1. Your career should not continue in the same way after you have a kid.
I am 100 percent on-board with the idea of making men share the responsibility (and professional consequences) of having a child. It’s only fair that it be more egalitarian, and not always fall to the woman to suffer for. But as someone who is approaching 40 and is surrounded with professional women who have one or more children and have tried to keep their career going at the same speed (often in the name of feminism), I can’t tell you how terrible that is for all involved. The children barely see their mothers, the mothers are constantly stressed, tired, and unable to appreciate anything, and their bosses are having to work with someone whose attentions are clearly (and rightfully) divided. Certain brands of feminism seem to desire more female CEOs who have children, but this is incredibly naive. Having a child is and should be a choice that slows down your career, because it gives you another focus in life. Feminism cannot (and should not) encourage women to have children and continue their Superwomen careers in the same way.
2. Making fun of women who don’t understand feminism isn’t helping.
I’ve seen a lot of young feminists making fun of the I Don’t Need Feminism blog, and I can’t imagine anything more naive or ineffectual to do if your actual goal is to bring women to your cause and promote equality. Shaming and mocking other women for being ignorant or misinformed about something — or even taking real issues with your ideology — is immature and shameful. It adds nothing to the conversation, and only drives them further away from your cause because they see you as mean, ostracizing people. If you have mocked that blog, instead of engaging it with openness and communication, you are part of the reason that people are getting fed up with modern feminism.
3. In the real world, plenty of “feminists” don’t identify that way.
You will meet many women throughout your life, particularly as you age and take on power/responsibility in your life, who embody every value of feminism (and who actively make this world a better place for other women) who don’t call themselves feminists. That’s their prerogative, and it’s not your place to judge them for not taking your label. Learn from them, and accept your differences.
4. Valuing the working woman at the expense of the SAHM makes things worse.
Every Stay At Home Mom I know — without exception — has expressed at some point that she felt a certain degree of shame or judgment about her choice to stop working, or to dedicate her life to her children. And all of those women — again, without exception — felt that way because of fellow women, not men. These were most often feminists, working women, and generally what you would consider “progressive” on the surface. But (perhaps without realizing it), they had created a hierarchy of value in the choices women make, and made others feel less-than for the choice to stay home. You may say “feminism is about respecting all choices,” but you have to be humble enough to accept when fellow women are telling you that this isn’t always the case in practice. Their experience is not invalid just because it doesn’t align with your textbook.
5. Not everyone has access to the same education as you.
Assuming that someone is bigoted where they are likely just ignorant about an issue is an all-too-common problem in feminism today. Very few people had the privilege — yes, the privilege — of being educated on complex and systemic gender-based issues in society, and can enter in conversations without as much information as you. A degree in women’s studies might make you informed, but it should also make you humble, because you realize that a lot of people need to be treated with understanding, not shame for not being as knowledgeable as you are.
6. Men face certain disadvantages, too. And it’s not a joke.
I see a lot of young feminists pay lip service to “the effects men face as a result of patriarchy,” but I see very few who take the time to address those issues, or treat them with the same seriousness as issues women face. But as you age, and you see the repercussions of some of our societal attitudes about men — from incredibly biased custody courts, to alimony, to circumcision-as-norm for newborn boys, to the dismissal of violence against men — you realize that these issues to be acknowledged as much as any female-facing issues. Men’s issues are not a joke, and they are not secondary to women’s. And until we start including all gender inequalities in the discussion, we will get nowhere.