I think (or at least, I like to think) that most people in our society would agree that women deserve the same political, social, cultural, legal, and economic power as men. By at least one definition of feminism, that would make them feminists. But is being a feminist really that easy?

In one online forum that I frequent, there was a thread asking the community whether they were feminists. People generally responded in support of feminist ideas, yet the poll (with a total of 143 votes) stated that over a third said they weren't feminists. Why might that be?

Several posters discussed an idea that, after much thought, I eventually agreed with: the mere belief that society should aspire to achieve gender equality is not sufficient to qualify a person as a feminist. One must also make conscious efforts to achieve it. This would involve deconstructing ways that sexism pervades society, and giving heavier consideration to the voices of those most adversely affected.  For those privileged, this can be a challenge.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing inherently wrong with having privilege - after all, a person with privilege is still a person. But it does mean that it's harder to recognize things like sexism when you have it. As a feminist, I have to give weight to a woman's opinion when she claims something is sexist even when I don't immediately recognize it as sexist.

Accepting the responsibilities of "qualifying" as a feminist can be hard. Ironically, as a bisexual Chinese male, I think the transition was made easier for me thanks to being privileged in one way yet disadvantaged in another. But, in my opinion, it is a necessary step toward the cherished goal of  true equality.

Posted by: Anton Li

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