I am a feminist. (With a necessary disclaimer)

Jezebel collected statements from several famous (and influential and therefore powerful, and yes, many are influential simply because they’re famous. We could sit down and ponder on the curious progression from fame -> influence -> power in this Social Media age. Think Kim Whatshername. The fact you know who I am referring to without her last name is proof itself…) women declaring that they are in fact NOT a feminist, and why not, in this post “The Many Misguided Reasons Famous Ladies Say ‘I’m Not a Feminist'”

It’s enough to make Gloria Steinem turn in her … Oh, never mind. I am glad that she’s still around and actually active on Social Media, even providing the last word to end meaningless controversies surrounding Miley Cyrus.  

My gut reactions aside, I am torn. I can see why these women are wary of being associated with the label “feminist” for which there is a profusion of entrenched negative connotations: man-hating, belligerent, combative, complain-y, chip on the shoulder, even militant. Marissa Mayer’s statement said it all:

I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don’t, I think have, sort of, the militant drive and the sort of, the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word.

 

What we need is not less feminism, but more. Instead of disavowing feminism because a long-standing smear campaign has been waged against it, more of us should claim it, changing the negative connotations so prevalent in pop culture and mainstream consciousness.

I fell head over heels in love with Caitlin Moran when I read this passage in her How to be a Woman and laughed out loud with my fist pumping [only one fist because the other one was holding my Kindle. In case you wonder…]:

We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY? ― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

We need more Caitlin Morans amongst us.

We need more feminism even though right now we need to claim the label for ourselves with a caveat,

I am a feminist if by being a feminist you mean someone who believes in equal rights for women.

 

Quite often feminism is explained by what it is not, and the litany often begins with this disclaimer:

Yes, I am a feminist. No, I don’t hate men.

So here we are, having to first appease men, to prove that nothing reverse-sexist is going on here, while speaking out against inequality. Although it is factually correct – feminist <> men hating, am I the only one who finds this ironic?

We need more feminism exactly because most of us need the caveat in order to feel comfortable identifying ourselves as feminists. We need to somehow “temper” feminism so we could function and interact with the others peacefully in the society by providing a more socially acceptable, less threatening definition for the label.

We need more feminism because, well, we are still renouncing it for fear that we may appear aggressive, demanding and complain-y. In short, a bitch.

Just ask ourselves, “What do we call a man who asks for his fair share, who asks to be treated with courtesy, who asks to be dealt as he deserves, who stands up for himself?”

A real man.

Exactly.

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Article by Absence Alternatives

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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Naptimewriting November 4, 2013, 2:15 am

    We need more feminism for all these reasons, yes.
    We need more feminism because there is a specific profane word for a woman who threatens the status quo. This isn’t just about why people assume feminist means bitch. It’s about the fact that we don’t use the words asshole or jerk to describe feminists who are jerks or assholes. We call women a bitch when they act in any way beyond the borders culturally determined as seemly. Not for men, mind you. Just for women. The fact that the word bitch exists is why we need feminism.
    Long-standing smear campaign, indeed. I want to use the word feminism with kind feminists, mean feminists, smart feminists, dumb feminists, unruly feminists, demure feminists, activist feminists, embarrassed feminists, quiet feminists, loud feminists, shy feminists, and brazen feminists.
    I’m raising my boys to be feminists. Because feminist to me means believing women should be afforded the same rights, privileges, boundaries, expectations, rules, chances, costs, and penalties as men. I can’t imagine raising children to believe anything else.
    Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Halloween aftermath

  • Kathy November 5, 2013, 10:38 am

    Great post, Lin! We DO need more feminism. And it’s strange how infrequently I even think to use that term these days. Wonder what’s wrong with me. And you’re right–naptimewriting has some powerful things to say!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Absence Alternatives November 5, 2013, 3:42 pm

      Hi Kathy! How’s it going?! You sure will be glad being in Ecuador now that it’s getting colder up north. :-) I am definitely not suggesting that we all get up on people’s face and proclaim our identifying being a feminist. I don’t do that myself either. But when asked point blank? I am hoping that more women, esp. the young women, the teenage girls, will not bat an eyelash when they say, “Why, of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

  • Thomas Belnap November 7, 2013, 7:58 pm

    Great article. Honestly though, I’m not sure if any rational, socially respected individual would take a stance against humanist versions of feminism (pro-female equality). While I agree with your stance that one should be able to express their association to feminist ideology without disclaimer; I think that the disclaimer has become somewhat a necessity due to misguided understanding of feminism in its most accepted ideological form, liberal feminism. A woman stating that they are a feminist but not a man hater distances them from second wave or radical feminism which, in the most extreme form, views the male sex as holding some intrinsic flaw. I believe that women who specify their feminist beliefs such as Mayer, is better than a simple yes or no answer. It publicizes feminism as positive, serves to educate persons who might have thought feminism entailed man-hating, and thereby helps to redefine a socially mis-branded ideology.

  • magpie November 19, 2013, 12:59 pm

    uabashed and cranky feminist, reporting in.

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