living as a feminist



Recently, someone showed interest in me. He asked, “I’ve never met someone as captivating as you. Are you dating anyone right now?” so I replied, “No I’m not.” Then, he repeatedly told me “I don’t know why you’re single. What a waste. You should be able to find someone great easily.” When he told me this, I couldn’t hold it in ー I responded with “Why do I have to have a partner? Is that all that matters?”


It’s not just this person who has the idea that one’s worth can be measured by whether they have a partner or not. When I was in university, I heard someone say “If a girl’s cute but they don’t have a boyfriend, she definitely has a problem with their personality.” I think when people are single, nobody thinks of it as their choice; instead, people see them as someone who can’t be in a relationship. I think dating is fun, and I like it. But for other people to decide “What a waste for her to not have a partner” is not a compliment -- it is something that makes me uncomfortable.

フェミニズムに出会ってからわたしの生き方や価値観は大きく変化したように思う。わたしの大好きなドラマ『セックス・アンド・ザ・シティー』の中で“I love you, but I love me more.(あなたのことを愛してるけど、わたし自身のことをそれ以上に愛してる)”というセリフが出てくるんだけど、これを見てわたしも自分のことをもっと大切にしようと思った。自分のことを大切にすると、自然と他の存在のことをもっと大切に考えられるようになると思うんだ。

Since learning about feminism, I think the way I live and the values I have changed greatly. There’s a quote from one of my favourite dramas that stuck with me. It’s the line “I love you, but I love me more.” from Sex and the City. These words made me decide to cherish myself more. I think that cherishing yourself naturally makes you more able to cherish others.


What do you guys think when you hear the word “feminist”? When I went to the hairdresser’s the other day, I told my hairdresser that I’m studying gender studies (women’s studies, feminism), and was shocked when they responded with “Oh I see. Is it because you dislike men?”.


Apparently, the word “feminist” doesn't have a great image in society. Someone once told me, “That sounds kind of stifling.” I once came across someone who said “Girls who can’t get guys become feminists” online. Even though it’s great that a lot of people learn about feminism from the internet, I feel like it’s the bad impressions of feminism that spreads faster. I want to emphasize that it is not stifling to live as a feminist. Rather, what is stifling is this society that feminists want to change. Feminism doesn’t just consider women, it also considers all sexualities and other “minorities” that even extend to animals and nature.


In the media and on the internet, feminism is framed as misandry, or an issue that is women versus men. In recent times, there have been an increasing number of celebrities who proudly say that they are feminists. They bring attention to issues like human rights and environmental issues that are so obviously needed, but the media often takes a critical stance on them. The online response is usually strictly either hate or support, and I think that this shows that feminism has still not been accepted as a universal mindset. To publicly announce that you are a feminist may result in becoming the subject of attacks, and other people having a false impression of who you are.


Even though I’m majoring in gender studies myself, I often hesitate to tell people I meet that I’m learning about feminism. For example, when people ask me “What are you majoring in grad school?” I often answer with “sociology” or “anthropology”. There have been times when I avoid using the term “feminist” to protect myself, but I think that if I have time to worry about what others think of me, I want to use that time to overwrite the misconceptions of feminism and spread the word on what feminism really is.


Have you Emma Watson’s speech on the campaign “HeForShe” that she did at the United Nations in 2014? If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it! In her speech, she questions why the term “feminism” has been associated with such a bad image, and voices that what is important is not the term, but the ideas behind it. If there’s someone that has a good impression of the words “humanist” or “anti-racist” but has a bad impression of the word “feminist”, I think they’re someone who Emma describes as a feminist who is unaware that they are a feminist. By definition, feminists are people who believe in gender equality and want to eliminate societal oppression against people such as sexual and racial minorities.


“A feminist” is by no means a word to describe just a portion of women. To live as a feminist is not anything special, and feminism is an issue that is connected to everybody. I live with the hope to see the word “feminism” and research on it disappear. I want to be a part of making the world a less discriminatory place where people can make their own decisions for themselves regardless of their race or gender. Until such a future becomes reality, I want to fearlessly proclaim that I am a feminist and continue learning. Also, even within feminists, there’s a variety of styles of thinking. I’d love for you to share what you think!

Images by Yurina

English Translated by Kiara