The Feminist-O-Meter by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Not my way to see Feminism_ then that's NOT Feminism_

Have you heard about, applied or received the Feminist-O-Meter lately?

The Feminist-O-Meter is a tool that often appears in feminisms and women rights activisms, fostering power struggles, cliques, jealousies and -if that is not enough – encouraging the reproduction of mainstream socialization that fosters competition and alienation among women.

It can be summed in the expression:

“Not my way to see Feminism? Then, that’s NOT Feminism”

I see feminisms as revolutions of subjectivities based on the radical idea that women are people … and it turns out that people are diverse, we are the result of our experience and the way we interpret them.

So, I do not understand why there is so much drama, judgment, outrage and social punishment in feminist spaces when those involved are undertaking the process of discovery, of claiming back our personhood by legitimizing our different ways of thinking, our understandings of liberation, and our acknowledgment of what makes us happy and makes us feel feminist.

The Feminist-O-Meter makes activisms for women’s rights feel like programs of discipline in which we receive training on what to say and how to say it, how to behave and act in order to “not harm THE MOVEMENT” (Which one?) if we want the right to belong to it.

There are many examples in which a comrade who does not want to follow the group or challenges the views of the women in power, has her “Feminist Card” taken from her.

If she dares to criticize the “sacred cows”, to challenge ideas that are assumed to be absolute truths, it is very likely that she will feel the sting of the Feminist-O-Meter.

Differences in living out the tenets of feminist practices often serve as a reason to apply the Feminist-O-Meter. If an activist believes in #ForWomenOnly spaces, she can be shamed by her peers for being a “Man Hater”, she must not be a good feminist, “not like us who are so nice, wise and inclusive”.

The Feminist-O-Meter is also applied for more personal things like wearing make up and high heels, using menstrual cups or disposable pads, getting married or not, taking the name of your husband or not, language expressions, clothing choices, hobbies preferences etc, etc, etc.

Upon the Feminist-O-Meter and on behalf of the Highest and Most True Concept of Feminism, we discriminate against other activists because of their race, sexual identity, life style or social class; or we alienate or boycott them simply because we have to take care of our fight.

Nooo! It is not that we are prey to our insecurities or our desires for power and control; and it is not that we believe they’re taking “what is ours”, No, no, no, it is just that they think too differently and that then “is not Feminist”.

VI International feminist united pro

Bliss: My Feminist Card allows me to be a Feminist , even an Islamic Feminist !!

Yes, exactly like patriarchy and its “That’s not what a good woman would do”.

It’s exhausting.

Perhaps it is a good sign that we have advanced in overcoming Patriarchy: obviously, if we are willing to exclude women and their talents and have time to focus on these petty issues at length, it must be because we no longer have to worry about sexual violence, maternal death and the feminization of poverty, right? … Right?

The Feminist-O-Meter is the Instant Gratification Monkey of feminisms and is very effective for those who desire an ego boost. The cost of this though, is rejecting the opportunity to grow both individually and collectively. If there is no acceptance of difference and debate in the name of “The Movement” then no movement is possible, only dogmatism.

Michel Foucault says that we get used to resistance, that we become domestic and if someone decides to question the status quo again, we alienate them. I guess feminisms exist to shake comfort zones, including our own.

It is the space for challenge and different viewpoints, that makes feminism an effective strategy to dismantle patriarchy. The radical notion that women are people, that we have the right to a life free of violence, and that our struggles demand the ethical and voluntary duty to recognize each other in our basic humanity, also includes women who we dislike or who are in confrontation with us.

Just Saying.

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a specialist in training and community outreach in Gender, Communication and Interculturality. She’s also a learning and social projects designer and a qualitative researcher; an awarded activist for women’s rights who too does independent scholarship in Religion, Gender and Social Discourses. Nomadic writer. A woman with stories and geographies, lover of books, cats and spicy Chai.

Credit images to the author.

Categories: Activism, Feminism, General

Tags: , ,

11 replies

  1. The card is not for real – right?


  2. Vanessa, what a thought provoking piece. Thank you for your interesting ideas. I can understand your frustration with the infighting among women, and I also get frustrated with fundamentalist virtue signaling in progressive movements.
    I do believe there is a place for ethical analyses. I’m not a total relativist. I can also see how the prioritizing of individual choice to a dogmatic degree becomes an idol that distracts and harms. This article says it well:
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think you put your finger/pen/keyboard on a problem that we seem to have in many areas of life, Vanessa, and did it so well! We sometimes put people in little “boxes”, mistaking conformity for community. Religions have been doing it for centuries.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This really hits the nail on the head. There are certain streams of feminist thought that I disagree with, but it doesn’t make sense to me to declare that the feminisms I disagree with are “not real feminism.” I don’t believe that I or any other woman gets to decide what “real feminism” is. We can disagree, even vehemently so, without acting as though we have The One True Feminism (a lot of this actually reminds me of my background in Christianity and how different Christians, both progressive and conservative, argue that theirs is the “real Christianity” and they are the “true Christians.” It’s exhausting).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it frustrating when people can’t seem to have constructive dialog about these issues. I have appreciated when people have gently pushed me to consider ideas that I had not considered. I think there is a respectful way to discuss ideas that raises questions without beating anyone up. What bothers me is the snideness, the aggressiveness, of attitudes that are so determined to find the ‘right’ answer. In my tradition, truth lies in the tensions among our own experiences, the teachings of our traditions, and analysis of data.

    I would love to live in a world where I can gently ask questions of others and they can ask questions of me, in ways that do not lead to defensiveness, digging in our heels, feeling our identities criticized, and taking our ball and going home. There is so much money to be made in polarizing and dividing people – I think part of what feminism should stand for is, as you indicate, solidarity with one another in all our walks of life, as well as continuing to explore what feminism and empowerment mean.

    Thank you for the interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m reminded in reading this of Saba Mahmood’s work on agency, which I appreciate. We are each understanding our own agency and choice in the context of our lived experiences and cultural norms, and setting one standard for how The Feminist Movement should operate both privileges the (usually American, Western) model of feminism as the ideal and excludes individual currents within that American Western model, which is not a monolith.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmmm or maybe the truth hurts.I for one am sick of fake feminist.I remember before the 2016 election feminism was a dirty word in most places,now it’s the word of the year!I know womyn who went to the womyn’s march wearing their pink pussy hats and came home and did nothing the other 364 days of the year except whine.After almost 40 plus years of feminist activism I am tired of these womyn doing nothing but taking the rights others have worked hard to get.I have been a life long feminist and have been critized for it by these womyn who now claim to be feminist.I was told we are post feminist and feminism is no longer needed.If everyone who now claims to be feminist really were feminist we wouldnot be in this mess.When you ask these feminist to donate to help get womyn elected or back a choice organisation they simply can’t be bothered and it’s not do to financial reasons.I believe we need to hold each other accountable.Saying your a feminist is simply not enough!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I believe a feminist is for women’s equality and against sexism in word and deed. I am a feminist and if I choose to say or do something or to believe something in furtherance of these goals or while furthering these goals, then what I say or do or believe is what some (or one) feminists do.

    Liked by 1 person

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