It’s Not Just for Feminists Anymore

It’s not easy being a feminist.

We are the butts of jokes, the objects of stereotypes, and the recipients of sometimes vile allegations. We are accused of being humorless, man-hating, hairy, butch, lesbian, angry, vigilant, overly-masculine, inflexible, fighting demons. Feminists have been blamed for undermining the sanctity of the family, for emasculating men, for destroying the economy, and for generally ruining everyone’s fun. The list goes on. For Orthodox feminists, add to this the associations with being Reform, non-Jewish, anti-Semitic (yes, I get that surprisingly often), whores, sluts, anti-Torah, anti-halakhic, anti-community ignoramuses.

It’s easy to understand why some people do not want to be associated with feminism. Who would? With all these monikers and awful images flying around the universe about feminists, why would anyone willingly choose to associate with that group?

I get that. I actually hear it all the time. I have had countless conversations with people who actually fully believe in the fundamental ideals of feminism – that women and men deserve to be treated equally and fairly, in
all aspects of life, because we are all created in the divine image – but who do not want to be labeled as “feminist”. It’s understandable.

I know that people who look like feminists do not always call themselves that. Women who have benefited from the feminist movement – women breaking glass ceilings in all aspects of life, women who fully expect their husbands to be full partners at home, women with aspirations to be astronauts or the president of the United States – even women who can argue eloquently for gender equality still sometimes balk at the word “feminist”. It’s just not where they are or want to be.

There are other reasons for this as well. Maybe some people think the struggle is over. Maybe some people are happy with the status quo and don’t want to fight at all but just want to get on with their lives. Maybe some people have never actually experienced gender inequality in their own lives so they are not fully convinced that it still exists. There are lots of reasons why women and men do not want to call themselves feminists. Everyone is entitled to her or his own identity, obviously.