Rules of Feminism: Things You Do Not Have to Do

Often times as feminists we are expected to behave a certain way or contribute a certain thing or all follow a particular path of “Feminism,” but here are five things that we as feminists are not obligated to do. So next time someone says you have to do something because you are a feminist, squirt lemon juice in their eyes… or just link them to this article.

1. Talk about anything you really do not want to talk about.

Far too often being known as “that feminist” means people come to you as the provider of answers to all their questions about feminism, misogyny, sexism, or even anything social justice-y, but you are not obligated to give anybody a discourse on feminism if you do not want to. Though taking a stance on certain issues and being educated on topics goes hand-in-hand with being a feminist, having to go off on rants to prove your knowledge or to inform others is not required of you. The magic of Google is that people can educate themselves.

2. Love Every Single Woman Out There

You do not have to treat every girl or woman like they are your best friend because you are a feminist. You do not have to support every female in the world because you are a feminist. It is important to keep yourself in check and make sure that your dislikes of someone are not stemming from misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia, or things like that, but being expected to appreciate every single woman out there like she is a close friend is an unrealistic expectation. Why should you love those women who are problematic? Like the Kardashians,( they are slandered often for you-know-what) who are not well-liked by many feminists because of their cultural appropriation, hypersexualization of Black men, and their antiblackness, and all of those are valid reasons to dislike their family and their brand. Why should you love women who are racist, homophobic, and/or transphobic? Why should you love women who have hurt you in the past? Love yourself, love the women around you who uplift and support you, and crush the expectation that as a feminist you have to get along with every other woman out there.

3. Follow Famous Feminists

Each person’s activism differs. You will not see Emma Watson representing Women of Color; you will not see Beyoncé speaking on behalf of transwomen; you will not see Tina Fey talking about classism, because each of these women have a particular brand of activism and causes they are personally affected by. You do not have to follow any particular feminist simply because they are popular or well-liked, because if their activism does not connect with you and does not apply to your life then their activism does absolutely nothing for you; their activism will not help you grow or make you feel supported. There is nothing wrong with connecting with certain women over certain women and you are not required to speak on behalf of any feminist cause simply because it is a feminist cause. It is healthy to base your activism on your needs.

4. Feel Pressured To Do “Feminist-y” Things

The stereotypes of feminists often are what turn a lot of people from feminism. I am not talking only about the belief that feminism advocates for women taking over the entire world, but the “feminists do not shave,” “feminists do not wear makeup,” “feminists are dykes,” etc. stereotypes. Do not feel like you have to grow your hair out or stay makeup free or suddenly denounce romantic or sexual relationships with men to feel accepted. Also do not feel as if you have to shave or wear makeup or suddenly announce your love for men to fight the “feminist” stereotypes. Feminism is freedom. Feminism is the liberty to choose, to look, to behave, and to act in whichever you feel most comfortable- as long as you are not hurting others (don’t think this gives all you non-Desis an excuse to wear the Bindi). Focusing on the physical aspects of what makes a feminist takes away from what the cause is even about. In the end it is your activism that really makes you a feminist.

5. Be A Women’s Studies Major

A lot of feminists do not have the opportunity to go to college and take women’s studies classes, feminist literature classes, or any class to educate themselves on the history or relevance of feminism, but that does not make them any less of a feminist. To all the people who are able to go out and take women’s studies classes: It is really important to reflect on yourself and make sure you are not classist for viewing someone’s activism as lesser than your own because they may not be as “educated” as you. To all my people who are unable to attend seminars or give speeches at the United Nations in designer suits: It is also important to remind yourself that your activism is still relevant and needed, even if you learned everything from Twitter and Tumblr. The beauty of feminism is intersectionality, and each brand of activism contributes its own part to the cause. Though it is easier said than done, be proud of yourself and your contribution. You are needed and valued.

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