Mountain View High School Student Newspaper

Feminism isn’t an excuse

Feminism isn’t an excuse

Nov 28, 2013

The words ‘feminism’ and ‘equality’ are interchangeable.  The purpose of the feminist movement, which has become increasingly prominent in the news and online, is to achieve just that–equality.  With this movement comes the fight for reproductive rights, equal pay, protection from sexual assault, and the general goal to eradicate sexism.

A few years ago, a new feminist ideal was developed and popularized: that women should be able to do what they want with their bodies without repercussions or judgement.  This is a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree, however, once it caught the publics’ attention,the idea quickly mutated into a rage against slut-shaming, the practice of putting down ‘sluts,’ or sexually active or promiscuous women.

I was fairly oblivious during the rise of this idea (a common trait of unworldly fourteen year olds.)  At the time, what I gleaned from this new offshoot of feminism was that it was suddenly socially acceptable to wear revealing clothes and sleep around–so long as you called yourself a feminist.  I thought that everyone acted this way, and that it was perfectly fine to do so.  I thought that this was the only defining quality of feminism, and never bothered to investigate further.  My undeveloped beliefs reflected those of the general public, and some people easily accepted this new desire to take control of our bodies, but it also had significant negative effects.

It isolated the more conservative, old-fashioned people.  This wave of sexual liberation, like any other social movement, made some people uncomfortable, which is a perfectly valid response.  Yet, many of these people had to suppress their opinions in fear of being deemed a ‘slut-shamer.’  On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who couldn’t care less about equality in the workforce or womens’ suffrage began using feminism as an excuse to hook up with strangers and to wear clothes that barely concealed their genitals.  I am no one to pass judgement on the choices of others (because what they do affects me in no way), and I’m not asserting that either of those activities are wrong, but if the mentality behind them is ‘YOLO,’ the people engaging in them can hardly be considered feminists.

Feminism, once known as a solution to a problem, has become the root of a new problem.  A major aspect of feminism (and common courtesy) is being non-judgemental, but this massive overcorrection caused a generation of walking paradoxes.

I encourage everyone to identify as a feminist, as long as you understand and support the term.  Feminism is not a fad, something to be abused, or an attempt to ‘YOLO’ life.  Respect yourselves, respect each other, and strive for equality.  It’s easy to be swayed by popular opinion, but the only thing that can never be taken away from you are your morals.

Emily Porat

Emily Porat

As a junior, Emily likes that writing allows for her opinion to be voiced. She is an avid concert goer, has two cats, runs cross country and plays piano.

  • Emily Porat

    Hello there! Thank you for the comment. You have many valid points, and I’d like to address a few of them. I’m aware of the feminist movements of the 70′s/earlier, but I wanted to keep this article in a perspective that is more relevant to my generation and even younger people.

    Personally, I don’t understand how a person can call themselves a feminist if he or she understands or follows only certain parts of feminism. Acting promiscuously and not caring about any part of the feminist movement, and then calling yourself a feminist just because you are ‘in control of your body’ does not make you a feminist.

    I have to disagree about what you have to say about being non-judgmental. While it’s true that feminism isn’t ONLY about being non-judgmental, and that may not have been a big aspect of it originally, feminism has evolved into a movement that is based on being non-judgmental (which is why placing judgement ‘slut-shamers’ is equally wrong as judging ‘sluts’ in the first place.) Look at Tumblr, for instance–there are hundreds of thousands of posts about feminism, and a majority center around not judging others for what they choose to do.

    How can you argue that having self respect is not for everyone? Self respect comes before any other type of respect, and it’s important for the growth and maturity of individuals.

    I could’ve written a ten-page paper about this topic, and gone into much more detail, but I wanted to keep in brief. I may have overlooked a few ideas, but my intent was definitely not to oversimplify or overlook other perspectives. Thank you for your feedback, and thank you for reading the article!

    • friendlyNeighborhoodFeminist

      Hi! It’s so lovely to see that you’ve replied, and to continue the discussion.

      As for awareness of earlier feminist movements, I didn’t mean to imply that you yourself were unaware of them (in fact, your second sentence in particular seemed to show your your awareness of them) just that the idea of women doing what the want with their bodies is not a “new feminist ideal” and perhaps shouldn’t be said to be so in a place where those who are not educated on feminism could get the wrong idea.

      As far as your second point (that is, in your above reply) about people touting promiscuity as a reason why they are feminist, I do agree that that’s definitely not the only facet of feminism, but I disagreed specifically with the way that is said in the article (the phrase “can hardly be considered feminists” stopped me up) because it seems to say that a feminist cannot engage in sexual promiscuity for the hell of it.

      I must vehemently disagree with you that feminism has its base in being non-judgmental. To emphasize my point, I have composed a short list of things feminism is also about, and which together comprise more of the feminist ideology than being non-judgmental:

      treating women as equals; creating legal equality for women; securing reproductive rights; ending domestic abuse; ending violence against women; stopping the objectification of women; ending sexual harassment; liberating women from gender roles (which also benefits men, I suppose); educating women about themselves and their bodies; providing resources for women; providing safe spaces for women; destroying rape culture; dismantling the patriarchy (in a general sense);
      and, most importantly, striving for equality and/or liberation of women no matter their race, sexuality, religion, physical ability, neurotypical/neuroatypical status, birth sex, etc.

      Oh, also, I cannot see where you’re getting the idea that the majority of posts on Tumblr about feminism center around being non-judgmental. That may or may not be correct (though I believe it not to be), but the lack of any concrete proof makes it hard for me to swallow either way.

      I fear I misspoke about whole respect thing. I had meant to refer to the second part, the respecting others, and how that’s not always a reasonable option, as opposed to the self-respect part. Everyone should have self-respect if possible, and I regret that I spoke in such a way as to be easily misconstrued.

      I understand completely that details had to be left out for the sake of brevity, I just think that some important ones were unnecessarily left out (most importantly, the clear allowance for certain other views). I really don’t want to seem like I’m berating you, but instead offering some insight into what you might want to consider if you’re writing articles such as this in the future. Not a demand, nor an admonishment, just some food for thought.

  • formerOraclerpermafeminist

    feminism isn’t an excuse for…what, defining personal choices and having the freedom to express your sexuality in a matter of one’s own choosing? and how does one really determine what is an appropriate measure of self-respect for another human?
    i encourage this writer to continuing exploring what feminism really means, and to come closer to a movement that is not about equality in such simple terms: but rather about ending sexism, sexual exploitation and racial oppression for everyone (sluts and slut-hating conservatives alike).