Why I am a Feminist – Rosa Rubicondior

The reason I am a feminist is really quite simple: I am a feminist because I am a Humanist and a socialist. I am a Humanist and a Socialist because I am a human being and I have a single guiding principle which, like a coin, has two sides:

  1. I am better than no one.
  2. No one is better than me.

No one is endowed with the right to assign status on another at birth. No one has the right to restrict the right of another to make their own choices and to take their own decisions in life. If anyone claims for themselves that right, then, with equal ease, I claim the right to remove it from them.

In the words of John Donne (slightly modified)

No person is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each person’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

To me, Women’s liberation was always a part of people’s liberation and liberation is about freedom to choose. Socialism can never be achieved whilst half the population remain subjugated, restricted, repressed and dependent on the other half.

How pathetic, how utterly shameful for one half of humanity to try to maintain their privileges with bans and proscriptions on the other half. How pathetic for men to use their physical strength, not to liberate women but to maintain their subjugation.

To me, feminism is not about what women should do but about what they have the right to choose to do. If they choose to be miners or lumberjacks, doctors or architects, lawyers, barristers, engineers, emptiers of rubbish bins, fire-fighters or soldiers, they should be free to make that choice. If they chose to be full-time mothers they should be free to make that choice too but they should also be free to expect their partners to take on that role if that’s the right choice for them both.

People liberation cannot be achieved by assigning stereotypical roles and expecting people to fit themselves into those stereotypes. People liberation is about choosing the role you want for yourself in consultation as an equal with others involved in and affected by that choice.

It would be easy to blame religions for the institutionalised misogyny women have suffered for centuries. Though they are undoubtedly now complicit in it’s retention in many parts of the world, and especially in the more fundamentalist area where women are required to cover themselves or take the blame for men seeing them as mere sex objects, and even for ‘loosing control’ and raping or sexually assaulting them (what a grotesquely pathetic abdication of personal responsibility that is!), I’m not convinced religions cause misogyny. I think religions are, at least partly, the product of misogyny. It is surely no coincidence that gods are overwhelmingly seen as male and that the Abrahamic religions have a god which closely resembles a despotic Bronze Age tribal chief.

When the origin myths were being invented and written down, and the early laws were being codified, the people who wrote them were almost certainly high-caste males from already misogynistic cultures and women had already been relegated to chattel status. Even the creation myth of Adam and Eve results in Eve being told her role, and that of all women henceforth, was to satisfy the desires of man with “… and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16).

Of course a misogynistic male god would put men in charge with the right to rule over women and to have them merely for his convenience. What could be more natural and ‘right’ than that? In the blog The Evolution Of God I have shown how I think religions could well have evolved out of the pre-human or proto-human social structure with an alpha male leader. It could have been from this evolved dominance and the assumed right to have first access to the females and to control their sexual activity, that both male dominance and an obsessive interest in the sexual activity of others may have developed and entered the human meme-pool. Having invented gods and religion we then handed over responsibility for our moral development to the high priests of these gods, as I argued in Religion: An Abdication Of Moral Responsibility.

But, however it evolved, there is no excuse for it now. We are a very different species to that evolving millions of years ago on the plains of East Africa and we have a very different culture now to that of Bronze Age nomadic goat-herders. We have no use for many of the memes they generated or many of the rules they codified.

It used to be said of Britain that 17% of the people controlled 94% of the wealth. We have a long way still to go to rectify that obscene statistic. The women of the world are said to do 90% of the work but to control only 10% of the wealth. That is an even more obscene statistic which no civilised society or fair-minded person should tolerate.

We are free now, to paraphrase Richard Dawkin’s, to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of unthinking replicators in our meme pool. We no longer need to check with sanctimonious moralising high priests and wizards in silly dresses whose living depends on maintaining the status quo and who consult their books of magic words and miraculously come up with the answer which always suits them and those they serve.

We are free now to ask if it is right or wrong that half of humanity should still be a lesser people; a subject people subject to the whim and fancy of the other half and to always be at their disposal. And women are free now to decide whether they will continue to accept this abrogation of power and authority or whether they will deny men this right and take their own lives back under their own control and assert the simple slogan:

“No man is better than me because I am part of humanity. Until I am free, humanity will not be.”


  1. dylanringwood says

    Hi Taslima

    “Socialism can never be achieved whilst half the population remain subjugated, restricted, repressed and dependent on the other half.”

    So true. I consider myself to be a socialist but I’m not sure I agree that women are “subjugated, restricted, repressed, and dependant on the other half.”

    In the industrialised western democracies this seems to me to be an overly dramatic characterisation of the status of women. Perhaps there are still some gender specific injustices that do need fixing… but without socialism those problems cannot be solved.

    Anyway… I am genuinely curious about how you see our modern capitalist democracies oppressing, subjugating, repressing, and restricting the rights of women.


  2. F says

    I have a tendency to skip over “Why I Am x” posts.

    I’m glad I chose to read this one. It is powerful and true. I thank both Rosa and Taslima for posting it here.

  3. ellenabbott says

    I’ve often wondered how much more advanced we would be if, as a species, we hadn’t refused to use half the brain power available to us.

    I agree completely with Rosa’s post here but I have to point out that the very first ad on this page, positioned above the text, features four pictures of women with obviously fake unnaturally huge boobs who are soliciting sex. Really Taslima? Sort of puts the whole kabosh on the essay. I understand why people allow ads on their blogs but surely you can have some say over which ads. It would be nice if you would not allow ads that promote the very stereotypes and sexual subjugation you spend so much time fighting against. And then there are the ads that target women to encourage them to be obsessed about their looks (stay looking young!) and weight (miracle diet!). More stereotypes all intended to make you look desirable for men. I have no problem with a woman wanting to look good but these ads belittle the natural women and in a way are another method of the subjugation of women. Don’t worry your little head about business or politics or science, you just worry about how attractive you are.

  4. ellenabbott says

    OK, I see that the banner ad on top changes every time you visit and the diet ads were a pop up on the side, which I closed, but still, they did show up for me.

    • gordon Penny says

      Hi Taslima,

      Great writing as usual by yourself. Thank god there are strong women like you around. It makes my day to read your thoughts as expressed in your writing. I also hope that you find inner peace and happiness after the hell you have been put through in your turbulent life.

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