In my short life, I have encountered two types of feminism: a proponent of equality and a proponent of female supremacy. I must say, the latter, while gaining increasing support, truly scares me. As a young woman, I get to hear a lot about feminism, in addition, to feel the insurmountable pressure feminists impose on women who will not link arms with them and march. When forced to, I align with those who stand for equality, but given the choice, I reject the label ‘feminist’ altogether.
When I first learned the word feminism, I was taught that it meant equality; it struck me as quite strange that something supposedly in favor of all was labeled in honor of half. Nonetheless, I went on with my life and eventually uncovered the vicious type of feminism that sends the movement to the punchline of many jokes.
How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. They just hold it in the socket and expect the world to revolve around them.
This brand of feminism both terrifies and disgusts me (if you spend enough time with someone who associates with it, you’ll know why.) I am appalled that these people label themselves feminists while standing for principles ‘true feminism’ actually rejects. Thus I and many others are trapped: label or no label, someone will always assume you reject equality.
I support equality and value difference. Though these ideas conflict in many people's minds, I see them as two halves of a better society. Everyone has the same rights and opportunities, but everyone is not the same.
Many critics read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening through the lens of feminism. Typically, Edna is seen as rejecting her subjugated female role in Creole society and becoming an independent woman by freeing herself through suicide. Many characterize Edna’s struggle as one for equality. While I understand how the novel could be read this way, I cannot agree.
I do not see Edna’s struggle to be for equality or derivative of feminism, rather I see simple difference. Edna’s pain, just like Mademoiselle Reisz’s pain, does not come from female inequality, but a human difference. Similarly, her suicide is not an escape into free womanhood but one into acceptance. Had the roles been different and the exact same behavior been exhibited by Leonce, feminism would never be brought up, it would be a simple question of mental health and happiness. Edna suffers from depression, and if it is a biochemical imbalance I cannot speculate; however, if her depression is situational, I believe it comes from her dislike for her entire life, not for her role as a woman.
Just as I myself cannot bear the name feminism, I cannot force it upon Edna. Her suffering began because she was unhappy, different, and perhaps struggling with a mental illness. She did not reject her role as a wife or mother, but as a person entirely.
I choose not to bear the label feminist mainly because I do not want to be associated with the sect of feminists who are truly female supremacists. Of course, I support equality, but I do not believe this is the meaning of feminism anymore, so I reject the label. Perhaps a new group with a more appropriate name will form, but it too will develop a negative connotation. The cyclical rejection of change movements will continue until we no longer need a change movement and true change is realized. Simply put, I reject society’s label for ‘equality-wanters’ as derivative of any quality (gender, race, etc.) other than being human.