It is no secret that GrrlPunch is a feminist magazine. We advertise ourselves as a for grrls, by grrls organization. However, when we first started I shied away from the word “feminism.”
This word is merely a label, but it is unusually controversial. In and of itself, it stands for something great: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. However, in today’s political climate it can cause a stark divide and heated discussions.
As a result, I avoided labeling GrrlPunch as feminist organization in the beginning. I wanted everyone to participate in our magazine, and I did not want a silly word to deter potential grrls.
However, now, nearly three years later I embrace the term. I announce with fervor that we believe and stand for anything and everything feminist. I do this because I want the grrls in our magazine to believe in feminism wholeheartedly.
I got myself into the mindset that there were only two sides to this discussion. It was not until I got into an argument with my own brother that I was able to see the discussion is not exactly black and white.
My brother, Justin, falls into the gray area when it comes to feminism—the area in which the term is not interpreted in one of the two extremes. Originally, I found this extremely surprising. Justin and I typically agree on most things political. However, during one of our recent discussions I asked him if he identifies himself as a feminist, and he said no.
When I first heard his opinion it took me aback and, honestly, offended me. I thought to myself, “Justin knows about GrrlPunch and supports us completely. How can he not call himself a feminist?”
He told me, “I don’t really like to use any labels, generally. It has nothing to do with feminism in particular.”
He went on to explain that he is not morally opposed to labels, instead, he just doesn’t apply them to himself. He clarified, “When I say ‘label’ I mean an -ism that summarizes some kind of ideology.” Moreover, he believes that these -isms tend to package beliefs, and he prefers to make up him mind on individual issues piece by piece.
In every aspect, my brother works to avoid labels because he believes they can stand in the way of the discussion, especially when it involves “shaming and the threat of ostracism.”
As it pertains to feminism, Justin agrees with the mainstream ideas. In fact, he went to D.C. for the Women’s March and donates to Planned Parenthood each month: “If your definition of a “feminist” is someone who thinks that women are people, then obviously I am one.”
Overall, Justin thinks the term can be convoluted, after all, the meaning of that terms varies from person to person.
“Someone could call themselves a feminist and use all the correct words while still holding abhorrent beliefs or behaving badly—the so called “woke misogynist,” Justin said.
Hearing this different perspective opened my eyes to the gray area. Gray areas are a reality and it can be detrimental to only view the opposing sides. While, I do not necessarily agree with his mindset entirely, I think it is always important to investigate every angle of a conversation.
In fact, it is imperative to understand an argument fully in order to evolve your opinions on the matter.
After speaking to my brother, I understand the harm in labels. Thus, I want to work to define my own definition of a feminist while still calling myself one.
Ultimately, my beliefs will always align with the notion that “feminism is for everybody.” However, I would have never fully arrived to this conclusion without hearing the opinions of my brother and many others.