Today is International Women’s Day
In the lead up, I started thinking about how and why I am a feminist. I finally realised that all of the reasons are intensely personal. They have nothing to do with abstract political or ethical principles. They have to do with how I feel, and what makes my life good.
Over the next five days, I’m going to post the answers I found to the question “Why am I a feminist?” The answers fall into five themes:
I’ll start with number one.
The number of one reason I am a feminist is because of how it affects my relationships.
Relationships make you who you are. They also make the quality of your life.
Imagine two boxes. The first contains three items: wealth, power, fame. The other contains all your relationships. Now ask yourself this: If the first box was full of much wealth, much power and much fame, and the second box was empty—would your life be good?
Another question is this: Given what you have now, the actual contents of those two boxes in your life, today, if some magical being came and told you they were going to take the contents of one box away—which box would you choose?
Good. I imagine our answers are the same.
Feminism is about equality. I want the relationship with each of my friends and family to be a relationship between equals. Most of the people in my life are women. Most of the people closest to me are women.
If you want to know why an equal relationship might be important, imagine the alternatives. Under equality, you treat the other person as your equal in terms of power, dignity and worth. Too often, we men have been taught to put women at a different level, in one of two ways:
- To put them below us: this is patronising.
- To put them on a pedestal: this is fetishism.
Not only do most people not enjoy being patronised or fetishised, but if you do that even a little a bit, you don’t have a full relationship, because the role you have cast the other in gets in the way. You don’t get the full benefit of the relationship you could have. And so your life is less.
Plus, you may be mistreating a person by patronising or fetishising them.
Equality gives you better relationships. Better relationships give you a better life. Women make up half my world. Feminism stands for equality.
And therefore, inevitably, I am a feminist.