Why I am not a feminist | Betsy Cairo | TEDxMileHighWomen


Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven I think about gender all the time. Literally. I’m a reproductive biologist. (Laughter) I own the only commercial
sperm bank in Colorado, I direct a non-profit that specializes
in reproductive health education, and I teach a really fun class
at the University of Northern Colorado called Human Sexuality. (Cheers) (Applause) In this class, we spend a lot of time discussing the importance
of inclusive language. One of the biggies in this arena
is gender-neutral language. This is a hot topic in our broader
cultural conversation right now because using it allows those who do not subscribe
to a male or female gender binary to feel included. Feeling included is important;
it creates a safe space. That is why, as a society, we’re trying really hard not to pigeonhole
people, places, clothing, or even color into this gender binary. And this is a tough transition. After all, we put gender qualifiers
on a lot of things. Girl and boy clothes, girl and boy colors, girl and boy jobs. But unfortunately,
these gender qualifiers are not unifying because they force us
to focus on our differences, and if all we do
is focus on our differences, we can’t see our similarities,
and if we can’t see our similarities, we can’t come to the middle,
and the middle is crucial, because if we can get there, we can live in a truly equal
and welcoming society. (Applause) Sounds pretty nice, right? All we have to do is phase out language
that doesn’t serve this higher purpose. So, where to begin? Well, for me, it begins
with phasing out one word: feminism. (Audience) Yeah. (Applause) Growing up in the ’60s, the feminist movement
was hitting its stride. I remember images of women
tossing their bras into barrels to express their newfound freedom. But it was also around this time that I began to get this uneasy feeling
with the word ‘feminism.’ I didn’t understand it. But I do now. The word ‘feminism’ subscribes to a very strict
male or female gender binary. When someone tells me they’re a feminist, I take it to mean that they see extreme
differences between men and women and no so much our similarities. It feels polarizing. I am female. I am a scientist, business owner,
writer, wife, mother, teacher, PhD holder. I am a lot of things. (Cheers) (Applause) But I am not a feminist. Now, you might be glancing
at your neighbor. (Laughter) “What? She’s speaking at TEDxMileHighWomen,
and she’s not a feminist? She’s probably wearing a bra too.” (Laughter) But I wanted to speak here
today on this stage because so many of us in this room
want the same thing: equality. And I feel the best way for us
to get there is to change our language. We’ve seen the benefits
of changing our language before. Let’s address how language
allowed us to view the hallowed institution of marriage. The gay marriage movement
began decades ago, but calling it gay marriage by the media,
and almost everyone else, allowed its adversaries
to focus on the differences between opposite-sex
and same-sex marriage, and they kept focusing on the differences, and not the core of marriage,
that being two people who love each other. (Cheers) (Applause) But then, years passed, attitudes shifted, the political climate changed, and a new, more powerful label
to the movement took hold: the marriage equality movement. It was no longer gay marriage;
it was marriage equality. One word, one concept,
level playing field. This new language changed the conversation and required us, as a society, to address
the issue of civil liberties for all. We are standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to the fight
for gender equality. There were the suffragettes
in the late 1800s, the Equal Rights Amendment, early 1900s, Rosie the Riveter, World War II, and of course in the ’60s,
the explosion of the sexual revolution and access to birth control,
right around the same time – good thing too. (Laughter) But interestingly, when we look back
at their fliers, pamphlets, and banners, we see the words ‘women’
and, or, ‘equality’ more than we see the word ‘feminism.’ But that was a while ago. We need to address what happens now
when we use gender-specific language. If used incorrectly, we bury the lead and we don’t shine the spotlight
on the issue that really matters. For example, earlier this year, there was a scientist
that was awarded $1.1 million to continue their research
in a fight for a cure for cancer. Based on the headline, you couldn’t be certain
what the article was going to be about. The article reads, “Alabama scientist, one of the nation’s
few black, female physicists breaks ground in cancer research.” Imagine what our response would have been
if the headline read like this: “Alabama scientist, one of the nation’s
many white, male physicists breaks ground in cancer research.” (Laughter) Yeah, that would be strange. (Laughter) So, why do we put
gender qualifiers in one headline when we wouldn’t put them in another? Gender qualifiers get in the way
and so does the word ‘feminism.’ It is so focused on the gender binary
that it is leaving people behind, and I feel that the word itself
is stalling the movement. And these people that it’s leaving behind,
I don’t mean just men. There’s even an organization
called Women Against Feminism, and while they have
a lot of complaints about feminism, if you look at their comments
it stems around three major concepts. One: they don’t want what they call
‘Radical Feminists’ telling them what they can and cannot do. Two: they don’t want
to be judged by other women; and three: they say they’re not oppressed
because they already feel equal to men. So perhaps the word ‘feminism’
has outlived its time and that’s okay. There are a lot of words
we have said goodbye to because we have evolved beyond them. I know there may be some people
who will have trouble giving up this word. They may feel that it does
a disservice to the feminist movement or that we devalue women, but it doesn’t have to mean
either of those. What it will mean is that we will
embrace a new word, a new concept, that supports all people
in all of their struggles. And what will that word be? Equalism. It doesn’t subscribe to a gender binary,
it is gender-neutral, and it is very clear
about what the goal is. That is why I am an equalist. (Applause) A couple of weeks ago,
I assigned my college students a one-page journal entry. They had to respond to the question, “What does the word ‘feminist’
or ‘feminism’ mean to you?” Their responses may surprise you. While many felt that feminism was the concept
of not discriminating against women, just as many felt that the word
was outdated or that it had no meaning. But all of them used the word ‘equality’
when trying to define it. You don’t have to be a feminist
or use the word ‘feminism’ to want equality. So, if equality is what we want, then ‘equality’ is the word
we should be using because when we change the language,
we change the movement. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 thoughts on “Why I am not a feminist | Betsy Cairo | TEDxMileHighWomen

  1. I don't think seeing differences is a bad thing.
    For example, the difference between a tree and a bee!
    A tree creates oxygen so that all living things can breathe while a bee helps to pollinate flowers, fruits and other food sources so that all living things can eat.
    We don't look at a tree and try to make it more like a bee by trying to find something that is the same.
    We are grateful that each is different because both have something to give, to share and create life.

  2. Have you thought about this? Almost all women who oppose feminism openly allways say that they do that because feminism put women in a victum status, and even of that is true the reson for these women to oppose feminism is never to feel sorry for all the ordenary good men who have been so abused by feminism for decades, it's allways a selfish reason behind their stance.

  3. These days I viewed a lot of video on MGTOW, feminism etc…I must say that this one is the ultimate way to go. Thank you madame.

  4. Also I don't want to reach "the middle", I love women, not some generic individual with no feminine characteristics. I want to preserve femininity, not encourage women to abandon it. What would non feminine women do when they can't find a partner anymore because all the men will naturally go for surrogates like prostitutes or sexdolls or even virtual reality? I'm pretty certain they won't be particularly happy with their equal life in "the middle". It's already happening. Before thinking of the higher purpose you need to satisfy the lower one.

  5. Look at how she lists all her "accomplishments" to raise a cheer from the audience. "I'm so good, please celebrate me". Absolutely embarrassing. These kind of people are pathetic. Learn to be judged for what you say, not who you are.

  6. Most of it hates men for no reason it's a word it's outdated and needs to be retired I really go to the colonists as well

  7. I'd the most important aspect is not the tiny tiny minority that don't conform to male/female, but how the word feminism focuses on the female side, and the movement reflects it. Feminism fights for women, which makes sense with the word, and it makes sense when women are oppressed. But in the western world we have reached that, and should focus on equality not for women, not for men, but for everyone. Equality of opportunity and treatment, but not opportunity of outcome. We still need to accept that there are differences between the sexes. Fight for equality, for everyone. Not for one group.

  8. My spouse rejects gender equality for the following reason. "Last time I heard, only women push out babies." She also wants women to earn credits towards Social Security benefits, while not working when they have one or more children under age 10-12.

  9. Is equality really what’s being sought after? I imagine that can’t be the case if the future is female. I’d certainly feel like a bigot if I were to say the future is male. But resentment is understandable. It’s just not progressive.

  10. I get the language thing. But feminists wants «equality of outcome». The rest of us want «Equality of Opportunity». And those two are not even remotely the same. So when you say Equality, you have the same problem. What do you mean when you say equality?

  11. The idea of "equality" is a Marxist concept. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EQUALITY. There are no two people who are the same. There are no two grains of sand that are the same. The word "equality" is used as a weapon by Marxists/Feminists to manipulate people into agreeing with their agenda. If you research Marxist writings you will find the work "equality" used throughout all of it. The way that governments that used Marxist ideology (Russia, China, Cambodia, Cuba, etc.) achieved "equality" was too execute all of the people who were educated, successful, high ranking, or who had any money. The people that were left were at the bottom of the social level of success and competence. In other words they lowered the level of society to the lowest common denominator. Then they removed all incentive to achieve ANYTHING by dispossessing people of EVERYTHING they had. This is why so many people were killed and starved to death under Marxist governments. If you would like to see an example of Marxism in practice in the modern world, visit North Korea. Their government is so successful that millions of people starved to death in the streets in the late 1990s. The government did nothing to help them. Any ideology that condones the concept of "equality" is advocating for Marxism. If you like Communist police states, then support them.

  12. feminism is an ironic joke .
    feminism – " women are independent and equal to men"
    also feminism- " women need reservation , office leaves and biased laws"

  13. This brought me to tears; so many "feminists" have treated me as a pariah because I don't think the same way they do. I'm a woman against feminism because today's feminism isn't for all women…:/ thank u thank u for this talk. It was candid, refreshing and healing.

  14. men and women are really very different. men like the war, we want to fight everytime, only when we are sick or when come the night, we wanna peace.

  15. It has never been more popular, more normal, and more socially acceptable to hate ALL men. Celebrate this! Say it loud, and be brutal!
    Men will hurt and oppress all women again and again unless women take action while it's so easy to be heard and believed.

  16. You lost me at "Phase out language that doesn't serve [this] higher purpose" … This is Fascism 101. That is all. Equalism is a nice thought and I agree with some of the points presented however Men and Women are simply not the same. They have different needs, different biology, different ways of processing information, etc. and changing language is a dangerous path. I encourage anyone who leans towards this "equalism" movement to please keep this in mind.

  17. There are no feminists on a sinking ship! Hallowed institution of marriage? Try being a guy in Family court! Greatest arena of gender inequality that not one woman made an effort to correct! You change the language but make no changes for true equality you have only made ur movement covert. Men are no longer fooled. Think the Pence rule came out of thin air?

  18. Finally someone said what was in my mind. The thing about feminism lies much more into the language rather than the goals. The language itself is polarising ( us women, them men …Etc) . I don't want to feel I'm a part of a group called men or women which will push me to sympathize with one of the group's, but rather I want to feel I'm a part of the larger group of humans which will make me sympathize with whom ever have a problem. We are all Humans. Let's stop dividing ourselves into groups.

  19. I think it gets to be a problem when we deny the biological differences between men and women. We have girl and boy clothing for a reason. That's not because one gender is over the other, but because we do in fact have only two genders. No one can deny this as it is factual. And it seems to become even more of a problem when we start to involve the LGBTQ community. Because these are people whom deny their biological identification. This could be called delusion or gender dysmorphia. A female is meant to be a female. Not a Male. Does this mean that she isn't equal? No , but we must accept that men and women will never entirely be equal to one another. We simply are capable of things that the other gender may not be capable of. The problem with feminism is that feminists only wish to be equal when its convenient. In fact, one could argue that Feminists are pro-choice because they advocate for women's rights,but hypocrisy takes place once realizes that feminists advocate for women's rights but not the rights of unborn female children

  20. In my opinion, we haven't yet got to this point (the point where the discussion its just equality to everyone). Unfortunately, I believe the world still needs the "feminism" word. However, I hope soon we can get there.

  21. Just a small comment: you can't blame discord on language. If the opposition disagrees with something, they'll find the way to express it no matter the language involved.

  22. 자지가 허락해주는 이퀄리티ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ 그래봤자 페미니즘이랑 페미니스트는 안사라져

  23. This is a truly amazing speech. If anyone has the link for the transcript of this speech I would be greatly appreciative. I would like to use it as a source for my speech competition original oratory.

  24. There is no such thing as equality. Blacks run the fastest and furthest. Chinese play ping pong the best. Everybody is different. Lions do not care about zebra feelings when killing them.

  25. I refer to people as the way you present to me. If you are a women by birth or by horemones and surgery your a woman.

  26. "We need to stop calling it 'feces.' We need to call it, 'Food you have already enjoyed.' That will make it more, er, palatable."

  27. I’ve tried to explain this but they called me mansplaning… it seems we cannot reason with women anymore :’(

  28. Woo woo nonsense. Equalism is a lie that destroys civilizations. Accepting your biological uniqueness along with it's limitations is not a sin.

  29. Want to get to this highly toughed middle ground and equality? Accept the fact that we are all human and accept the fact that before you are anything, you are human. Equity is nothing but a scale. The moment any weight is put on one side of that scale or the other, the scale is no longer equally balanced. Stop focusing on things like gender natural pronouns and everything else. Because all you are doing is muddying the waters and continuing the existence of the same issues you are trying to solve.

  30. Great video! By the way, this is the central paradox I simply cannot fathom about feminism. Feminists are usually hardcore social constructionist (AKA Judith Butler-style) and believe that all differences between men and woman are results of social ingineering and societal indoctrination. This is why they keep blabbering about things like the wage-gap for example (which doesn't really exist). The paradox being that while they don't seem to believe in any inherent differences – regarding personalities, temperament and interests etc. – between the genders (because they believe discrimation is the sole cause of the wage-gap), they still seem to be the only ones enforcing gender binaries through their retoric. Women this and women that… It's such a collectivists type of thinking, which leaves absolutely no room left for the individuals that make up men and women.

  31. Anybody else notice that her footwear bears a striking resemblance to what handmaids wear in The Handmaid's Tale?

  32. The problem is that left wing people tend to claim that to fight for rights as a group your group must be systemically/institutionally oppressed and they have decided that women fit that since they historically had fewer rights than men, but you can't just fight for "equality" because then you're fighting for "non oppresssed" categories too… But I think in reality individuals' experiences of oppression and difficulty or privilege and opportunity are complex and multifactorial. And at the end of the day focussing on certain so called oppressed groups like women or "people of colour" perpetuates old divides and over simplifies things. It also perpetuates a sense of victimhood on one side and of being under attack on the other. So I agree, just care about people in general and call out injustice wherever you see it, but don't just divide everyone into simplistic oppressed/privileged groups.

  33. Agree on most things she said BUT there are still only 2 genders naturally and biologically speaking which I suppose a scientist should!

  34. Perhaps…if you wish to be included by society and participate in common interests… you should find things you have in common with everyone rather than label yourself as different, ie saying you don’t subscribe to traditional gender roles even though those gender roles are the only reason you’re here to take offense of said gender roles. If you feel like you are a royal dolphin inside this primate body…good for you. But If you ask me to disregard my beliefs and address you as your majestic porpoise I will politely decline. If you insist I will label you as a rabble rouser and decide I don’t care to have you in my life. Maybe if you think everyone making up society is wrong and has been for thousands of years then you need to be re-educated or see a psychologist for you’re delusions of persecution. because I bet no one’s even thinking about you anyway let alone erecting a crucifix for you.
    Conflict struggle and strife build character and create strong motivated people not coddling, and if you’re offended by that then you have never really had a true struggle.
    Ok I’m off my soapbox

  35. Women have equal rights as men already..what are these feminists fighting for? Trying to bring up issue where there's none..why cant they do something worth the time and energy

  36. I am trying to live a gender free exsistance of sorts. The emotional. stakes are too high. I went from over confidence to utter terror of the female species. Cluster B has alot to do with it. Bob

  37. Feminism is different in every country, you can't change the name of a movement just because it's solved in your country.

  38. I'm not an equalist. More of a splendaist. Sometimes a sweetnlowist if 7-11 has some in the morning. Or if I want to feel all organic and fancy, a sugarintherawist.

    Different names, same concept.

  39. Doing away with excluding language – great, all for it. Declaring feminism has served its purpose because we can now focus on being equals – deluded.

  40. Push equality to the farthest. I want to see men and women competing against each other in sports, equal no of men and women in all kinds of jobs – from CEO to manual labor, equal no of men and women in military. Otherwise, it's a lie.

  41. In the current intellectual climate, Women's rights + Men's right =
    Bitter and litigious polarisation. Women's rights and men's rights can
    very much be antagonistic.
    There can be no peace until gender feminism is firmly rejected by a
    large majority of first world societies. Until it is understood that
    procedural equality is consistent with a fair amount of inequality of
    condition. Women as a group differ from men as a group, in ways that we
    are all struggling to understand. Much of those differences arise from
    differences in preferred choices, and in differences about what constitutes a
    good life. It is not useful to dismiss those differences as imposed
    social constructions. Nor is it useful to dismiss all gender differences
    as a vast collection of social constructions.
    Women should be empowered by access to education, by revisions to family law, and by
    equal access to careers. But the gender differences that remain after
    this empowerment should be accepted as the outcome of choices freely made.

  42. She sounds like a preacher, and this sounds like religion. I'm fine with people having their beliefs but they shouldn't be able to push their beliefs on others. And she wants to change how we speak! How can you be more authoritarian as pushing your religious beliefs into such a private/personal sphere?

  43. It's actually kinda funny to me to hear this because I have a friend with some… Really troublesome political views, and one of the things he loved to joke about and make memes about was about feminism in a way that totally talked down the movement and portrayed it as something different that what it really is… And he did this mainly by distorting the discourse of radical feminists, which often differ drastically from most other feminists.

    And well, most of his arguments would fall flat if the word was egalitarianism instead of feminism, even though they'd still be fighting for the same things…

    Good talk overall, had some really nice points there~

  44. Binary gender? that thing i will never buy as an idea. I believe in biology, evolution, and science. Being different is not something one should be ashamed of but one can't force with a minority of 0.5% into a whole society and sell us his idea. In every manufacturing and production, there is % of defect and malfunction, it doesn't make it right though.

  45. Didn't we learn how millions of people died in the previous century in the name of equality?

    We should not return to communism as its based on group identity.

  46. Gender binary isn't a real thing it's a disorder and there's nothing wrong with gender expectations. It's worked for the entire animal kingdom for the last 100 million years or so and male and female, father and mother qualities are incredibly important

  47. Omg she has misunderstood the whole concept of feminism. Yes mostly feminism is only including of cis-straight-white women but they are included in ways. And one of the resons why we only talk about cis-white women is because that’s the only words society could take in, so they tried to be understood. But yes I think queer, non white people and men should be included. Ofcourse they should be. Because you can’t make change if you exclude some people.

    And if you don’t belive that queer and non white people I don’t really agree with you. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *