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When you meet new people at what point do you 'out' yourself as a feminist?

(91 Posts)
margerykemp Sun 25-Sep-11 15:27:24

I've just become part of a new 'crowd'. Maybe I'm just feeling paranoid but I feel like I'm 'hiding in the closet' as a feminist as I haven't mentioned it (yet). Part of me doesn't want to be labelled as a 'man-hating, hairy legged lesbian' but it is such a core part of my identity that I dont feel like I am being entirely honest with people by 'hiding' it.

I feel a bit daft writing this now! blush

But have any other MN feministas felt this dilemma?

AlysWorld Sun 25-Sep-11 15:32:41

I don't really. I don't tell people who I vote for, whether I'm left or right wing, whether I'm religious, and whether I prefer alternative or mainstream medicine etc. Of course people can tell from general day to day conversations, and if it comes up I'd talk about it, I'm not hiding it. But I don't declare any of my 'labels' particularly.

FetchezLaVache Sun 25-Sep-11 15:41:35

I don't either, really. I don't hide the fact and will be quite open about it if the topic comes up. I just work on the assumption that all intelligent people will be feminists, in the same way that I assume they'll be non-homophobic, non-racist, etc.

LRDTheFeministDragon Sun 25-Sep-11 16:31:08

I used not to, then I got fed up with people assuming all feminists are lesians/bitter/a joke. My name on here is meant to remind me to admit to being a feminist more often. I don't try to ram it down people's throats but I find myself calling people on sexism more often and calling people on crappy 'ooh, men and women are different it's all nature' type statements. With the result that yesterday a friend gave me a lecture about how he doesn't see why he should have to 'feel guilty' about discrimination against women 'in the past' and it is therefore unfair that more women are being encouraged into his chosen profession, meaning he has to compete against them. hmm

I don't find that people often see sexism as unacceptable, the way they do racism and homphobia (in fact I notice plenty of people don't think those are unacceptable either).

blackcurrants Sun 25-Sep-11 16:50:13

I out myself pretty early and often - not, (I hope!) in an obnoxious way, but in the whole "are we going to be friends" testing out period. Because if someone harbours really dyed-in-the-wool antifeminist views, we're not. And the sooner I find that out, the better for everyone.

That said, I live in a part of the world where there is less casual, conversational sexism in the culture. (eg no one in my social/work would use 'stop being such a girl' or 'throwing like a girl' in conversation.) That's not common of the area, perhaps, so much as my work and social group.

fluffles Sun 25-Sep-11 17:15:14

i never tell people i am a feminist unless asked (i'm one of those who feel a bit weird about all -isms labels)

but i put forward feminist opinions on everything grin so a new acquaintance would have to be pretty thick not to notice.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Sun 25-Sep-11 17:29:33

They usually gather after I mention my disdain at the use of "bitch" or something like that... grin

Or pull someone up on the use of the word "slag".

Or I've dropped the word "misogynistic" into a conversation.

I kinda sussed my son's key worker is a feminist a few months back. Was having a moan about DMother's views on student mothers and working mothers, and her first reply was "the patriachy would be so proud of her", with a slight eye roll.

Beachcomber Sun 25-Sep-11 23:50:52

I often find that it comes out fairly naturally and quickly as part of general conversation.

The other day a new neighbour of mine asked if I had had Mormon missionaries come to my door for example. I said that they had, but that I had said straight away to them that I was a feminist and that organised religion ran counter to my politics, and I didn't want to waste their time.

Don't know if neighbour was shocked to be in the company of a real live feminist, but she certainly thought my approach was a good way of getting rid of the missionaries grin.

cecilyparsley Mon 26-Sep-11 00:57:48

I dont recall ever feeling the need to mention it, I imagine it's pretty obvious.
As has been said, I'd expect any rational and intelligent person to find sexism & misogyny unacceptable.
I suspect that is oversimplifying, there's often disagreement as to what constitutes sexism or misogyny.

Furthermore, feminism is a broad church, covering a variety of viewpoints.
It aint all cut & dried.

SardineQueen Mon 26-Sep-11 09:23:59

I don't mention it, as alys says it's like I don't mention my political leanings, views about the environment or religious views.

However I think that as people get to know me it becomes quite obvious that my views on things are of a feminist bent. A few people have said "oh you're a bit of a feminist aren't you" in that sort of tone of voice that means it's not entirely a compliment, and my response is always "yes" with a bright and cheery smile smile

KRITIQ Mon 26-Sep-11 10:36:11

I don't think it takes long for folks to work it out, either when they hear about my job, what I do in my spare time or observe the relationship with my DH. Some probably know before they've met me anyhow! smile

bangcrash Mon 26-Sep-11 11:14:05

I find people assume I am a feminist. Quite outspoken I suppose, not overly femine, have a few hobbies stereotypically male.

I assume that everyone is feminist and express my surprise when I encounter decidedly bin feminist views.

orangeisthenewgreen Mon 26-Sep-11 11:39:59

I used to be afraid to admit to being a feminist because of the negative connotations it carries and the fact that people like to wind you up about it. But after seeing so many feminists on MN I have more courage to "come out" of the closet.

I don't like to talk about the issues though, unless I know the person very well as I'm pretty crap at arguing points and I'll just fume for days at myself that people have misunderstood me! Besides some of the issues (eg. sexualization of women) are not clear-cut and take ages to argue.

I still remember years ago at uni saying that I was a feminist and the guy firmly told me "You may think you're not a feminist but you're not. You're too nice." To which I should have called him on being patronizing but instead just, softly, said "er no really I am". But it's that idea that fems are tough that kept me quiet. After all women don't like to appear tough do they?!

blackcurrants Mon 26-Sep-11 12:29:50

grin orange I remember telling a man at Uni that I was a Feminist and he said (in the tone people use when they're telling you that you're not fat) 'Oh no! No you're not! You're too nice!"

I told him that I was indeed a feminist, and he was too if he had his head screwed on right, and that I may be nice but I could turn nasty at any moment, just like those castrating feminists....

I may have been a teensy bit drunk, but mostly I was aghast at the idea that an educated man would think 'feminist' was an insult.

I was so naive! smile

LRDTheFeministDragon Mon 26-Sep-11 12:41:46

grin No-one has ever accused me of being too nice!

orangeisthenewgreen Mon 26-Sep-11 12:52:51

blackcurrants I think I will try that one next time when I get a negative reaction - say "yes and if you don't agree with me I will chop your willy off and add it to my collection!" with a huge nonchalant eye-roll!

LRD IMO being seen as too nice is just a burden, so you have my envy envy

MogandMe Mon 26-Sep-11 12:59:23

A new friend of mine told me probably on our 5th get-together. Didn't bother me or make me think of her any different smile

AndiMac Mon 26-Sep-11 13:13:29

It's hardly a dirty secret that you have to wait to tell someone. On the other hand, I also don't see the need for a label and wouldn't bother worrying about telling people by name what I am.

While on the topic, I do dislike it when women start a sentence with, "I'm not a feminist, but..." and then give a rational feminist comment on something. Well what are you then if not a feminist?

Hullygully Mon 26-Sep-11 14:30:58

I always assume everyone is a feminist.

Devlin11 Mon 26-Sep-11 21:58:18

I would never out myself as anything. Placing a label on yourself speaks nothing for your actions, and has potential future consequences, even if well received (or seemingly well-received) at the moment.

Omission of fact may only be considered a lie in a jurisdictional sense, so unless you have anything you do that requires you be/not-be a feminist, I would keep it to yourself excepting those areas in which you can maintain a reasonable expectation of anonymity.

If your friends and family directly ask "Are you a feminist", then you can handle the situation directly. Keep in mind that if it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck, and let your actions speak for themselves.

LRDTheFeministDragon Mon 26-Sep-11 22:21:08

What's wrong with a label that identifies you though?

I like identifying with that label - it's an action in itself, and often a surprisingly powerful one IME.

I would never want to keep it to myself. Words are pretty important - we're not monkeys walking around grunting so it is a bit odd IMO to pretend they're not important to us. smile

LeninGrad Mon 26-Sep-11 22:41:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TrillianAstra Mon 26-Sep-11 22:47:10

What Alys said. It doesn't feel to me like something that needs to be declared.

I generally assume that any intelligent woman I meet either is a feminist or would be if they took the time to think about it. Well over 3/4 of them anyway.

GetOrfMo1Land Mon 26-Sep-11 22:51:39

I would like to hope it would be self evident once someone got to know me, tbh.

I have had some interesting conversations at work such as 'oh you're not one of those feminists getorf, are you' and my responding (mildly) 'yes, of course I am'.

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