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:
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?
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?