So, another person calling herself a feminist has posted another public rant, filled with hate and abusive language, targeting a minority group (of women, no less!) lower on the totem pole than herself. I found pieces of it – along with a well-written and delightfully snarky retort – on Consider The Tea Cosy . (As of yesterday or so, the original article was taken down and an apology posted – though I believe one of the Tea Cosy commentariat posted a link hosted elsewhere, if you really feel like slogging through the schoolyard name-calling vitriol.)

It got me thinking: What is the goal of feminism, exactly?

For some, it seems, feminism is about raising the status of women in the world. For some it is about taking power back from men, away from men. For some, it is about the expression of sexuality, gender identity, conformity or non-conformity to societal norms. For the writer of the article in question (a self-described “militant feminist”), it seems to be about pointing out all the ways men have more freedom than women – even people described as men at birth who would prefer to live their lives as women, who have a need and a desire to live as women – and how unfairrrrr that is. As tempted as I am to go into that more, I think Ms. O’Riordan has already covered it wonderfully. Instead, I will say this:

I think feminism is about freedom. And here’s the thing: if we can’t all be free, then none of us are free.

Feminism is about basic human rights. The right to be oneself. The right to live free of hatred. The right to live free of violence. The right to live free of shame. Feminism is more than just a women’s issue. And if I accept that feminism is a human rights issue, then I accept that feminism is about supporting the rights of those around me.

Feminism means supporting the rights people of color have to be seen always as equals, as peers, as who they are and not their racial history. It means supporting their right to be free of hatred, shame, persecution, prejudice, bias, violence. It means supporting their right to have a voice. I lend that support gladly.

Feminism means supporting the rights the LBGTQ community has to live life in the open, to seek and find and celebrate relationships as freely as the straight community does. It means supporting their right to be free of violence, hatred, shame, persecution, prejudice, bias. It means supporting their right to have a voice. I lend that support gladly.

Feminism means supporting the rights that trans people of all genders have, to be called not by the gender they were assigned at birth but by the gender they have always known themselves to be, to live life openly, at home in their own body. It means supporting their right to be free of bias, violence, hatred, shame, persecution, prejudice. It means supporting their right to have a voice. I lend that support gladly.

Feminism means supporting the rights that women have, to be treated as human beings and not decorations or toys or children. It means supporting their right to be free of prejudice, bias, violence, hatred, shame, persecution. It means supporting their right to have a voice. I lend that support gladly.

Feminism means supporting the rights that men have, to be treated as human beings and not cavemen or animals or simpletons. It means supporting their right to be free of persecution, prejudice, bias, violence, hatred, shame. Yes, it means supporting their right to have a voice. Yes, I lend that support gladly.

And I hope I can rely on that same support in return.

Feminism is about educating oneself. It means not just pointing out the privilege of others, but examining one’s own privilege and realizing the ways in which we, too, are flawed and prejudiced. It means re-structuring our beliefs to be more inclusive. Feminism is not about taking away rights; it is about extending them. It is about recognizing the humanity in every living soul; it is about respecting that humanity. It is not enough to support the rights of those like us or those that agree with us. Believing in equal rights means believing even in the rights of our oppressors. That does not mean supporting their presumed “right” to oppress us; but it means recognizing the humanity even in those we consider the enemy. It means understanding that the system, the kyriarchy, The Man, screws us all up; it implants false belief systems and skewed world views in all of us. It means realizing our jailors also live in a cell.

Regardless of who we are or how we live our lives, we are all in this together. Screaming angry slurs across lines drawn in the sand will not get us anywhere. It doesn’t matter which side of the line we’re on. We are all human. We are all in this together.

Until all of us are free, none of us are free.

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