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It's about time someone came out and said it. It seems to be a slightly dangerous thing to say, though, since the word "feminist" is about as clearly defined as the word "democrat" -- and when last did you meet anyone, of any political persuasion whatsoever, who claimed not to be a democrat? It's what we pinko-liberal socialist feminazi scum like to call "contested terrain".

So before anyone extrapolates from their own interpretation of "feminist" to any further conclusions about me, let's clear a couple of things up (or maybe shake things up).

Firstly, I might as well admit right up front that, oh dear, yes, I do have armpit hair -- although sometimes to often in summer I don't (it's winter for me now. Figure it out for yourself). It's not really all that big a deal for me, you know?

I should probably follow that up by mentioning that I am not a lesbian -- not, of course, that there would be any reason for you to think of me differently if I was. But for some reason a few people seem to have an equation in their heads that goes feminist=man-hater=lesbian, which is wrong at every step. Actually, I like men, at least some of them, some of the time. Hell, I'm even married to one! Happily, even. I hope at least one or two people are a little confused by this.

That statement about liking some men, some of the time, should be clarified. It's like this: some people are assholes -- it's one of those things about the world. So, some men are assholes, many are not. Some women are assholes, many are not. Some feminists are assholes, many are not. Some Everythingians are assholes, many are not. You see the pattern. There's probably some kind of normal distribution of assholes, so every group gets to have a few of its own. There's nothing much we can do about it, but we certainly shouldn't judge everyone by the assholes. (Oddly enough, I've discovered that even assholes can be quite cool people sometimes when you get to know them, but that's another story.)

Actually, I don't believe men are the real problem -- and neither do many of the other feminists I know, come to think of it (except maybe the very, very young ones).

So, what is the real problem? This can be difficult to explain without getting into a rather tedious and long-winded discussion about class, patriarchy, race, gender, socialisation, biology, history, cultural relativism, the forces of global capitalism and a whole lot of other stuff that nobody (least of all me) really wants to get into on a Friday morning. So I will restrict myself to this: when I look around at the world -- and this might be a good time to remind a few people gently that the world is a lot, lot bigger than North America -- I notice that a disproportionate number of people who are poor, sick, struggling, badly paid, under-educated, beaten up, and generally pushed around are women. The reasons for this are complex and difficult to unravel, and probaby best not pursued along the lines of "whose fault is it", because that makes everyone defensive. I'd rather focus on possible solutions. Now, I happen to be a member of a small, incredibly privileged global elite of women: I am highly educated, financially independent, healthy and supported in my aspirations by the values of my family and my community. So in one sense, it's not my problem: I'm doing fine. But I choose to care, not just because I feel a certain moral obligation to do so, but also because the gains made by my foremothers in the last hundred years or so are not yet completely secured, and won't be until every woman -- every person, for that matter -- has the same opportunities I've had.

That's what feminism means to me, that's why I'm proud to consider myself a member of the sisterhood, and that's why you'll never hear me saying apologetically to the man, "Don't get me wrong, I'm not a feminist".

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