I do not label myself as a feminist. Why is that? Do I not think women are equal to men? Of course I do. However, that doesn’t require one labels oneself a feminist.
First off, liberal humanism covers all bases anyway. A short definition of classic liberalism would be that it is “…a view of society and political ideology where the individual’s freedom is the base foundation, and with close ties to equality, human rights and democracy”. If one is a liberal, one does in fact stand for gender equality per default, regardless of self-proclaimed feminism or not.
Secondly, because I feel the term has been tainted by the contemporary radical streams within the feminist ideology. Today, it seems, the struggle (again, at least here in the secular Western world) is more about waging a pointless gender war than about equal rights. If it was the latter, Swedish feminism ought to focus more on men’s issues than on women’s, as today only men face gender-biased legislation in Sweden. That is however clearly not the case. Instead men are made out to be oppressing, selfish and violent brutes, carrying collective guilt for anything bad that ever happens to women (even if it would be a direct consequence of a woman’s own life choices).
I reject this black and white view of the world, and find collective guilt-mongering as unconstructive and unfair when it is aimed at a gender as when it is aimed at a race or a religion. We are all individuals, fully (and only) responsible for our own actions, words and values, and worthy of being treated as the unique human beings we are. This is equally true for Saudi females and Nordic males.
Finally, it seems contemporary feminism has become fixated on equal outcome, rather than equal opportunities. The mere fact that women does not constitute at least 50% of any group to which they want access (let’s not talk about gender shares among homeless, suicide victims, work injuries or heavy, dangerous job positions, because why would anyone want to use affirmative action to get into those groups?) is in itself seen as proof of oppression, that women are “kept down” by power hungry men and a socialization-made glass ceiling.
I agree that sometimes the gender roles are limiting, and may lead to prejudice. It is worth our efforts to widen them and increase the flora of socially acceptable life choices for both men and women. However, the fact that men and women are (to some extent) biologically different is apparent, and believing that male and female life choices will ever be exactly the same in all regards is both naive and futile. Better then to fight proven discrimination if and when it is spotted, and otherwise focus on creating equal opportunities, rights and obligations for both sexes. True freedom and equality is being allowed to make your own life choices, regardless of whether these align with the norm or break it.
The dominant radical branch of contemporary Western feminism, with its conspiracy theories on “the Patriarchy” and handing out of collective guilt, does not meet with these standards. Therefore I reject the feminist label for now, until its radical branch has imploded in a cloud of post-modern relativism, leaving room for a more classical liberal take on feminism and gender equality.