I Can Never Be a Feminist

It's not that I don't want to. I actually agree with much of the movement. Suffrage would not be a thing without feminism. Workplace equality (or what there is of it) would not be a thing without feminism. And behind the many campaigns against sexism and rape culture are bold, uncompromising feminists.

But I can't adopt the label of feminist. And for no other reason than what it sounds like.

Feminism has actually been around for quite a while, and the movement with which most of us are familiar is technically second-wave feminism. This is the 1960's, sexual revolution brand of feminism.

That's important because for many, it's already guilty by association. But more importantly, it became known as a radical, misandrist (the companion term to misogynist) movement more interested in retaliation than equality. It was productive, but it appeared divisive. And as I like to say, perception matters.

Regardless, feminism is resurging in the church once again through works like Rachel Held Evans' 2012 A Year of Biblical Womanhood and especially last year's Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. And while progressives, men and women alike, are flocking to these books and joyfully changing their Twitter bios to include that marketable moniker (Jesus feminist), conservatives only see an androgynous apocalypse and a poor reading of Galatians 3:28.

The sad part is these are the very people who would most benefit from the movement.

It's like walking up to the Republican Party Convention and saying, "Before you hear what I have to say, I want you to know that I'm a Democrat." Nothing stops up people's ears more than the trigger words they've been programmed to denounce.

And unfortunately, the term "feminism" creates a political polarization and exclusivity that only preaches to the choir. It doesn't challenge the people that need to be challenged. Just like the "equal but different roles" rhetoric will never change an egalitarian's mind, so a conservative's mind will never entertain a discussion on women's rights if the f-word is dropped.

This is what we do. Every issue has two sides and every person needs to pick the one with which they most align. They're like bad pennies that force their way into our lives and demand heads or tails allegiance. But life is a bit more complicated than a pocket full of change, and every issue we face is more like an eight-sided die.

Living a life with labels (like feminism) is like calling it in the air--only the toss was a die, the call was "heads," and the goal was to change the rules of the game. But the game of life isn't any more bifurcated than the devil's tail, and cognitive dissonance can't be solved by creating false dichotomies.

That's why I reject it. I could call myself a feminist and score some easy points with progressives or I could do the hard work of convincing conservatives that our current society isn't as equal as they think. One is divisive and the other is unifying. That one you can call in the air.

You might be saying that I'm just arguing semantics, but maybe I just care about communication. If you've been married for any length of time, you know the value of articulating your thoughts in a way that's understood by your spouse. So if that means weighing some words and excluding others, then that's exactly what I'm going to do.

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