So now you’re a feminist

We've come a long way since this 1912 suffrage rally. But there's a long way to go.

We’ve come a long way since this 1912 suffrage rally. But there’s a long way to go.

How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Twelve: One to screw it in, one to blame men for inventing such a faulty means of illumination, one to blame men for trying to change the bulb instead of letting a women do it, one to suggest the whole “screwing” bit to be too “rape-like”, one to deconstruct the light bulb itself as too phallic, etc…

Imagine what kind of posts this joke gets on a website like Reddit. Yes, it’s a joke- whether you laughed or not- whether you’re upset by it or smirking like an ass at the thought of the gender studies majors you’ve encountered who embody these sentiments. Or maybe you have another stance on it?

A newly emerging attitude online is one between those opinions- one in thoughtful agreement that notwithstanding the finger pointing to either extreme, there is some truth in the joke and in this kind of feminism. But it’s not the kind that’s going to win.

In 2014, Buzzfeed created a survey that asked whether individuals believed in equality between men and women: 99% of survey takers said yes. The next question was whether these individuals considered themselves feminist- only 65% said yes. The survey insinuated that there is a reluctance to say we’re feminist.

It seems we’ve become afraid of being too feminist- or not being feminist enough. Our generation’s become a little too in-tune with having a false consciousness- fearing the acceptance and embrace of elements in society that might oppress us. Fourth wave feminists are conflicted online: Am I a bad feminist because I like to wear heels? Should I be choosing the suit jacket instead of skirt? Should I pursue my career or have babies? – But I really want babies. And then there’s the internet trolls who fuel the doubt online, tormenting the Tumbler feminists declaring what women-hood is. For those of us who just want to do what we want- it’s just exhausting.

When we posted this article to Twitter we got a… ‘classy’ reaction

In her book “Bad Feminist,” Roxanne Gay considers feminism as more than a collection of likes and dislikes. By definition, only when you deny equal rights for women can you say you’re not a feminist. But for many women this word doesn’t accurately brand the newfound attitude.

In another survey question, Buzzfeed asked “If (you answered no to the former), why don’t you identify as feminist?” 67% said “I believe in gender equality, but don’t feel that feminism accurately represents my views”.

Where do you stand if you’re just exasperated by these conversations because they’re simply not constructive? It’s been a hundred years since women suffragist demonstrated their right to vote- we need more than to point out the existence of inequality. Do we set out to make men and women equal or do we set out to create a society that respects the differences between men and women- in a way that’s fair?

Our society hasn’t yet carved out a place for our new attitudes to live comfortably. Celebrity behavior among women is changing, the marrying- age for women is changing, the boundaries of what is expected and accepted from women is changing.

In 2006, Norway was the first country in the world to impose a gender quota, listing nearly 500 firms that had to raise the proportion of women on their boards to 40 percent. Of course we wonder, can a company say they’re necessarily putting the best talent to represent their shareholders? So far, it sounds like it’s working very well with headlines like, “Law has made boards more professional”.

Until the rest of us catch up to Norway’s success, we can still maintain and make more room for this position where the feminist is more than a term and a list of wrong and right- doings but a woman with freedom of choice.