The Importance of Feminism
"I don't need to convince men that feminism is important, that just isn't a goal of mine. I can't even have that conversation, of whether or not it's important, because if someone asks me that they're my mortal enemy and I don't want to have a conversation with them until they grow-up."You may wish to add this snippet to the classic list of feminist quotations that we are all so familiar with—the one that has been circulating for years.
— Kathleen Hanna: the original Riot Grrl; founder of the band Bikini Kill
For my own part, I could never entertain the least shred of doubt as to the importance of feminism. To give voice to such doubt, to propagate such doubt through the world at large, just isn't a goal of mine. I am indeed profoundly convinced that feminism is very, very important—and to undertake any additional persuasive exercise for my benefit would be an effort entirely misspent. Therefore, Kathleen Hanna may rest easy—secure in the knowledge that here is one man who needn't be convinced and accordingly needn't grow up. Moreover, it warms my heart and gives me the fuzzy-wonderfuls to know that Kathleen Hanna and myself are the best of friends—since, given that it would never cross my mind to "ask her that", it clearly follows that we aren't mortal enemies. And you'll never know what a blessed relief and a Balm of Gilead it is to me, and what a grievous burden of affliction it doth lift from my soul, to be able to say this!
Feminism is "important" because it is a matter of import—which is to say, a matter of consequence or significance. Knowing what I know of feminism, and the magnitude of shadow it throws upon the world, how could I ever possibly suggest the contrary? My good friend Kathleen Hanna and I would never, ever have occasion for "that conversation" in any form, since we are most assuredly of one mind upon the key article that feminism is a matter of import. That thesis is rock-solid, and not the least subject to disputation. So it is settled once for all, between Kathleen Hanna and myself, that feminism does not lack importance!
A few years ago, I was acquainted with a certain young man—a good-natured chap and, let me say it, rather simple—who didn't know what feminism was! I spoke the word during a conversation, and he looked at me blankly and said "what's that?" (To add some human context here, this young man was living with his girlfriend at the time. She was an art student, and just then in the process of discovering Susan Sontag's writings. She was later sexually unfaithful to him and, on her own initiative, broke up with him.)
Now it might seem harsh to the young man, to say of him that he needed to "grow up". A perhaps uncharitable imputation, considering that he didn't even know what feminism was in the first place and so could offer no meaningful assessment of its importance. Yet the sad fact remains, that my good friend Kathleen Hanna would have needed to convince him, and to have had "that conversation" with him. And this, understandably, just wouldn't be a goal of hers, since if he were to say to her "what's that?", he would clearly be requesting—by implication— a validation of feminism's importance, meaning that the implied burden of providing such validation would fall upon her.
And we couldn't have that now, could we? Or couldn't we? Clearly, somebody around here needs to grow up . . . wouldn't you say?
At any rate, I would carry all of this a bold step further. I would proclaim that feminism collectively, as a whole, is likewise exempted from any duty to convince us of its "importance"—and somehow, I feel certain that my excellent good friend Kathleen Hanna would enthusiastically second my initiative, for if she would personally claim the right to such a thing, how could she not make it freely available to the entire Sisterhood as well, eh?
Therefore it seems that neither Kathleen, nor the feminist movement collectively, has any duty to convince us that feminism is important. In the same vein, they have no duty to explain WHY feminism is important, since they would need to explain this as a part of explaining the first thing. Are you with me?
Mind you, I'm talking about men specifically as targets of the exemption. So I'm guessing that women are free to interrogate at will, and that we men can provide our designated female proxies with long lists of questions to take to such sessions?
But wait! Can it be that women too are on my good friend Kathleen Hanna's mortal enemies list, when they attempt to have "that conversation"? My good friend isn't quite so clear upon this point, but I wouldn't hold that against her, since she IS my good friend after all!!
All right, let's make this simple—at least until my very good friend gets back here with some damn straight answers! Since Kathleen Hanna and every feminist on earth presumably has no duty to convince the rest of the world (including women) that feminism is important, or why it is important, and since I am myself quite fully convinced that feminism is enormously important indeed—meaning consequential and significant in the grand scheme of things—then it shall please me enormously to make the truth about feminism acidly known to the world at large.
My most exemplary and highly esteemed friend Kathleen Hanna, and her eminently worthy feminist sisters, may depend on it that I will step happily up to the plate in their stead and work like the devil to convince both men and women, the wide world over, of the importance of feminism. And you know what? I won't even wait for those people to "grow up" either. Heavens no, I'll get straight to work, toot-sweet, on that oh-so-vitally important conversation, ah . . .yes indeeeeed. . . . . !
Consider: I have been publishing, for just over two years, a web log called The Counter-Feminist. And for all of that time it has been my unflagging endeavor to convince people that feminism is a matter of profoundly great importance. Seriously: would I call myself The Counter-Feminist if I didn't believe that feminism was important? Feminism, I can assure you, is in the best possible hands. . . . . ;-)