As a society we value the freedom to form our own opinions about political and social issues, but it seems in this particular arena we have forgotten about others’ rights to do the same things. This is a very delicate and divisive subject but maybe we could find some common ground if we stopped saying these three things:
1. “If you believe _____ , you are a _____ .”
How about you worry about what you believe and how that translates into how you identify as an individual or which political, social, religious or other schools of thought align with those beliefs, and I’ll do the same for me. As feminists you do not have the authority to tell other people their beliefs automatically qualify or disqualify them from identifying as anything.
2. “Feminism is for everyone!”
It’s great that everyone is welcome to be a feminist. Fantastic!
But at some point this morphed into the idea that everyone who is a decent human being should be a feminist. It became commonplace to publicly shame those who do not identify as feminists. Don’t get me wrong, blatant discrimination of any kind deserves the backlash. But someone who doesn’t actively support the cause isn’t automatically a ignorant, sexist, or an asshole. There is a big difference between belligerence and apathy. Most people fall into the latter but have the potential to become the former if incessantly confronted with your preachy, shame-y shit.
3. “That (image) is offensive to women.”
I am a woman and I will decide for myself what offends me and what doesn’t.
Maybe something is offensive to you and your circle of friends, but perhaps it is not offensive to all women. And that should be okay. We all come from unique circumstances that give us different outlooks on everything we encounter. You really don’t need to be the authority of moral standards for media.
There are so many positive and productive ways to talk about this subject but the overarching generalizations need to stop.