Am I a ‘feminist’?

I'm a feminist, apparently.

I’m a feminist, apparently.

There was just one question posed and I didn’t think twice before answering it the same way as every feminist. However, if there were more questions I may have been given a different label.

I don’t actually embrace this label.  Having said that, if it is just a synonym for all supporters of women’s liberation, then of course I am a feminist. The problem is that ‘feminist’ has other definitions, and I would certainly fail those tests.

I don’t have a problem with other socialists or non-socialists embracing this term. I have no problem if for no other reason than I can agree to disagree with many people who disagree with me on a large number of things.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and the differences between me and many – if not all – feminists simply boils down to definitions of words, and not to one iota to political positions. Or to the extent that there are a few differences, they are only in terms of strategy and tactics, but not at all on principles.

Once upon a time a lot of socialists of the Marxist persuasion would have had no problems echoing what I am saying here. However, recent, extremely bitter divisions on the left means a lot of Marxists who should know better have surrendered to a ‘common sense’, one that justifies – in their own mind – simply saying they are also feminists. I don’t think they really believe they are feminists in the narrow sense that most feminists use that word. But there you go.

This is complicated, and socialists should be happy to debate these terms, rather than use political correctness to close down debate. The latter is dangerous because while the term ‘feminist’ embraces me and most other socialists by their definitions, the word as used by many non-socialists is creating problems that cannot be solved until we have a genuine debate about substantive differences beneath the shiny appearance of unity.

Recent court cases, such as the acquittal of Nigel Evans has posed a series of questions that many feminists did not expect to have to address. But it is not impossible that a section of the British establishment will try to use these acquittals to overreact, leading to fewer prosecutions of those who are probably guilty, and fewer victims wanting to come forward.

If anyone wants to take this ‘test’, here it is: http://www.buzzfeed.com/kellyoakes/are-you-a-feminist

 

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