COUNTERPOINT: The moving goalposts of feminism


Hunter Hartlage

Recently, an opinion piece about why the author believed that pro-life women were rightfully excluded from the Women’s March on Washington was published on RedEye. In her piece, the author stated that people who did not support abortion are not actually feminists, and therefore should not be welcome in the feminist movement.

The feminist movement, however, is not identified by a defined set of beliefs. True, the Women’s March is an organized effort by a group of people who label themselves as feminists, but feminism itself is not an organization. Feminism is an idea, and an incredibly fickle one at that.

Feminism has no doctrine; no one person or group has the authority to determine who is or isn’t a feminist. The Oxford Dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes,” but this, as well as other definitions, is still not finite. Is a feminist simply someone who supports gender equality? Must one be an activist in order to be considered a feminist? As these questions cannot authoritatively be answered by anyone, there is no basis by which one can officially be called “not” a feminist.

Despite this, self-proclaimed “feminists” are constantly trying to excommunicate others from the movement because of their viewpoints. Self-righteous feminist activists and groups use terms like “misandrists” or “white feminists” to alienate individuals who disagree with them from the collective feminist movement. It’s similar to how sports fanatics will accuse people of not being “real fans” if they don’t know certain statistics or athletes. Apart from being petty, they do this in an attempt to legitimize their own beliefs and establish anyone who thinks differently as an outsider. With sports, you’re not a fan unless you know the names of every team’s quarterback. With gender equality, you’re not a feminist unless you support the murder of unborn children.

I’m not saying that the Women’s March should have welcomed pro-life women to participate. The March is an organized event, and it’s official website states that its activists are to be in favor of abortion. What I’m saying is that pro-life women are just as qualified to be feminists as those who are pro-choice. Nobody has the authority to deny them that title; not any individual feminist, not The Oxford Dictionary, and not The Women’s March on Washington.