IS FEMINIST A DIRTY WORD?

Being in the early days of what I like to call, “my solo career” (feeling like a Beyoncé, who just left the amazing Destiny’s Child to be even more incredible on her own, makes it easier to cope with those days when I catch myself at my desk, throwing jokes at myself) I wanted to change up the design of this site a bit, with a few words in the header describing myself. I thought about “feminist” but a part of me was nervous to blatantly brand myself so. I guess this question has been in the back of my mind for a little while now. And as much as I’d prefer not to admit it now, I think it was because, I didn’t know where I myself stood.

How many women have you heard starting a statement by saying, “I’m not a feminist but”, and you know that whenever someone begins a sentence with “I’m not X but”, then they probably are. And I used to be one of them, “I am not feminist but..(insert feminist argument)”, I remember the day one of my best friends had just had enough and barked; well you are a feminist, so cut the crap now. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a come back, but I was speechless, I could think of no no arguments to come to my defence. I think I felt the truth of what she was saying and it was as if I had just realised that I had weakly succumbed to feminism.

So is feminist a dirty word?

My initial idea of a feminist was

a) a woman,
b) the angry kind and
c) probably frustrated in several areas of her life.

The latter in such a strong way that it would lead her to shout and rip the balls from men whilst topless on Trafalgar Square’s 4th plinth. I am tempted to throw rocks at my face for thinking like this now, but I know I wasn’t the only one and actually, it totally made sense for me and others to feel like this. As if a movement/ideology (sadly quoting Wikipedia here) whose name sounds so single gender centric, and said gender being female, could easily spark credibility. Looking at its definition on Wikipedia, I understand the confusion even more:

Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.
Wikipedia

At no point does it mention “gender” or “men”, something that would at least clarify that it’s not a movement for women by women, but for both genders by both genders. It doesn’t seem to include men in the conversation. And you know the topics of conversations men aren’t invited to are: silly girly stuff. It mentions equality for women but no baseline for said equality, how does that make sense? And the rest doesn’t make the topic any more likeable, “define and establish”, establish sounds so forceful and angry, while define, aligned with the rest of the sentence and the sole use of women as gender, sounds like women are going to come and define their concept of equality and achieve its establishment in the world, whether you like it or not. When all in all, what it is, is that whatever rights men have, women should have them too.

The fact that we’re dealing with an “ist” here doesn’t help either. Communist, Marxists, it all makes it sound a bit like a movement you have to give all your heart to, more a way of life, and it can come across as too much for someone concerned with sounding too radical. I know I used to feel like this.

Feminism has terrible PR. I have this contact on Facebook, who posted a status on International Women’s Day, saying that she wasn’t a feminist, explaining that she didn’t want to be like a man, but she still wanted her true worth to be respected. How quickly do we jump at excuses before we have even started to talk?
Probably because there’s this almost constant and automatic dismissal of any statement aimed at empowering women. As if power could only be taken, stolen, and not shared. And if that women want more power, it can only mean that they’re after men and want to be like them. Or above them – you hear everything these days.

He should probably feel prouder of me saying this, but I suspect he will be annoyed, the boy is an amazing feminist. He honestly doesn’t understand why there should be a difference in our rights and access to success. But how can we have more men claiming that they are feminists too, if even us women look at it as a movement for angry, sexually unsatisfied loonies? It’s now almost used as an insult.

And yes, yes, yes you have some angry feminists. Like with any movement/ideology/doctrine, you will always have a bunch of people who get carried away and take things a little too much to heart (soz, no boob flash) but we’re too smart to be pigeonholing, aren’t we?

If feminist is a dirty word, expect me to rock a very, very foul mouth. Feminism is also my way to exist as Freddie, transcending the social constructs that you try to lock me in with, the second you notice I’m female. It allows me to free myself from the expectations you have of me, the expectations that you solely base around my gender rather than around the person this oestrogen-fuelled body hosts.

Nigel Marsh once said “We are responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries we want in our life.” So boobs and penises set aside, I, and only I, shall set and enforce my boundaries, not my gender.

What about you? Do you also feel like it’s a dirty word? Or are you down with the F word?

By Freddie

Paris-born, London-based All smiles sass bag, personal stylist, confidence consultant & Top UK fashion blogger. I help women claim their confidence and power back through workshops and videos. Frankie's not my name.

Comments (6)
  1. Christelle June 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Bright article Freddie ! I mean sometimes I am wary of all these young ladies around me that claim that if you are a feminist then you must be either mad or angry
    But I think the real problem is the word in itself, personally I don’t like to be classified I prefer to act and then if you feel like calling me a feminist I don’t mind !

    • Frankie July 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I totally see what you mean! And I used to think the same, why do we need the labelling? I added it on the blog because I want to write more about it, and want people who might be interested to know that. But if it wasn’t for this platform, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist either. It should be a term involving both genders, humanist for example ahaha

  2. Sara June 30, 2015 at 1:33 am

    You’ve probably seen this but I’d definitely recommend this Ted Talk on feminism by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc
    To me Feminism is that men and woman should be treated equally, with the same rights and opportunities, love and respect. Men need feminism as much as woman do, because men are just as stereotyped and boxed in by a patriarchal society as woman are.

    • Frankie July 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      I LOVE Chimamanda!!! And I agree with you, we all need feminism! We also all need to be able to exist outside of our genders, they should not define or limit us. Oh well, it’s a long road ahah!

  3. Stefanie January 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I am really glad I found your website. Been following you on Instagram and your happiness inspires me. This article really spoke to me. I do tend to say ‘I am not a feminist but…’. I was called a feminist by a friend last year because I said I believed that men should not expect their wives to cook all the time after a days work (Especially when the man has been home the whole day doing nothing -Like seriously). I just want to be able to express myself, decide for myself and not have society put me in a gender box. I guess if they choose to call me a feminist, they can continue lol

  4. SEBOLELO July 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I realise that this is a very old post but I really understand. I chose to brand myself as the fashionable feminist because I didnt want people thinking I was trying to be a man. Its so annoying how feminism is made out to be a movement promoting the hatred of men. so annoying

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