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Feminists need to stand up for all women and people

Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press
Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press

It’s no secret to those who know me, have watched “Minutes with Molly,” or have had a humanities class with me that I’m a feminist.

I refuse to make apologies for this. I won’t say, “Yeah, but I’m not, like, one of those radical feminists or anything, I shave my legs and I wear a bra. I’m just like you.” At 16 years old, it’s pretty safe to say that I’m ensconced in what many people would view as a radical frame of mind, and I enjoy it. 

Feminism has done a lot for me and, more importantly, for women and men around the world. I believe that feminism is not only, as Rebecca West once famously said, “The radical notion that women are people,” but the radical notion that everyone is a person and everyone deserves equality.

However, despite this and despite my pride in being part of what I view as an extremely valuable culture (misandry isn’t real, people), there are some aspects of radical feminism that completely repel me and have made me seriously consider dropping the label that was once so close to my heart. 

There is a national convention held at Conway Hall in London called RadFem 2012, which, as the name would suggest, is a gathering of radical feminists. To many people, that sounds terrifying and hairy, but when I first heard about it I sighed and wished I could go – then I clicked to another tab and promptly forgot all about it.

The other day, however, as I was reading one of my favorite Check Your Privilege tumblrs, I noticed that RadFem 2012 had been called off. Surprised, I went to see why. Here is most of Conway Hall’s official statement regarding the cancellation:

“In consultation with the organisers of RadFem 2012 and our legal advisors, Conway Hall has decided not to allow the booking in July 2012 to proceed. This is because it does not conform to our Terms and Conditions for hiring rooms at Conway Hall. In addition, we are not satisfied it conforms with the Equality Act (2010), or reflects our ethos regarding issues of discrimination.

“We had sought assurances that the organisers would allow access to all, in order to enable the event to proceed at the venue. We also expressed concern that particular speakers would need to be made aware that whilst welcoming progressive thinking and debate, Conway Hall seeks to uphold inclusivity in respect of both legal obligations and as a principle. 

“In the absence of the assurances we sought, the event in its proposed form could not proceed at Conway Hall.

“That said, we recognise the breadth of debate to be had amongst the feminist and transgender communities and it is our sincere hope that there will be constructive and positive dialogue on these matters going forward.”

The most important part of this statement is the last paragraph. RadFem 2012 was cancelled because of hateful comments made about transgender women, and transgender women were essentially banned from attending. Feminism, and radical feminism in particular, has been called out time and time again as racist, transphobic, overwhelmingly cissexist, as well as exclusionary in a number of other ways.

My personal beliefs about feminism notwithstanding (that to be a feminist means to support equality for everybody regardless of race, gender, sexual preferences, etc.), the fact remains that throughout time, many feminists have truly been too extreme, too focused on one goal and one goal only. They would often exclude any person of color and anybody who would “undermine” the cause by being too offensive to the mainstream.

It’s time for us feminists to go really crazy and stand up for, not just white women, but women of color, transgender women, queer women, intersex women, every woman. Girl power should be for every girl, not only those deemed “acceptable,” by this flawed society, because feminism has never been about being acceptable, and I see no reason for it to start now.

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