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Why would a woman say she's not a feminist?

215 replies

Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:10

I recently made a new friend. Today, over a playdate with our daughters, she told me twice and in very strong terms that she's not a feminist.

I don't understand what she means by this.

Some vague background...

She is in her 30s with two children, one of each sex. Her husband, from what she's told me and the little from when I met him, is one of the good guys. They both work, both full time I think and my assumption is their salaries are fairly equal (I know their job titles and they're approx equivalent levels of seniority).

We've talked around some men being useless and others being decent, both regarding housework, childcare, and general behaviour. We seemed well aligned on this.

I didn't feel quite brave enough to say 'what on earth do you mean you're not a feminist? What part of feminism puts you off?' but I might next time we're chatting.

I've shared a few things with her which implicitly give the impression I'm a feminist, or at least for a modern equality between the sexes compared with old fashioned views of eg husband being in charge in a marriage and she wholeheartedly agreed.

I don't think this is anything to do with gender vs sex etc, I'm pretty sure this one isn't hugely on her radar.

Her daughter has been subject to low level bullying which relates to her being a girl and she was a strong advocate for her at school, we both agreed the boy needed a message this isn't OK just as much as the girl needed support.

Does anyone have a friend who would claim not to be a feminist who can shed any light on this? This is not a family where the man supports them both and the woman stays at home, that isn't their values. I'm confused.

She's a really interesting, warm, funny person and I'd like to stay friends with her. It just threw me.

OP posts:

DigOlBick · 23/10/2021 23:12

It’s literally none of your business how people choose to label themselves.


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:14

I'm interested in something which confused me and I'm asking for others experiences of similar.

It's literally none of your business if I want to ask this question on the FEMINISM board.

It's a perfectly legitimate thing to try and understand.

OP posts:

Bollindger · 23/10/2021 23:15

Back off ,drop the subject, and keep a friend.


OrangeJuiceAndNoodles · 23/10/2021 23:17

I think in the case of some women, they consider it sexier/cuter/more attractive to men, if they're not feminists.


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:17

Did you not read my OP?

I didn't even pick the question up.

I found it a surprising thing to say and I'm interested in whether others have come across similar.

This is the feminism board and my question is not unreasonable. Why on earth are you choosing to tell me off rather than share experiences and perhaps enlighten me?

OP posts:

GreenLunchBox · 23/10/2021 23:18

I used to call myself a feminist but no longer do. A lot of people don't relate to feminism even though they wish things weren't so crap for women.


Heruka · 23/10/2021 23:19

I think it’s confusing too. Possibly a bit of a NAMALT position, believing feminism is about man hate? I think that’s quite widespread unfortunately. Tonight I am happy as DH 16 yr old niece who told me a year or so ago that feminism was awful because it meant men wouldn’t buy her dinner Shock was telling me enthusiastically about how she’s been learning about ‘gender inequality’ and the ‘motherhood penalty’. I was so pleased I didn’t even correct her to ‘sex inequality’.


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:19

orangejuice I think this would have describe me well in my teens and twenties but in this case I don't think it fits this person. Are there any other usual reasons why a woman who is broadly speaking left leaning would not associate the label 'feminist' with themselves?

OP posts:

TooBigForMyBoots · 23/10/2021 23:20

It's not unusual. In 2016 a study by the Fawcett Society found that only 7% of people in the UK would say they were feminists.


Hoesbeforebroes · 23/10/2021 23:20

My guesses:

They think feminists are all angry, hairy-armpitted harridans who hate men.

They (probably unconsciously) align themselves with the patriarchy to feel secure. Probably raised by and/or married to misogynists who keep them in their place.


Sweetchocolatecandy · 23/10/2021 23:21

Because some people see feminism as an extremist, anti-male school of thought and don’t want to be associated with it. I’m not saying that I hold that view personally but I’m pretty sure that hardly any of my friends (both male and female) would identify as feminists either. I’m not sure why your friend’s views are bothering you so much .


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:21

Lunchbox I promise not to argue with you or try and convert you, but if you'd be willing to outline a reason or two why you don't relate to feminism any more I'd really appreciate it.

OP posts:

Enough4me · 23/10/2021 23:23

It could be because feminists are being labelled by some as transphobic men-haters, when really it's about seeking equality and keeping women's rights.


ANameChangeAgain · 23/10/2021 23:23

She doesn't know what a feminist is. I think the majority of people I know, including my DH and children, are feminists, but wouldn't label themselves as such because they don't understand what the word means.


SpindelWhorl · 23/10/2021 23:24

Because feminism has been framed as an environment inhabited by mental harridans with whom nobody would want to associate.

Hey teacher, leave them princesses alone. Etc. As evidenced in your thread already.

Feminists meanwhile actually want a fair deal for women and girls.


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:25

Sweet I'm not sure entirely either. I think it just shocked me so much. We have lots of values in common and I took it for granted that she would be feminist leaning at least.

I forget the context but she was the first to use the word and she wanted to be very clear she wasn't a feminist, it felt really unexpected. Like in the middle of a conversation about enjoying watching the sun set over a horizon she'd suddenly declared that she was a flat earther.

OP posts:

Trisolaris · 23/10/2021 23:25

Most of the people who I have met who don’t want to be seen as a feminist are people who think that feminists call sexism at every opportunity. It’s often women who are happy to benefit from the opportunities that previous generations have advocated and fought for but aren’t willing to point out inequality that still exists between the sexes because then they will be seen as a complaining woman bringing sexism into everything.


PricklesTheHedgehog · 23/10/2021 23:28

It's surprisingly common for people not to know what 'feminist' actually means.

I was once pretty shocked to find out that seemingly intelligent acquaintances thought 'feminism' meant things such as 'campaign for female superiority' or 'group that dislikes men'.

If you ask these people if they believe that males and females should have equal rights and opportunities, they often nod enthusiastically.


Reallybadidea · 23/10/2021 23:28

I think maybe she's coming from a position of relative privilege where she has been successful in her career, is married to one of 'the good guys' and so just doesn't think that feminism is relevant/has anything to offer her? Perhaps her husband feels quite strongly that he isn't part of the 'problem' and that feminism threatens him in some way?


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:33

Reallybad I don't think that's it, she didn't have an easy childhood and I do think her husband is great - little snippets she's told me definitely paint a picture of a really decent guy, I won't go into details but I feel fairly confident on that. I've been around long enough to know shitty men of many different types and I'm really not getting that from him.

I think the association with hair armpitted man haters might be the most likely explanation. And my own armpits are pretty hairy at the moment so she might not be far off the mark. Though I don't hate all men, only the shitty ones.

OP posts:

RussianSpy101 · 23/10/2021 23:35

I don’t see why this would have any affect on whether you remain friends or not?


Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:36

Prickles also yes, I think this might be it. I really can't square anything else, though have to admit I don't know her that well.

Maybe in another decade I'll be brave enough to womansplain what feminism is really about each time I make a new friend. I'm pretty sure it'll stop the problem of me having new friends to get confused by!

OP posts:

Mum2021askingquestion · 23/10/2021 23:36

Where did I say or imply it would Russian?

OP posts:

RockinHorseShit · 23/10/2021 23:41

I suspect she felt the need to say it it to shut you up. It's not something anyone would ever feel the need to say without a reason & you clearly gave her a reason. Back off, drop the subject & keep an acquaintance. I doubt you'll be friends if you've made her feel this way so early on. Learn to talk to people & stop preaching at them


Enough4me · 23/10/2021 23:43

Try moving away from labels. I don't tell my friends that I'm a feminist, but I talk about my belief that women's rights matter and equality for both sexes. My partner (male) shares my views and gets angry about the current situation for women, but we don't refer to labels.

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