“Feminist” is Not a Dirty Word

Sit back, relax, silence your cell phones, and get ready for quite the ride.

This year, many awesome things happened for women; equality for the genders is moving in the right direction. However, there is one thing that has become of increasing concern to me:

People are saying that they are not feminists.

I have to admit that I know many people who claim that they are not feminists. They say that they’re not man-hating, that they don’t think all men should die, that men and women need to work together. Well, news flash: That’s what the term “feminism” means.

Time Magazine released a poll with terms they argued should be banned from the English language. Included on the list were such terms as “bae,” “literally,” “sorrynotsorry,” and “feminist.” They released an apology about having the term “feminist” on their list, explaining that “we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year” which is totally valid — they defined the term as “You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party?” which, once again, is totally valid. However, having this in a list of terms that should be banned is not the right way to go about trying to have a debate.

Recently, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting of The Big Bang Theory said that she does not identify as a feminist. She claimed, “I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.” This is insane. I’m curious as to whether her salary is up to par with her male cast mates. For example, the Sony hack revealed that in the film “American Hustle,” Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Women are still getting the short end of the stick, especially in the media. Feminism doesn’t necessarily mean that you go out and rally the troops for your cause: it’s simply a term to use instead of saying, “I want everyone to be treated equally.”  If you say that you feel as though you have never faced inequality, I’m incredibly impressed. Being a woman and into geeky things, I experience it all the time. Just because you may not have felt inequality in your life does not mean that it’s not an issue for many other people out there.

Now, I can understand the sentiment: the term “feminist” has been attached to the man-hating groups of women. But this is just yet another generalization based on a few extremists.

I asked some of our writers how they define the term:

Kayla: “Fighting for gender equality within all realms.”

Deanna: “The idea that women are equal to men.”

Lizzie: “Genders should have not simply equality, but equity.”

Meg: “The revolutionary idea that women are people.”

Melissa: “Women are equal in every aspect.”

Julia: “One who stands up to the societal oppression of women.”

Meredith: “Ideally, a movement towards liberation from gendered, racial, and economic violence, including the dismantling of oppressive social structures/institutions (e.g. capitalism, prisons, and the military)”

Bri: “A feminist is one who believes in the social and economic equality between males and females and acknowledges we, as a society, have ignored that cultural fact for far too long.”

Kim: “One who advocates for political, social, and economic gender equality”

Megan: “One who believes in and stands up for equality and justice for all people, while remaining aware of the ways that intersectionality can make oppression look very different for different people.”

Carly: ” I really like a definition that Roxanne Gay refers to at the end of Bad Feminist from DIY Feminism by Kathy Bails: “just women who don’t want to be treated like shit.” Feminists are people who believe that there certain issues that affect women specifically, issues where women are treated or viewed as less than men, and that these issues should and must be addressed. And by extension, they also support and fight for other groups (races, sexualities, etc.) that are in similar situations.”

 

I am a feminist because I don’t think that anyone should be discriminated against for any reason. I want all people to have opportunities to flourish and to be a productive member of society. And I think that anyone who claims that they are not a feminist is ignorant of the term, scared to be associated with “man-haters,” or downright needs to sort out their priorities.

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3 thoughts on ““Feminist” is Not a Dirty Word

  1. Thanks for this great post. As a 60 year old feminist woman, it brought back dear memories of loving arguments with my mother. The running discussion began over 40 years ago and ended with her death 12 years ago. I suspect it will start back up when we meet again in heaven. She would say the word “feminist” in the same tone as she would speak of the devil and wag her finger at me in caution that no man wants “that type of woman.” My exasperated rebuttal was always the same “Mom, I am a woman… “ist” means that I have concern for this group. How can I not care about the rights of myself and others like me.”
    I know she meant well. Today it makes me sad to hear women say they are not a feminist. As you shared, I know it is because of the negative connotations spewed by the press in the 60s of bra burning bitches and the lack of coverage of women who just want to choose their life style. Thanks again for your words of wisdom.

  2. Awesome article. I love hearing your generation supporting feminism, because it seems many women fear looking to aggresive, but until we earn equal pay for equal jobs, we all need to continue to educate men and women.

  3. This is a well written post. I couldn’t agree more with being a feminist and feeling proud of it. It’s sad that feminism has negative connotations now. It shouldn’t. Our country has so far to go, and we don’t need women speaking out against their own gender’s equal rights. Feminism does not mean man-hating. It means that men and women should be treated equally.

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