Feminism needs a new marketing campaign…

March 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm (Uncategorized)

Several weeks ago I sat around with a group of friends and my husband, discussing feminism and this blog site.  We talked about the different kinds of feminism out there and how many people seem to immediately go to the most radical notion as the definition of feminism.  Why is that???  I consider radical feministic theory to be the basis of feminism, not what is now at the forefront or most common.  When feminists came on the scene, their behavior in some ways almost had to be radical…they were fighting for the most basic of human rights.  They struggled in ways that we cannot ever comprehend.  They had to be loud, fearless, angry, and yes, RADICAL.  How else does social justice ever come about?  Think of the abolitionist movement; the two are quite similar. Though I try to spread the word on the basic dictionary definition of feminism; (the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes) it seems that feminist is still very often considered to be a bad word.  Like every important issue or movement – it has many layers.

Despite the hardships women have endured for their freedoms, despite the 150 years of pushing to gain equal rights, despite the many ways in which you, dear reader, have endured unjust criticism and scrutiny and unfair treatment because of being a girl, so many are still afraid to utter the word, feminist. I sometimes think about our feminist fore-mothers and how shocked and disappointed they would be to hear that.  The pain and suffering they went through for others to simply feel free to claim that word.  Please know I am not attempting to shame anyone into feminism…just trying to open the lines of communication and help those who are ignorant (read: not stupid, just not knowledgable about this particular subject) about the ideas that concern this issue.

How can we change this?  How do you get rid of a stigma?  In all my years of activism, I’ve only encountered one woman I would consider to be a radical feminist.  And believe me, I’ve been around ALOT of feminists over the years!  😉  When I confront someone that is honest enough to admit that they don’t know if they are a feminist or not, I start asking questions:  Do you think men and women should be treated equally?  Do you believe that women should be able to hold property, vote, and receive proper education as a man does?  (You may think this question silly but in large parts of the world, this would be unheard of).

There’s a popular joke/phrase in the feminist world; someone will say, “I’m not a feminist but…” and then go on to make several very beautiful, powerful, feministic statements.  I even had one friend say, “I’m not a feminist, but I think women should have the exact same rights as men.”  I looked at her with astonishment and this beautiful, intelligent friend of mine said, “What?  AM I a feminist!??!”  The answer of course being a resounding, gong-clanging, head-slapping YES!!!! And just like that, another feminist was born.

I believe most confusion comes from the question of separation.  Meaning, many think they can’t be a feminist AND a stay-at-home Mother, or pro-life, or (dare I open these heavy, meaning-laden doors?) a Christian.  Being a feminist is all about having the right to choose what you see fit for your life.  Having the option to stay home or to work, for example.  It doesn’t mean you don’t want to get married, or have babies, or avoid church, it simply means that many amazing, strong women before you fought to have the right to choose these particular choices.  And because there is still so much to accomplish before men and women are truly equal, we must keep fighting and evoking change for our future daughters, nieces, granddaughters and so on.

I think it’s time to give this word a makeover.  Let’s stand together and teach others that the word feminist is just a lovely, fancy term for a woman that wants to be acknowledged as equal.


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