As a woman who's not on the political left, why am I automatically excluded from calling myself a feminist?

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3 January
15:24
3 January
15:43

I don’t think you are excluded. There are women on the political right who call themselves feminists. At heart feminism is about saying women are not being treated fairly and asking how we deal with that. For women on the right, their analysis of how that unfairness manifests itself, and the reasons for it, and how you achieve change, is different. For example, Theresa May has a really good record on violence against women, although not refugee women. I don’t know whether she calls herself a feminist but she understands that male violence is a problem and that is a feminist analysis. 

"Right-wing feminism says, ‘This is the world as it is so let’s try to make things better for women within it.’ Left-wing feminism says, ‘Why do we have to accept the structures and make things better within them?"

But I believe feminism is about challenging power relations and right-wing feminism is unambitious. Right-wing feminism says, ‘This is the world as it is so let’s try to make things better for women within it.’ Left-wing feminism says, ‘Why do we have to accept the structures and make things better within them?’ Left-wing feminists believe in the class system and how that might affect your ability to rise up whereas right-wing feminists don’t. Right-wing feminism says men and women should be equal. Left-wing feminism says women should be liberated. That’s the difference. I don’t want to be raised to the same level as men because the ladder we’ve built requires dominance and power and suppression of emotions. An alpha male is essentially a psychopath. Why would I want to achieve equality with that?

"I work within the system and make small incremental changes. You have to bring other people along and accept that you’re not going to change everything overnight."

However, politics and how you live your life is a compromise. Something that plagues the left in general is not understanding how important that is in order to make change. So in reality I work within the system and make small incremental changes. You have to bring other people along and accept that you’re not going to change everything overnight. I disagree with the insistence that it’s all or nothing. You need to achieve a certain level of equality before liberation can happen.

Caroline Criado-Perez is the author of Do It Like A Woman

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