Sometimes I just don’t understand people.
I recently participated in a group discussion centered around violence against women. At some point during this discussion, the only man present in the group felt the need to clarify that he was not a feminist, but an equalist. 😒 Oh boy, here we go.
First of all, I find it extremely obnoxious that you find it necessary to distinguish yourself in a group of women by identifying yourself as an “equalist,” as if that makes you some sort of champion of women’s rights. Second, those who demand to be called equalists, rather than feminists, are ignoring the fact that we aren’t actually equal. Equalism does not recognize how women of color, trans women, disabled women and other groups exist at the intersection of multiple oppressive systems. And third, why do you find it relevant to bring up your “equalism” in the middle of a conversation about violence specifically committed against women!? Seriously!?!
IMO, when people (usually men) say things like “I’m not a feminist. I consider myself an equalist,” it’s because a) they don’t know what feminism is, b) they don’t understand why it’s needed, and c) they certainly do not recognize how they benefit on a daily basis from misogyny and patriarchy.
I am so sick of holding my tongue when men detract from the actual problems that are leading to the marginalization and murder of women in order to point out the fact that they are an “equalist,” as if it’s the most profound statement anyone’s ever made. Your obsession with the semantics (naming) of feminism shows just how much you don’t care about the struggles women have endured in pursuit of their liberation. Let’s be honest, the only reason you are trying to rename feminism is because you are afraid – afraid of a movement that was built by women in order to advocate for women’s autonomy. Your position as the dominant group has been threatened, and in a desperate attempt to make yourself more important, you say you’re an “equalist.” It’s just subtle enough to not be recognized as overt sexist bulls***.
Some people may be upset by my interpretations, but guess what? I don’t care. Women have to put up with criticism all the time for calling themselves feminists, so you “equalists” can just deal with it. Men need to stop acting like everything needs to be created in their honor. The horrendous truth is that feminism doesn’t prioritize men’s needs. I know, shocking. Y’all need to get over it.
With that being said, I thought I would help all you “equalists” out there explore the depth of your own ignorance by providing a FEMINIST reading list. These works are not steeped in academic lingo, nor do they critically analyze feminist theory. They’re just books, many of them personal accounts, written by powerful and talented women who believe in the future of the feminist movement.
I’ll just leave these here…
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
When was the last time you laughed while reading a book? If you can’t answer my question without consulting a calendar, then it’s time to pick up Bad Feminist. Gay writes in a way that is approachable, real, and hilariously honest. In her book, she explores what it means to be a feminist and how her life experiences have shaped her views on race, politics, media, and more.
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Author, feminist, and social activist bell hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” She breaks this definition down in a straightforward way, not convoluted by theory or academic language. Cause seriously, who the hell knows what a dichotomy is? Just say division for Pete’s sake. Thank you, bell hooks, for clearing things up. You go. ✊
We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Though just published in 2015, this book is already a classic. The short essay was adapted from a TedX talk given by Adichie in 2012. In it, she makes a clear argument for why we should all be feminists. Perhaps what makes this read so, well, readable, is its size.This book is roughly the size of a maxi-pad and is literally 50 pages long. There is no reason for you to not read this book.
He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti
Finally, a book that breaks it all down! We see and experience these double standards in our everyday lives and sometimes it’s hard to process it all. Valenti does the work for us. Not only does she identify the problems, but she asks the important questions like “what can we do about it?!?” The only thing I would change is the title – men should know these, too! Also by Valenti: Full Frontal Feminism
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde: writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian, civil rights activist, mother, poet, and one seriously badass woman. Sister Outsider is one of her many works, but this collection of poems and essays deals specifically with intersectional identity and oppression. The best part is that Lorde is 100% unapologetic in her anger about police brutality, war, imperialism, violence against women, etc.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
If you haven’t heard of Malala by now, it’s about time you climb out of your cave. Malala Yousafzai was on a role long before her 2014 Nobel Peace Prize win (at only 17 btw). She has been a powerful advocate for women and girls’ education around the world. This book provides an insight into her experiences as a young girl growing up in Swat Valley. You can also see the film “He Named me Malala,” AFTER you’ve read the book. 😉
Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso
“Rousso’s memoir is about overcoming prejudice against disability, not disability itself. It confronts not only prejudice but also the ways so-called “normal” people distinguish people with disabilities from everyone else by seeing them through the comforting but distorted lens of heroism, nobility and triumph over adversity—stereotypes that kill with kindness.” – Don’t Call me Inspirational. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. After reading this book it should come as no surprise to you that language matters! ahem, “equalists.”
Hope that helps! ❤