I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the newly emerging F-word. No, not the one that masquerades as noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. It’s the more complicated one.
As in, “Are you a feminist?”
I wrote about this phenomenon for my submission to the Feminine Inquiry Spring Contest (see my post about that here), especially in regards to celebrities being asked if they were a feminist, and the predictable fallout that occurred in response. Even women who you would assume were unflappable (here’s looking at you, Beyonce) expressed misgivings about being attached with the word.
It makes me question why and how such an empowering movement could shift so far from its initial form? Was it a natural evolution? Or was it a manipulated mutation to discredit the original message? My scholarly training in this field is limited to say the least, so I can only offer my insights as a laywoman living her life in the United States.
And my insights tell me that, to poorly quote Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state that is Westernized.
Why else would it still even be a relevant question to ask successful young women whether they consider themselves feminists? And then, if they say they are or they are not, why are their answers headline-making material?
50 years after the full push of the women’s movement (although arguably it was started well before then), how is it that we have reached a point where women living public lives are afraid to state they are feminists? And why are men in the public sphere equally disinclined to attached themselves with the word?
I feel it is likely due, to go back to my original point, to a mutation that has occurred in the co-opting of this word. Just to clarify, let’s start with what being a feminist DOES NOT mean.
Being a Feminist DOES NOT MEAN:
- You hate men.
- You don’t and shouldn’t care about aspects deemed traditionally feminine (e.g., child care, physical beauty, fashion, sewing, household management).
- You can tell other women how to live their lives.
- You are a lesbian.
- You hate sex (with or without men).
- You think men are your oppressors (just to expand on #1).
- You are female.
What does being a Feminist mean?
It means you believe in the equality of the sexes in all matters economic, political, and social.
Now, seriously–how did the latter become conflated with the former?
More importantly, how do we stop it?
We must say it loudly and with conviction.
We should, all of us, be Feminists. And we should be proud.
I am a Feminist, and you can be too.