Feminism can be fun. Sometimes you meet your feminist soul mate, listen to a kick ass lecture, or enlighten someone in your community. There are some beautiful moments within a life led by feminism, moments we cherish.
But ninety percent of the time life as a serious feminist is total crap. We routinely get dumped on by our peers, coworkers and family members. We hear sexist statements while standing in line at the grocery store that make our blood boil. We are criticized at parties for identifying as feminists. We get verbally attacked by total strangers on the Internet.
Unfortunately and undeniably so, the average person doesn’t embrace feminism. Of that majority, there are many who actively berate and demean feminists. Those who self-identify as feminists learn tricks and techniques to cope with or fight back against these attacks, but we often don’t take the time to unpack what these attacks mean for the movement.
While it may be a difficult existence to constantly ward of criticism, threats, and verbal abuse, there is a silver lining to such attacks. There are two truths lying (shallowly) beneath the surface when someone criticizes and/or attacks a feminist, and those reasons should motivate us to continue fighting for equality.
You prove the relevance and importance of the movement
By attacking a feminist, whether for a notion put forward or simply because of one identifies with the movement, you are proving that the patriarchy is alive and well and people still condemn those fighting for equality and equity. Your insults, threats and criticisms remind us why we do what we do. Your push back is just one instance of many that illustrates society’s resistance to systemic change.
Don’t tell us feminism is irrelevant in the West. We are reminded every day through insult and attack just how relevant it is.
You show that we are a threat
People only become concerned about an individual or a movement when they view it as a threat. If the perceived threat is minimal, no one invests the time and energy to refute or diminish it.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, no one mounted any serious opposition because no one took him seriously. It was only recently, after his following exponentially grew, that pundits and citizens alike began actively condemning him. The legitimate threat of Trump as President roused people to action.
So when you go out of your way to attack a feminist, what you are really doing is showing us that you are threatened by our movement and recognize its legitimacy. When you resist our notions, you show us our ideas scare you. When you condemn our self-identification, you demonstrate your concern of the power of that label. When you send us threats for voicing our opinions, you reveal just how loud our voices ring.
Attacking a feminist is often an attempt to debunk our theories or diminish our commitment to the movement. Unfortunately, for them, their attacks have the opposite effect.
So go ahead. Bring on the criticism, bring on the threats. We’ll keep marching along.