You are such an f-word!

February 11, 2009 § 7 Comments

I consider myself a feminist because I believe that women should be given equal opportunities, not because of how active of a feminist I am, or how much I do or don’t do for the feminist cause.  Although I do promote this, and think well of people who devote themselves to this, I don’t believe it is the only thing that grants someone the worthy title of a feminist. If I have never been to a pro-choice rally or written for a feminist magazine, can I still be a feminist?  OF COURSE YOU CAN.  The notion that you have to earn this title only creates conflict within the feminist movement.  Not only do people fear the f-word, they also fear that they are not doing enough to receive the (fantastic) label of a feminist.

I think that some people do use this as an excuse for not calling themselves what they are.  A feminist is someone who believes, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who constantly acts on their beliefs.  If all the people who believe in feminism stood up and called themselves what they are, half the problems women face today would be solved instantly.  It is another excuse not to align themselves with the feminist cause, mostly out of fear.  But sometimes I fear that I do not deserve the title of feminist that so many great women before me have been given.  But then I realize that by simply being a strong person who is not willing to take any shit from anyone, I am already helping the cause.


I also think that there are a variety of ways to be involved in fighting the feminist cause.  Everyday women who fight stereotypes by pursuing science or engineering are being active feminists.  Busy parents who teach their sons and daughters to be respectful of women are feminists; teenagers who are willing to fight stereotypical depictions of women are feminists.  Anyone who believes in equality for women is a feminist, and there is no hierarchy to deciding who is granted this name.  This is an f-word that anyone and everyone can say, and I encourage everyone to use it.


§ 7 Responses to You are such an f-word!

  • gingerlady says:

    great point. protesting, blogging, petition-signing, etc. doesn’t automatically make you an ‘ist’ (although those are great ways to show your support). taking stock of YOUR daily life and mindset is just as important (maybe even more important) than making some big gesture because you demonstrate that the ideas you’re championing really make sense to you and empower you

  • Silvia says:

    I completely agree with you that a feminist is someone who believes in the equality of both sexes. I think that one of the biggest challenges that we have, especially our generation, is the fear of the word “feminist.” The taboo around the word is shocking to me, considering that feminism is defined in pretty much every dictionary as the belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. To echo Zoe’s point, making changes in your own life and being conscientious of your decisions is essential to the feminist movement, and in being a good person in general. However, I don’t think that if people just started calling themselves feminists “half the problems women face today would end instantly.” There is a lot of work to be done, but you’re completely right, standing up and calling yourself a feminist is a huge step and it is essential and important to making change. Thanks for addressing this issue and for having the courage to call yourself what you are. If only everyone else were this conscientious.

  • joelfrominwood says:

    Can men be feminists? Obviously this isn’t cut and dry and different people have different criteria. I guess I’m just thinking about the diversity of opinion within feminists, or people who believe in gender equality. I consider myself a feminist, but what does it mean when I’m talking about issues that don’t directly concern my rights, my representation, and my identity? Is there a difference between a woman feminist and a male ally (who may or may not be called by others a feminist)?

  • katiems says:

    I ABSOLUTELY think men can be feminists. Men are another section of people who often are feminists but they are not called this because they are not women. Gender equality does not apply only to women. Both men and women face gender discrimination and anyone who is against should be allowed to be a feminist.

  • mirandanyc says:

    Word up, Katie. Joel, some female feminists don’t like men to refer to themselves as feminists because they think women need their own movement and their own label. As such, some guys call themselves “pro-feminist” or “feminist allies.” Personally, though, I love the word feminist and want as many people as possible to get in on the fun.

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  • gingerlady says:

    Sexism, whose eradication is sought through the feminist movement, hurts men A LOT. Sexism is at work when men think that they have to be breadwinners in order to be valuable, or when they think that they have to be violent to be masculine. Feminism is undoubtedly aimed at alleviating sexism’s damages on the female community, but a big part of that is getting men to realize that they are better served (and can serve their female loved ones better) if they embrace feminism and gender equality.

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