“I hate ‘feminist.’ Is this a good time to bring that up?” Joss says as he begins his talk at an Equality Now benefit dinner.
And people got angry.
He explains that he doesn’t hate feminists. And then he goes on to say AMAZING things that made me want to hug him. Joss Whedon hates the word “feminist” but he is one.
It’s not perfect. It’s not a solution to all problems women face in society. It’s a 15 minute talk where he offers the, admittedly not novel idea, that being feminist shouldn’t be an extreme position. We shouldn’t have a spectrum where sexism and feminism exist as uncomfortable extremes with an acceptable gray area between them. You shouldn’t have to be or not be a “feminist”. That feminism should be the default stance. There should be no gray area.
It’s a nuanced discussion that obviously can’t be handled by a single white man standing in front of a room full of people who paid lots of money to hear him speak for 15 minutes, but it’s a discussion worth having for sure. The language we use when discussing things shapes the way we think about those things. I don’t think “genderist” is going to give the same punch as “sexist” or “racist” and I find a lot of neologisms to feel forced, pretentions and a bit academic. But it is a problem that the word we have for caring about women’s equality is one people don’t wish to identify with. And those problems come from within and without the feminist community itself.
I hate all the reasons that someone might say “I am not a feminist but [insert feminist value.]” And that it’s wielded in the same way someone might say “I am not a racist but [insert racist value.]” And everyone nods and understands. You’re not one of THOSE people, see… but you can see why some people might say and think things that THOSE people would.
So what do we do?