Feminism Should Be Lived, Not Preached

A woman wears a feminist pin on her jean jacket.
A woman wears a feminist pin on her jean jacket.


BOGOTÁ — Feminism is an acidic drink, strong, seething and so concentrated that it should be sipped at a pace suitable for each person's palate.

There is no key or magic recipe that makes you a feminist and nobody has the absolute truth on how to most effectively pursue the cause.

What is certain, though, is that we are no religious order; that women have a right to not be feminists — a right given them by feminism — the glorious right to decide on all aspects of their lives without hurting anyone and without being punished for it. Every woman, feminist or not, faces a daily struggle against a system that hates and deceives her — a system that often makes her feel that it is feminism, not the system, that is wrong.

Instead of shaming anti-feminists for disagreeing with us, we have an opportunity to inform them, share knowledge and clarify misunderstandings

Initially, when I began my activism, I joined a diverse group of women blogging and tweeting about things they thought were unfair, while stressing that they were not feminists. I identified with these "non-feminists," who nonetheless fought against any attempts to deprive women of their rights, cut their wages or diminish their conditions. There are celebrities, like Shailene Woodley who starred in The Divergent Series and The Fault in Our Stars, who have disparaged feminism in the media.

Of course it is perfectly all right for someone not to identify as a feminist. It's a personal choice and it's wrong to criticize a woman for making it.

In my case, feminism is something I discovered in myself. And I understand today that most anti-feminist women believe in the stereotypes imposed upon the movement. They lack the background and historical context and are, themselves, informed by clichés.

For the comedian Sam Killermann, feminism is the exercise of forging a society where the gender of individuals does not restrict them from having equal opportunities to be happy and successful. People often confuse feminism with misandry, or hatred of men. There are of course misandrists who also identify with feminism, but they are a minority.

How can we reach people who have been brainwashed by patriarchy and society?

Bear in mind that most anti-feminists do not really know what feminism is. This should not discourage us; It is actually a positive thing. Instead of shaming anti-feminists for disagreeing with us, we have an opportunity to inform them, share knowledge and clarify misunderstandings.

Time magazine once quoted Woodley, the actress, as saying that "the idea of "raise women to power; take the men away from power," is never going to work out, because you need balance."

The feminist movement has never acted as a mechanism to strip men of power. This is simply incorrect. Feminism aims to divide power equitably, which is absolutely fair. Enjoying the company of men, having male friends or loving a man does not make you more, or less, feminist.

Being heterosexual or not is irrelevant to feminism. The idea that feminism is connected to lesbianism is a macho invention.

Some women like to say, ironically, that feminism is their excuse to act like drunken whores and cheat on their boyfriends. This clearly offends feminists, and we might be tempted to reply, "Listen stupid, it's about whether or not you can decide if you want to be monogamous, or have someone touch you ... about whether your decisions count, or whether the system allows you to be raped or murdered."

Of course we are sometimes tempted to say this and, in the past, I have. But time has taught me that this only turns women off and does not help raise their consciousness to the issue.

The writer Melissa A. Fabello says in an article titled "The Pain of Being Feminist in an Anti-Feminist World" that sometimes the best option is just to walk away.

Difficult as it may be to grasp, there are perfectly educated, intelligent people who understand exactly what feminism is about and still disagree; and regardless of what we say, will never change their minds. This is why sometimes the only thing to do, for the sake one's own mental wellbeing, is to walk away. Feminists do not have superpowers to overcome narrow minds. All we can do is keep working to achieve what's fair.

Feminism is an intimate encounter with our own bonds, a mirror that shows us our own reflection every day

Feminism is not a religion. Some women treat feminist books as sacred scriptures and try to impose norms of "true feminism" on others, but it doesn't work that way.

Feminism is an intimate encounter with our own bonds, a mirror that shows us our own reflection every day. It is a dynamic that allows us to see our own daily progression in other women, and other women to see theirs in us. I agree with the American blogger Tavi Gevinson who said that "one thing that can be very alienating about a misconception of feminism is that girls then think that to be feminists they have to live up to being perfectly consistent in their beliefs, never being insecure, never having doubts, having all the answers ... and this is not true and actually recognizing all the contradictions I was feeling became easier once I realized that feminism was not a rulebook but a discussion, a conversation, a process."

The early 20th century anarchist Emma Goldman said that women's "true emancipation began neither at the polls nor in the courts. It begins in woman's soul." This means we need an ongoing conversation with all the women that inhabit us, each of whom is a part of us, but also with those other women who are not feminists, or are feminists "in their own way," as that, too, is a way of freeing our soul.

For some women, feminism has become a sect-like experience, not intellectual, rational, humane or intimate. But before even speaking about feminism, each one of us should live it.

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Erdogan And Boris Johnson: A New Global Power Duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too.

Johnson and Erdogan in NYC on Sept. 20

Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung


BERLIN — According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. The agreement covers billions of euros' worth of military equipment, and the two countries have committed to come to each other's aid if they are attacked.

Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey.

Officially, the Turkish government is unruffled, saying the pact doesn't represent a military threat. But the symbolism is clear: with the U.S., UK and Australia recently announcing the Aukus security pact, Ankara fears the EU may be closing ranks when it comes to all military issues.

What will Aukus mean for NATO?

Turkey has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

Europe's approach to security and defense is changing dramatically. Over the past few months, while the U.S. was negotiating the Aukus pact with Britain and Australia behind the EU's back, a submarine deal between Australia and France, which would have been worth billions, was scrapped.

The EU is happy to keep Erdogan waiting

Officially, Turkey is keeping its cards close to its chest. Addressing foreign journalists in Istanbul, Erdogan's chief advisor Ibrahim Kalin said the country was not involved in Aukus, but they hope it doesn't have a negative impact on NATO. However, the agreement will have a significant effect on Turkey.

"Before Aukus, the Turks thought that the U.S. would prevent the EU from adopting a defense policy that was independent of NATO," says Sinan Ülgen, an expert on Turkey at the Brussels think tank Carnegie Europe. "Now they are afraid that Washington may make concessions for France, which could change things."

Macron sees post-Merkel power vacuum

Turkey's concerns may well prove to be justified. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey, partly because it is an important trading partner and partly because it has a direct influence on the influx of migrants from Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Merkel consistently thwarted France's plans for a stricter approach from Brussels towards Turkey, and she never supported Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU.

But now she that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

Ankara fears the defense pact between France and Greece could be a sign of what is to come. According to a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the agreement is aimed "at NATO member Turkey" and is damaging to the alliance. Observers also assume the agreement means that France is supporting Greece's claims to certain territories in the Mediterranean which remain disputed under international law, with Turkey's own sovereignty claims.

Paris is a close ally of Athens. In the summer of 2020, Greece and Turkey were poised on the threshold of a military conflict in the eastern Mediterranean. Since then, Athens has ordered 24 Rafale fighter jets from France, and the new pact includes a deal for France to supply them with three frigates.

Photo of French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on September 27 in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on September 27 in Paris

Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium Agency/ZUMA

Erdogan’s EU wish list

It's not the first time that Ankara has felt snubbed by the EU. Since Donald Trump left the White House, Turkey has been making a considerable effort to improve relations with Brussels. "The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is peaceful and the migrant problem is under control," says Kalin. Now it is "high time" that Europe does something for Turkey.

Erdogan's wish list is extensive: making it easier for Turks to get EU visas, renegotiating the refugee deal, making more funds available to Turkey as it continues the process of joining the EU, and moderniszing the customs union. But there is no movement on any of these issues in Brussels. They're happy to keep Erdogan waiting.

Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU

Now he is starting to look elsewhere. At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense.

 Turkey's second largest export market

The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016. Unlike other European capitals, London reacted quickly, calling the coup an "attack on Turkish democracy," and its government has generally held back in its criticism of Turkey.

At the end of last year, Johnson and Erdogan signed a new free trade agreement, which will govern commerce between the two countries post-Brexit. Erdogan has called it "the most important treaty for Turkey since the customs agreement with the EU in 1995."

After Germany, Britain is Turkey's second largest export market. "Turkey now has the opportunity to build a new partnership with the United Kingdom and it must make the most of it," says economist Ali Kücükcolak from the Istanbul Commerce University.

Erdogan is well aware of this, as Turkey is in desperate need of an economic boost. Inflation currently stands at 19%, and the currency's value is consistently falling. Turks are feeling the impact on their daily lives: food and rent are becoming increasingly expensive, while salaries remain unchanged.

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