This is the official blog of the Feminism Society of Royal Holloway University of London.To join our mailing list or submit an article, feel free to email To pay your society membership please visit

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Check Your Feminist Label

By Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton,
SURHUL Equality & Liberation Officer

This post doesnʼt just apply to feminism, but to any label you define yourself with. This post is for those of us who have worn a label for so long, we almost ignore it, and feminism is my example.

Wearing a label for a long time, such as ʻfeministʼ or ʻfeminist allyʼ, we sometimes forget to challenge ourselves and the stories we hear. We forget to assess our language and our actions. We think ourselves untouchable, and we forget to question that too.

This is dangerous because it can close off the open minded from investigating the opinions we hold. When you were curious about feminism, when you were confused yet enthralled by the sheer majority of opinions and debates to be had, who did you turn to?

Amongst others, you turned to feminists. We turn to the people who define themselves by the label we are so curious of. This is normal, of course we would ask a self proclaimed expert! The danger lies in the assumption that we, as the expert and proud owners of this label, know it all. This experience can also be alienating for those labelled as feminists and who actively analyse the world around them, while the “experts” no longer question the world or their actions.

If weʼre supposed to be leading a movement or a new wave of thinking, how can we expect others to listen to our challenging ideas when we cannot challenge our own? We should question ourselves and each other more often. We should look at our actions, not only in our political lives but our work lives, our private lives and our relationships. Attitude shapes behaviour, and it should be an attitude worth being shaped by.

Nobody is perfect and we all slip up, but the important thing is to listen and to learn. We need to learn from every mistake, whether it be personal or political. We need to work hard to remain open-minded enough to listen at the time of criticism, which isnʼt easy. We are university students: we complete our education by ticking the right boxes and making the right choices - but we are also taught to analyse and question, to come up with our own ideas and to assess. So apply this analysis to yourself and your labels.

Stop. Assess. Question. Be curious. Dwell. Listen. Think, and question again.

No comments:

Post a Comment

When commenting, please remember that whilst this blog welcomes constructive discussion on feminism, we also aim to maintain a safe blogging space for our members and readers and therefore shall not publish abusive or discriminating comments or tolerate harassment.