Allison‘s report on NOW’s celebration of its 40th anniversary included the text of this card, designed for handing out when someone you know says something politically incorrect (see “Watch Out, or You Just Might Get the Card,” Aug. 1):
I am a feminist.
I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that sexist/misogynist remark. In the past, I have attempted to alert others to my feminist/activist identity in advance. Unfortunately, this invariably causes them to react to me as pushy, manipulative, socially inappropriate, or humorless. Therefore, my policy is to assume that you do not typically make these remarks, even when you believe there are no feminists present, and to distribute this card when you do.
I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your sexism is causing me.
My reaction if anyone tried to hand me one of those cards would be: “Je ne regrette rien!”
But that’s just me. Reader J.P. sees the cards differently:
“At first I thought… what? I can’t object to sexist or tasteless remarks if I’m not a self-identified feminist?
“But overall I think the card is a wonderful idea because announcing ones feminist status to people, ‘invariably causes them to react to me as pushy, manipulative, socially inappropriate, or humorless.’ Why? Because it involves assuming, ahead of time, that all men present are guilty. ‘Therefore, my policy is to assume that you do not typically make these remarks, even when you believe there are no feminists present, and to distribute this card when you do.’
“A presumption of innocence… from what I can tell that is a HUGE step up for the feminist movement.”
Well, that’s one way to look at it. But another might be to ask: Why is it so important for feminists to turn every offhand remark into an occasion for a finger-wagging lecture about sexism and misogyny? And, while the author of The Card may not presume that the speaker/laugher has committed an anti-feminist crime, she makes it clear that in her view, such a crime occurred. And that strikes me as pretty darned presumptuous.