement is not required for peaceful human community and this misperception has actually fueled much violence and right now in America is fueling much violence. We don’t have to all agree with each other to be a stand for the human community, together. What would it looked like if each of us was just a little bit more responsible for our conversations with ourselves-meaning our self talk- and in this our conversations with others? What does it look like for America, and the rest of the world, to be just a tiny bit mindful? And because I cannot control how others choose to show up, all I know is I am responsible for my soul print. How I show up with you leaves a lasting impact on this planet, even if I never see the full outcome. Choosing to forgive, love myself and keep doing my work to seek compassion within me, I get to be just a little bit more compassionate with you. And after all, what is more important than that?
You can also watch this in video format on my YouTube channel here: