It’s very clear that in this society power lies with men. Maleness is the default in our society, women are the aberration, and it’s impossible to grow up not knowing that. You’re brought up being told that you should get men to approve of you. So when feminism is represented in the media as this evil man-hating thing and you know that by declaring yourself a feminist you will foment male disapproval, then the obvious approach is to say, “Oh, I’m not a feminist! They’re crazy bitches. I’m cool.” Instant male approval. I know this because I was originally opposed to feminism. You know the Cool Girl in Gone Girl? I was the Cool Girl. I didn’t want to be a crazy bitch and thought the best way to avoid that was by saying other bitches were crazy.
Here’s an analogy. Right-wing economic policy is common sense in many ways. You can understand it easily because it’s like a household budget. It makes intuitive sense on an individual level. Left-wing economic policy is more complicated because you have to look at the country as a whole. The structures involved mean that what makes sense on an individual level might not make sense at a collective level.
Similarly, as an individual woman you might think you’re more likely to get abuse if you say you’re a feminist so it’s better to agree with the men that women are nuts and hope that they treat you differently. Again, it makes sense on an intuitive level. But when you understand feminism, you realise it’s much better to create a movement and fight to change society’s entire perception of women rather than just fight to liberate yourself from that perception. In both instances a woman is fighting back against being told she’s irrational and over-emotional and her opinions don’t count. The individualistic way is the easiest to understand. In order to approach it from a feminist perspective you need to start thinking about the structures in society and fighting back against the messages you receive. I think a lot of women don’t question this culture. You have to question the common sense narrative and think, hang on, is this right or do we have to change it all?