Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Feminism Bad?

There was a Slut Walk in DC this past weekend.  I have an uncomfortable itch discussing the topic of a Slut Walk in the same post as feminism, but that itch is because I am quite sure that some people think the two have to go hand in hand.  A Slut Walk, if you don't know, is a rally or protest to eradicate harassment and that women are what they wear. That is it not OK to harass or assault a person based on the length of their skirt or the amount of cleavage they are displaying. 

That's not feminism. That is being a decent human being.  No one deserves to be raped, harassed or violated based on what they wear or how they look.  Trust me, I've been grabbed in the crotch before and I was wearing a sweater and a pair of black pants.  There was nothing about that outfit that said, "Go ahead! Feel my box up!  I would just adore that, please!"  Ugh.

So Feminism. Is it bad?  When I say this, I don't mean are equal rights bad, but is it considered bad to be a feminist in this day and age due to a misconception about what a feminist really is?  Do you consider yourself a feminist?  Before you go and start squirming and say things like, "I'm not a bitch!"  "I ain't no lesbian."  or "Feminist hate men! I like them!"  So do I and yet I am a card carrying feminist (if we had cards to carry.  Though an eye patch might be kind of rad.) I am raising a passel of like-minded feminist girls.  I was raised by two feminists and one of them is a dude.

When I hear young women declaring that they aren't feminists it makes me sad.  Have they been taught nothing about the Suffragist movement?  Do they even know who Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan are?  Have they never heard of the Guerrilla Girls? Often the answer to these questions is no.  I think, "Do you really value yourself so little that you think you are a second class citizen? That you are not equal to a man?"  That makes me angry and distraught that perhaps this isn't a part of history being taught to both sexes.  It's all history and a valuable lesson that should not lose its way or meaning. 

Being a feminist is the idea that men and women are deserving of the same rights.  We offer up a myriad of strengths and yes, weaknesses and that is OK.  We are not the same but we should be treated equally and have the same opportunities, benefits and pay. It's about having the same political, economic and social rights.  It's not about hating men and wanting to dominate every situation.  Though, if you do want to dominate every situation, that's cool.

As a feminist I don't believe that one person should receive a raise just because someone else on the job did who didn't perform as well. Be it two women, a woman and a man or two men. They didn't do the job equally as well so why pay that way? That's not what I am saying. Women do deserve to have the same pay as men, especially when starting out in a job. I can't tell you how many times I started a job at the same time as a guy and he got paid more or later his raise was higher despite a lackluster performance with the excuse, "He has a family to support." WOW. Didn't I just practically birth part of the family that I support right in my cubicle? Guess that doesn't count. But it does and should and if you think that same way, then you my dear, are a feminist.

And it's not a bad thing. It's really, really, good.

Being a feminist is not the same as being a liberal.  You don't have to be Vegan or a Vegetarian and wear hemp.  I like black nail polish, but not because I'm a feminist.  It makes me foaming at the mouth angry when women declare, quite proudly and staunchly, that they are not feminist (as if it is a bad tasting word that needs to be spit out of their mouth quickly) because they (a. believe in God b.) don't believe in abortion or c.) are conservative in political beliefs in general.  My response each time is always the same.  I bite my tongue, smile and point out that is all totally fine.  You don't have to be a liberal. You don't have to be Pro-Choice. You can believe in any religion you want.  I am a Christian, after all.  You just have to believe that we all deserve the same rights politically, socially, and economically. We are all human beings and should all be treated as such.  Respect.  It is what it is all about.

The beauty of being a feminist, in my mind, is that we respect each others choices.  What works for some, doesn't work for others and that is fine. It is what makes us different and lets the world evolve into such a unique space.  Just because a woman stays home with or without kids doesn't mean she isn't a feminist.  You can get married or not.  You can have kids or not.  You can work or not.  As a feminist you simply believe that it is your choice.  You have the right, just like a man, to make that choice.  To not be a second-class citizen.  To vote, own property and not be abused because someone wrongly thinks you are inferior.

I don't believe feminism is bad.  I believe that the media's warped, let's put everything into a box, idea of what a feminist looks and acts like is bad.  I believe many of us are not thinking for ourselves these days but just looking at stereotypes being fed to us and running with them. Our ideas are not fully formed and thought through entirely clearly.  We are not letting ourselves think through them for whatever reason because it is easier not to.  We like our fast food.  We like our ideas fed to us too.  Maybe some would consider me an old-school Suffragist.  But I consider myself a Feminist.

Do you? 

Oh look! There's a feminist now.


  1. I like and hear what you're saying. I think feminism, in an attempt to turn the heat down, has been given the wrong reputation. I think that feminists have been given the identity of radical, extreme women who defy all norms. In reality, most women I know are aware that there are some major differences between men and women, we just don't want someone else deciding what it is that we are capable of for us. Great post!

  2. Oh yes I do! And for all the reasons you give and more :)

  3. Anonymous1:29 AM

    Yes! Of course! It always stupefies me when women turn their noses up at the idea of being a feminist. They have been fed a line of bull that women who consider themselves feminists will be reviled by men, that they are somehow unfeminine or militant or butch (which is fine for those that embrace these adjectives) but certainly not the case for many feminist women. Rejecting the notion of equality is utterly baffling. What is stranger to me are the women who appear to embrace the ideologies of feminism (opinionated, ambitious, outspoken, educated) but at the same time espouse misogynistic viewpoints, a la Michelle Bachmann. I wish I could get behind a woman like this, even if her specific opinions differ from mine. I wish I could celebrate the fact that she is the first woman to ever win the Iowa straw poll. What a victory! Except, it isn't, it's a slap in the face. Because despite all her opinions and campaigning and outspokenness, she believes women should be submissive and subservient to their husbands. She reminds me of the very vocal very opinionated women who at the turn of the century fought in a very feminist way to achieve a very non-feminist goal - to defeat suffrage. Women like this baffle and sadden me. -E


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