What makes a feminist in 2020?
In this series, we invited feminists all over the world to share their views on what we think are some of the crucial questions that we should be debating right now. The feminist movement is broad, diverse and sometimes divided. Is that a good or a bad thing? Please, share your opinion with us and your fellow feminists.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND WORK WITHIN THE GENDER BINARY?
Of course! Go for it!
Yes. Feminist by definition = female
In my opinion, feminism and queerness go together and can work together.
Just like ableism, there is still a lot of unmalicious gender
binary-focused language in our culture, which underwrites
our societal expectations. But it has been shown that the
gender binary can be harmful to psychological development.
The sooner we break out of the gender binary and
the expectations that come with it, the freer people can be.
Breaking down the gender binary is a queer issue as much as – perhaps more than – it is a feminist issue, and we have to listen to each other. There are strides towards a more equal society that can be made whilst working within the gender binary, and a lot of people are happy with their binary genders. So long as they listen to non-binary and gender-nonconforming folks and agree that we have a right to exist outside the gender binary, then they can work within it themselves and still be feminists.
Yes – I think feminism works best in Gender binary because
its asking for equality between two different genders and
these differences are emphasised the most within gender binary.
For me and my practice of feminism, it would be impossible to stay confined within a binary definition of gender. For me, feminism strives for equality between all definitions and determinations of gender. For that to succeed, one must always be aware of the many articulations of gender and sexuality: if you are not aware of them, then you’re can’t possibly account for them in your activism.
No, because it reinforces the biological essentialism
that patriarchy is built on and disregards the oppression
and experiences of gender non-conforming people
and their contributions to the feminist movement.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND UPHOLD FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT ALL TIMES?
Yes, of course. I don’t see why not?
No – We must be at the forefront of discourse countering the
freedom to harass and abuse women and marginalised peoples.
Yes, because it is a right – just like it is your right to disagree or argue with what’s said. Restricting what people can say is not part of feminism.
No, not if ‘freedom of speech’ includes ‘freedom of hate speech’
or bans against no-platforming people. Also, freedom of speech
does not include a right to be listened to or
given platforms with large audiences.
Feminists should support freedom of speech unless it’s used to be intolerant against someone. As soon as freedom of speech discriminated against someone’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity it’s a crime.
No, feminism is quite clear that hateful narratives encourage hateful behaviour.
To uphold the freedom of all speech is to enable the transmission
of all narratives into collective consciousness. Many of those narratives are hurtful
towards the feminist cause either because they encourage inactive
bystanderism in the face of threats to women/ queer people/ poc,
or because they outright encourage violence against/ erasure of these people.
I think the idea of upholding freedom of speech is often misinterpreted. Freedom of speech (or freedom of expression in the UK) means the government cannot tell you what to say. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell someone to put a sock in it. If you advocate that people should be allowed to spout hate-speech then no, you are not a feminist.
Probably, but I personally prefer a model in
which hate speech is defined and if not censored,
then at least always censured, or responded to.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND DISENGAGE FROM DEBATES ABOUT RE/DE-GENDERING LANGUAGE?
No, because language and discourse are important tools in the oppression of women and non-binary people and help to reinforce the gender binary and men/masculine forms as the norm.
Yes, because engaging does not necessarily mean ultimate withdrawing.
One can withdraw until they form a sold opinion yet it really depends
on the language and how far unjust that language is.
For a lot of feminists (including myself) that is not as important as e.g. stopping violence against women, making sure girls have access to sanitary products, equal pay… I see that it’s really important to change language to be more inclusive, but it’s something that is so ingrained which makes it really hard. If you e.g. look at a language like Spanish you have female and male adjectives as opposed to English where you don’t have that. It can be difficult to change that. I think as a feminist you need to be aware that some people might be offended by “gendered” language and I think you need to be open to changes and debates (e.g. you need to accept that someone’s pronouns are they instead of he/she), but I believe it’s okay if that isn’t your main concern as a feminist.
Yes. Re/de-gendering language is a feminist issue, but everyone
has to pick their battles. It’s okay not to put your efforts into everything,
or we’d all just get burned out. Fight for what you care
about most, and other feminists will do the same,
and between us we’ll have everything covered.
Yes. Although I am not a linguist, as somebody who is trilingual, it is my understanding that language is gendered to different extents and in different ways in different contexts. For some, the debates surrounding gendered language are less potent, urgent, or even relevant. I would hesitate to say that this makes them less or not a feminist. For others, discussions surrounding language are central and unavoidable. Perhaps what wouldn’t be feminist is denying the space and recognition that those who must engage with these debates need. However, I would argue that different linguistic and/or material contexts may mean different levels of personal engagement with language debates and that that, in my opinion, is okay.
Those who have a voice or those who are taken more seriously
(gender conforming) by the public have an obligation
to assist with the debate to educate everyone.
Illustration by Svenja Heutelbeck und Hannah Wolny