“But those aren’t real feminists!”
Yes. Yes they are.
Allow me to present the dictionary definition that is so often spoken of on tumblr:
the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
Huh. That’s weird. It looks like the definition is not “literally equality”. I’ve been lied to! But I digress. Anyway, if that’s what defines a feminist, then anyone who advocates women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men is a feminist. That’s it. That’s the only requirement. Being concerned for men’s rights really isn’t a necessity for being a feminist. You just need to seek equality with men, whatever that would mean for you.
Now I have a few problems with that, the biggest one being the fact that acknowledging men’s needs or fighting for men’s rights simply is not included in the definition of feminism. In fact, seeking equality with men assumes that men have all the rights they could ever possibly want and thus need no one to fight for them. Feminism does not, at its core, fight for men. Now if only there was some sort of ideology that fought for all genders equally. Something that fought for people in general rather than needing to specify gender and subsequently make another gender seem as though they had all their rights taken care of… Something like… Hmmmm… Oh!
Advocacy of the equality of all people, especially in political, social, and economic life.
There we go.
There is a word for “literally equality” and it’s egalitarianism, not feminism. The definition of egalitarianism necessitates fighting for all rights, the definition of feminism does not.
Now you may be saying “Hey! Feminists fight for men’s rights too!” And you’d be right, at least partially. Some people who identify as feminists do fight for men’s rights, but that is the perfect segue into my discussion about the No true Scotsman fallacy.
From a Wikipedia summary:
“No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim (“no Scotsman would do such a thing”), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”).”
This is why you can’t just shrug your shoulders at “crazy feminists” who don’t fight for men’s rights by saying they aren’t “real feminists” or “true” feminists if you will. As long as they fulfill that rather short list of requirements listed above, they are true feminists, even if you don’t like or agree with them. Fighting for men’s rights simply isn’t part of the necessary equation.
Meanwhile, egalitarianism *is* by definition the advocacy of rights for all. Do you not like the term egalitarianism because somebody who called themselves egalitarian wasn’t fair to women? Well it can be truly said that they were not true egalitarians, since they don’t adhere to the very definition of the word which does, unlike feminism, require equal advocacy.
So when somebody tells you they’re an egalitarian rather than a feminist, don’t act so shocked and offended and try to shoot them down by saying that feminism “literally means equality” and that the people they’ve had bad experiences with “aren’t real feminists” because they are, whether you like it or not.