The ‘F’ Word

The ‘F’ Word

In case you didn’t know, I’m a feminist.

I’m not just a feminist though. I am a Feminist with a capital F (and capital E M for good measure too). I’m a card-carrying, bra-burning (or at least I would be if my breasts didn’t require the support of a thousand underwires), angry, shouty, Feminist.

I also hate the word ‘feminist’ with a burning passion.

Plot twist.

Now just to clarify, I don’t hate the word ‘feminist’ because I’m worried people will think I’m a hairy man-hating lesbian (why anyone would think that’s an insult is beyond me). I don’t hate the word ‘feminist’ because I’m worried it will alienate men (quite frankly I think it would do men good to be alienated for something for once in their life). And I certainly don’t hate the word ‘feminist’ because I’m deeply concerned with men’s rights.

I hate the word ‘feminist’ because people won’t stop bloody talking about it.

[bctt tweet=”‘I hate the word ‘feminist’ with a burning passion.'” username=”oawoodward”]

To me, the word ‘feminist’ is the least interesting part of feminism. It’s a handy way to highlight your beliefs briefly to people who don’t know you, but that’s about it. It’s not really important. The patriarchy, and reproductive rights, and the removal of institutionalised oppression – those are the important things. When I, at the tender age of 16, decided I was going to label myself a feminist, I envision having countless deep and meaningful conversations about the patriarchy and gender roles. I imagined complex debates about the finer points of intersectionality.

I did not picture having a thousand conversations about the word ‘feminist’.

When you announce to the world you’re a feminist, the world ceases to care about your opinions. It no longer matters what you believe, because the only think people care about is why you label yourself a feminist instead of an egalitarian or an equalist or a humanist.

No one wants to hear about your beliefs, activism, or political opinions, because they hear the word ‘feminist’ and the sirens start going off in their head. Rational conversations and important debates can no longer happen. As the old saying goes: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will derail an entire political movement.

[bctt tweet=”Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will derail a political movement.” username=”oawoodward”]

And that would be fine if it was just the nay-sayers shouting this nonsense. But it’s not.

Everywhere you turn, self-identified feminists are rushing to defend the label. And I get it, I do. They want to dispel the myths surrounding feminism, open it up to a wider audience, get more people on board. That’s great. It’s an important conversation to have. But it’s a conversation we’ve all had a thousand times.

And to be perfectly honest, I’m bored.

Because at the end of the day, who actually cares? Does it really matter whether or not I call myself a feminist? A word is simply a word, and as much as the human race loves to lord its language skills over the rest of the animal kingdom, words are pretty crap. They never say what we want them to, and people always take them the wrong way. Let’s all just stop wasting our breath over one little word, and start shouting about the important things instead.

So yes, I am a feminist. Feel free to ask me about rape culture. Quiz me on birth control. Hell, you can even ask me whether or not I think women should shave their legs. But for the love God, Satan, and everything in between – do not ever ask me about the word ‘feminist’.

[bctt tweet=”Can we please stop talking about the F word?” username=”oawoodward”]

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