Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Feminist Translations

Here's something I've learnt (and very quickly as well), admitting your a feminist can be a mixed bag, at times you'll have a great and positive experience where you meet people who are very like minded or curious about what you have to say, even if they don't totally agree they still want to hear your opinions and will truly consider them and, if your lucky, you get the chance to do this as well with what the person your debating with is saying.

Other times people's attitude towards you totally changes, it's as if you just admitted to bashing in puppies heads in with a mallet cause it makes you horny... okay, yes I exaggerate a little bit there, but I can state from experience that, without specifying any of my actual politics, I have had friends and co-workers instantly trying to, pretty aggressively, challenge my point of view... without really knowing what it is.

This change of attitude was triggered simply by me letting people know that I'm a feminist. Now, I'm not going to be getting into the reasons behind this particular phenomenon (I'm saving that for another day) I'd rather focus on one of ways this attitude manifests itself, namely, Instant Feminist Translations, this is where no matter how we word something or how diplomatic we are when talking to someone who doesn't share our view point some of the things that we say, write or otherwise express go through this type of transition and we are misquoted, have our words construed or are even totally mistranslated, leaving our real meaning left somewhere by the wayside.

Is it simple ignorance of people who refuse to see another point of view besides their own? Is it because they don't understand feminism in the 21st century or how it relates to them? Or is it that these people who twist the words of feminists are actually afraid of what we're saying because they feel it really makes a lot of sense but that means it forces them to look more critically at the world?

I really do not know, I personally think it can be a bit of all of those things, but as I said, the point of the post isn't to find the rhymes or reasons. I'm posting this as a way to write down and present to you some of the most commonly mistranslated feminist quotes I've come across and, hopefully, give either a helpful rebuttal to anyone who tries to use these on you and attempts to put words in your mouth so you can actually get your point across or even give a small education to someone who would normally use these kinds of presumptuous and occasionally accusing translations.

These following four are the main ones I thought of from personal experience.


Statement: The rape conviction rate is terrible. It's somewhere between 5-6%.

What it really means: The rape conviction rate is so low that it couldn't possibly be providing the victims with proper justice.

Translation: All men are rapists!

Statement: I'm Pro-Choice.

What it really means: I feel a woman should have complete authority over all parts of her body, including the uterus.

Translation: I hate babies, kill them all.

Statement: I am a feminist and I am a lesbian.

What it really means: These are two aspects of my life and personality and I am very comfortable talking about them.

Translation: I hate men just that much...

Statement: There are not enough women in politics.

What it really means: Because of the 'Glass Ceiling' that has been internalized by our society and accepted for so many generations women find it harder to go further in male dominated sectors.

Translation: Women should rule the world!!!


Well, there you are, my four main 'Instant Feminist Translations', I've seen them used in ignorance, used to silence someone or even used as a rather ill thought out zinger to bring a feminist down a peg or two. But even if all you got from this post was entertainment at least we can take these sorts of attitudes, hold them up to a Patriarchal society and go, 'We're on to you, love!' (cause it can't just be me who does that... right?).

If you can think of any of your own Feminist Translations please use the comments section cause I would really love to hear them.


  1. Statement: I pay for myself.

    What it really means: Too many guys think it's their job to pay and too many of those guys think it's my job to pay them back by being their adoring girlfriend. That's effed up. Please don't make me explain this stuff and just let me buy my own damn burger!

    Translation: I'm being polite, but really just continue try to pay for everything.

    Statement: I'm read this great essay by Gloria Steinem...

    What it really means: Exactly that.

    Translation: Ignore everything that comes after this sentence.

  2. I share the writer's feelings about how people react negatively(or respond positively) to Feminist beliefs. I don't even have to say what I believe; certain people know all about it (so they think!) and become armed to push me out of a job. They make no effort to hear what I have to say or what I really think. They are perfectly content to believe the worst, act on it, and feel righteous no matter how much they hurt me. In fact, because I am not an activist, I seldom encounter people who are open to the word "Feminist" and who do not "hate all that peace and love crap."