The Contentious Manifesto

So you refuse to call yourself a feminist? Makes sense. After all, those feminist are so bitter, always complaining, noisy, never happy, and they don’t even like to cook! Let me ask you though…How do you think you or your mother or daughter got the right to go to school? To vote? To work and earn a living? To drive? To hold public office? To head organizations? To compete in sports? To obtain a passport? To travel? To inherit or own property? Do you realize someone fought for those things? These things you have now which you take for granted were not always the norm. So the playing field is not level. It hasn’t been and it won’t be for a long time. Someone decided all by themselves that women should not drive, not vote, not be seen or heard, not earn a living; people like me and your mother (and maybe you if you’re female), and your daughter, shouldn’t have access to the very things we take for granted now. You’re probably saying “Well we have them now. So what’s the issue? We should now push for equal rights for everyone.” Right? So you refuse to call yourself a feminist. “I’m not a feminist. I don’t want to fight first for the women” (you think to yourself and sometimes say out loud).

Equal rights is the the goal my dear, but we need to make opportunities for people equal before we can really push for continued equality. Making opportunities for people equal will mean pushing some people up further than others because they’ve been deprived of these opportunities prior; because others had a head-start while they battled entrenched social norms and legislation put in place to keep them from those very rights. I’m talking about the women and girls who were not allowed to consider voting, driving, going to school, being their own agents…until someone took up the cause and made gender based discrimination of access to these things unthinkable. So we have these rights, and you now think everything is as it should be. That there are no privileges that you should also make sure your female children and grandchildren also have, privileges someone may arbitrarily be holding at bay from them because of their gender. No. In your mind, such ‘gendering’ no longer exists. So you refuse to call yourself a feminist.

Forget the label. If you had given it a moments thought, you would be furious. You would be incensed that no-one seems to care that some people are regularly denied basic rights by others simply because of gender just because thats the way it has always been. However you haven’t thought about it. So you’re just mindlessly taking advantage of others’ work. Leveraging the privileges someone else got frustrated enough to clamor for on your behalf, only to sit back and side-step any associations, conveniently ignoring the part you should be playing to make sure continued injustices are not the norm. Your lack of consciousness is summed up in your wonder at “their” anger. You’re not fed-up enough to damn the misconceptions, so instead you run. Please keep running. Run far away lest you sacrifice the feminist-built ladders which you thoughtlessly climbed to get an education or voice your thoughts, on the altar of your need to be agreeable to your very oppressors.

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