If You Can’t Say Something Feminist, Don’t Say Anything at All

I really enjoy refusing to identify as a feminist, in large part because I simply do not identify as one—it is, by-and-large, a neurotic, intransigent, viciously ugly political movement dedicated chiefly to killing unborn human beings in the womb—but also, in a small but fun way, because refusing to call yourself a feminist drives actual feminists kind of crazy. They like to say something along these lines: “If you believe men and women should have equal rights, you’re a feminist. I’m sorry, but you are.” Don’t you dare try and say otherwise! It’s a rich and profoundly goofy irony that, in our society today, people with penises can identify as “women” and people with vaginas can identify as “men,” but those who believe in political equality between the sexes simply cannot, by golly, identify as anything other than what feminists say they can.

One is not apt to ever feel all that sorry for Taylor Swift, given that she has about a quadrillion dollars and ten or twelve New York penthouses, but nevertheless she has been put through the feminist wringer in recent months, and one imagines that—for someone who is so obviously concerned about her public image—it has caused her no small amount of anguish:

As proof of her feminist failures, editor Kadeen Griffiths listed Swift’s many faults: not criticizing President Trump, not “publicly support[ing] organizations” like Planned Parenthood and not attending the Women’s March (her tweet apparently wasn’t enough.) Outlet after outlet has pressured Swift to condemn the president in the name of feminism. In January, the Daily Beast went so far as to accuse her of “Spineless Feminism.” Swift may be the highest-paid artist in the world, but her decision to speak out on issues as she pleases rather than as others call on her to means she gets little credit for the space she’s made for female artists.

In other words, being a feminist requires speaking out on certain things in a certain way.

It does—and that is true of liberalism more generally in the Age of Trump: there is a certain way to go about these things, a long list of boxes you have to check off before your political opinions are acceptable. This is much more than an obsessive-compulsive and bullying way to force people to agree with you: it is, in the end, a way to hamstring public discourse, to kneecap the pretense of any kind of diverse political landscape. It is particularly insidious in that way: in the name of “equality,” Taylor Swift is apparently supposed to believe in all of the same things in which a narrowminded and relentlessly uncompromising political cohort believes. She’s free to be her own woman, so long as she filters her opinions through the judgment of these other women. See?

Everyone wants everyone else to agree with them, of course—I, for one, wish people felt the same way about Star Wars as I do—but there is something very strongly paranoid and hysterical about the more fervid strains of cultural progressivism today, an underhanded desire not just to say someone’s opinion is wrong but that the notion of a dissenting opinion is itself wrong in actu. That is why, for your average modern feminist, the very idea of not being a feminist is unconscionable—and why successful and influential women must be publicly browbeaten and nagged to conform to the abortion-loving, pussy-hat-knitting, Trump Derangement Syndrome-suffering politics of the feminist movement.

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