The New F-Word

Feminism
Proof that maybe I’m doing something right. . .

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.

It’s Feminist.

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: 

  1. You hate men.
  2. You don’t and shouldn’t care about aspects deemed traditionally feminine (e.g., child care, physical beauty, fashion, sewing, household management).
  3. You can tell other women how to live their lives.
  4. You are a lesbian.
  5. You hate sex (with or without men).
  6. You think men are your oppressors (just to expand on #1).
  7. 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?

Easy.

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.

 

 

An Ode to the Good Doctor (Martens, that is)

 

Are you rethinking using "You old boot" as a criticism now?  Thought so.
Are you rethinking using “You old boot” as a criticism now? Thought so.

 

I bought my Doc Martens in the late 90’s during my senior year of high school. The only way I was able to afford them was through a unique alignment of the universe: 1) it was summertime, 2) they were 50% off, and 3) the cashier working in Pac Sun seemed under the impression that 50% off also meant additional reductions in cost through some arithmetic magic. I ended up getting the pair for less than $50, which was a steal for my waning Perkins’-plumped wallet (I was waitressing at the time to earn a little mad money and save for college).

I am now in my mid-30’s, many years out of the hormonal tides of adolescence.  Over the span of these years, I’ve gotten married, earned my doctorate, taken on a mortgage, and become a Mom to three children.  The one constant on this journey?

My Doc Martens.

They have withstood the bitter salt and ice-laden roads of the Northeastern US, the harsh sun of mid-summer, and umpteen encounters with grapple (If you don’t know this particular form of precipitation, I encourage you to search it out. You’ll never look out your window and say,  ‘I wish there was a word for these tiny ice balls’ again).

They have remained true, despite the every-changing tides of fashion. Round toes, spike heels, elvish toe curls. No trend has defeated their stylish flexibility.

I wore them to teach at my university this semester and received compliments from both colleagues and students.  One regularly well-styled student asked where I got them, and the inner awkward teen in me rejoiced.

Thank you, Doc Martens, for crafting a shoe that is both edgy and timeless.  I look forward to the next few decades that we have ahead of us. Together.