Rhea and I have a new podcast addiction, it's called Guilty Feminist. In their own words the show is a "supportive forum to discuss the big topics all 21st century feminists agree on, whilst confessing our “buts” – the insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that undermine our lofty principles."
At the beginning of every episode, the hosts and guests confess to something their internal feminist feels guilty about. They start their sentences with: "I am a feminist but...". So, here is my guilty pleasure du jour.
I am a feminist but I enjoy riding in the female only section of the Dubai metro.
I know, I know, I bring shame to every woman who has ever fought for women's equality and women's rights since the dawn of time, but the Female & Children Only section has fewer people, and every once in a while I'll even come across an empty seat. My friends gasp when I tell them this, and then they make fun of me.
Does that make me a bad feminist?
It feels like a betrayal of everything I stand for, and every time I talk to someone about this I think back to the many conversations we have had with women while recording for season 1. At the end of every episode, I ask my guests whether they think of themselves as feminists, and what is feminism? You would be surprised by how few of these strong, over achieving, heroic women actually identify with that word.
I used to be offended when other women dissed the "feminist" label. I have since learned that we are all feminists in our own way. Having lived, and been an active "feminist" in more than one culture, I have come to appreciate that feminism and being a feminist mean drastically different things in different places. Feminists in countries with a constitution that is "genderless" and feminists in countries, like my own, where women don't have the same basic rights as men, are two very different beasts.
I am a feminist and... I know my rights are fragile
Here is how wikipedia defines feminism: Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women's rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave.
I don't think I know a single woman who isn't fighting for one of those rights, whether they call it feminism or not. I do know however that the freedoms we have acquired are so fragile. In France, where I lived for a few years, women only got the right to vote in 1945. The right to abortion only got enacted in 1975, through the Veil act.
Today, women who are fighting for pay parity or board seats, and women who are fighting for rape perpetrators to be punished by the judicial system may have a hard time sharing a label, but in my mind we are all sisters.
If you don't want to be labeled a feminist, that's cool by me. Just don't get comfortable. Be my sister. Hold my hand. Fight with me.
I am your sister when I host this podcast, and I am your sister when I debate with the men in my life about wether positive discrimination is a good thing. I am your sister when I am marching for women's rights in Beirut, and I am still your sister when I ride on the female section of the Dubai metro.