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Tuesday
Sep082009

I'm Not A Feminist Or Anything... Again

And, yes, I'm recycling a (very slightly modified) post from before anybody read my blog.  You got a problem with that?  I figure that people with real jobs (ha, ha) get six weeks maternity leave.  As of Wednesday, I will only be at week four, so expect a few more recycled posts.  This one is about feminism... as the title indicates.  I apologize for the length, but, I was not the succinct and polished blogger that I am today when I wrote the following post (ha ha, again).

**************



I was sitting in the ninth circle of hell yesterday, or what some people call a "training session."

Just as I was going to try to muster up my long forgotten high school talent of sleeping with my eyes open, our moderator, an unnaturally chipper young woman in her 20s, said, "So, we have such and such speaker coming next month who will be discussing the evolution of the feminist movement over the past few decades in this and that room."  Then she rolled her eyes and said, "I mean, I'm not a feminist or anything, but, if that's your thing, you should come."

After much deliberation I have decided that this young woman simply does not know what feminism really is and that is the only logical explanation why such a bright person would be so negative about feminism.

So, I asked around to find out how other people define feminists. Apparently, people think that feminists are almost always lesbians with an aversion to depilatory procedures who hate men and think the world would be a better place without them.

This is not only untrue, it is just stupid.  I know that's harsh, but facing up to our stupidity is perhaps the ugliest of all human burdens.

Believing that a feminist is always the above described person (who by the way is a perfectly acceptable sample of a human being) is as stupid as believing that one particular race of people are inferior due to the color of their skin or believing that Lindsay Lohan is never going to rehab again.

So, let's discuss the American feminist movement as painlessly and quickly as possible.  (Dear College Freshman, do not base your paper on modern feminism on this post, you will get a "C.")

Feminist movements of the 19th and 20th century centered upon suffrage, or the right to vote.

The feminist movements of the 60s centered upon social issues, such as women's right to equal access to education, equality in the workplace and reproductive choices (this includes but is not limited to the issue of abortion).  A few feminists in this era burned some bras, but the majority of them, contrary to popular belief, did not.

These days, feminism builds upon these past concepts, but also recognizes that Western women should not be dictating feminist agendas to the world's diverse populations (or even the diverse populations within their own countries.)

The Oxford American Dictionary defines feminism as "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men."  If you live in the United States of America, you really should not have a problem with that.

In fact, you should be for that.

If you live outside of the United States, well, according to most new generation feminists, also called "post feminists," we might not agree with how women are treated in your country, but we believe that they should be the ones who set the agenda for those changes, not us.  (This is a particularly complicated issue, so I'm not going to delve too deeply here.)

I find it ironic that many Americans will roll their eyes at the mention of feminism, but quickly jump on the "Saudi's need to let their women drive" bandwagon.  Interestingly, we decry feminism at home, but champion its cause as we attempt to denigrate cultures and value systems outside our own with the intent of, at least culturally, subjugating them.

Let me wrap this up by telling you what I believe American feminism is not.

American feminism is not an excuse to point out the flaws of men.  As a matter of fact, many men are feminists, too.  Not because they are afraid their "butch" wives are going to beat them up, but because they believe women are their social, political and economic equals.

Feminism is not a platform aimed at disintegrating motherhood, staying at home or family values.

Feminism is not the reason kids in our society seem to be from another planet (I personally believe this one can be attributed to Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton who are, in fact, from another planet).

When someone brings up the movement for racial equality in the United States, do you go out of your way to distance yourself from it?

Do you roll your eyes or get a stupid grin on your face like someone has just said something very funny?

No, you don't.

Unless of course your white hood and robe are drying on a gentle setting and you're running a few minutes late for your weekly cross burning.

So, why do Americans do this when the feminist movement is brought up?

I'll end with the following correspondence, which I have no intention of sending:
Dear Ms. 20-something,

American feminism has a long history, over 130 years in its making.

You don't have to be feminist if you don't want to, I don't mind if it's not your thing.
However, since you are a woman living in America, I respectfully ask that you appreciate what these women did for you and treat them with more respect by refraining from acting like they are crazy PETA members who throw red paint on celebrities wearing fur.


They gave you choices and opportunities that women in other parts of the world are literally dying to have.

They fought for your right to vote, your right to be educated in any field of your choosing, your right to work in any field of your choice, your right to make decisions regarding your reproductive system, your right to have legal recourse if someone says or does sexually inappropriate things to you in your workplace and many other rights that you now take for granted.

No, feminism may not be your thing, but, Ms. 20-something, feminism is your blessing.

P.S. Please stop calling other women your age "girls."  Girls play with Barbies and Little Ponies.  You are a woman, as are other women your age.

P.P.S. And stop saying "like" every two minutes.

P.P.P.S.  And don't bounce when you talk.  It's distracting.

Reader Comments (41)

Very nice post, even if it is a repeat. :) I agree, the women who fought for our rights are not given the recognition they so greatly deserve. Unless you take a class in it specifically, most of the school teachings is a chapter in the history book. Nowadays we take these rights for granted, but a reminder every-so-often is nice. Thanks!

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

OK. You made me do mental math becuase suddenly I was wondering how long ago Seneca was. Because yes, when I taught US history to 8th graders, we spent time discussing the Seneca conference and how some of the ideas that women presented there were unheard of then but are completely taken for granted now.

Thank you for republising this. Now I want to reread "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman."

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKailyn

Being old enough to remember a lot of the movement's more intense moments, I get discouraged when young women don't realiW that we STILL have wage inequities, and a general contempt for fields typically considered women's work. Sigh. I am old

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNanna

The irony of this story is that without the feminist movement (probably more owing to the social change of the 1960s than earlier), a relatively young woman in her 20s would not be training other employees in her workplace. She would either be at home raising a family or working in the support staff.

I debate this topic with my younger sister (women's studies prof) all the time, and would love to know your opinion: in this day and age, is affirmative action (as it relates to gender) still necessary in situations like university admissions for science programs? (I just remember how when I left high school some of the male students failed to get into a program while a female student with an average 10-15 points lower were admitted with a scholarship; that always struck me as unfair.)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSciFi Dad

I always say that I'm not really a feminist but maybe I will change that to "I'm not really a feminazi" because there really is such a huge difference. I believe in and stand for the equal rights of women and everything that goes with it. Hell, I even get a little annoyed when women completely objectify themselves. However, I don't believe in blaming the patriarch for every little thing that goes wrong in my feminine life.

Wait, what was my point? Oh yes, thank you for helping me to know the difference. :)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilly

I believe in equal rights all around. If that makes me a feminist, than so be it. I believe that EVERYONE, every colour, every person, should be treated with equal respect.

And I believe that you are AMAZING and every post you write blows me away with it's awesomeness. And yes, I believe awesomeness is a cool word and that you can start sentences with "And" even though the English speaking language and grammar police don't think so ;)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastica

@Hilly, I don't know you, and I don't mean to be rude, but I think it's really rude of you to call women who do reject Patriarchy "nazis." Patriarchy is a construct that is perpetrated by men and women equally, and it functions to subject women to lower levels of personhood than men. I want full equality for all people; I don't want their sex to be the de facto indicator of whether or not they are granted their natural rights. Patriarchy stands in the way of that. How is that "Nazi"? You may think this is semantics, but it's not at all. You're perpetuating patriarchy by denigrating men and women who reject patriarchy.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

@Nancy, No, you don't know me at all. If you did, you'd know that I won't argue the semantics of my beliefs on someone else's blog because I think it is rude.

That being said, I'm entitled to my opinion. Any time someone is angry about feminism and shoves it in my face, I use that term. Any time someone blames men for everything wrong in her life, I use that term. I didn't create it...I just use it because I like slang.

This is not meant to be a personal affront towards equality. We both know that there is a difference between being a feminist and being a zealot, which happens in EVERY WALK OF LIFE, not just feminism.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilly

I give this an "A."

Feminism shouldn't be a dirty word. It's the legacy our mothers gave us -- hard won and costly to many. That most of us have lived our lives in the wake of their work and sacrifice is what drives the contempt some people feel.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFinn

@Hilly, I think that when you call someone a "Nazi" because you "like slang," you degrade everyone who really suffered under Nazis. Should we bust out the words "nigger," "fag," "kike" etc because we like slang? Seriously, I hope that people fighting for equality are more creative than reiterating Rush Limbaughisms.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternancy

@nancy, We're going to have to agree to disagree here. I'm not going to defend the fact that I'm not some degrading racist Republican (which is actually the exact opposite of what I am). I just don't take things as seriously as some people do and you know what? That is okay.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHilly

I, like Hilly, am guilty of saying "I'm not all feminazi or anything".

What I mean when I say that is that I'm not insulted by the idea that a man opens a door for me, or picks up the check on a date. I'm not even insulted by the idea that men and different may, in general, have differences.

BUT - I am all for the feminism you much more accurately described here.

Thanks for the reminder.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

@Hilly, hahahaha, you pissed off a Nazi troll!

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

I'm totally a feminist. I'm even a feminazi. I think if women ruled things, we'd probably have a better world. Plus, there would be a 5-day period every month where murder would be legal.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

so am i not allowed to holler GIRL POWER anymore? coz i love GIRL POWER!

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

I thought feminazi's also had mullets. ;)
Seriously - what Hilly and Britt and Adam said. Because there's a reason I read their blogs and your blog regularly. :)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

Amen, sister. It took me a long time to persuade my husband that he was - and should call himself - a feminist. It's the new "F" word, y'know. I'm going to steal and use the racial analogy because it's so so good - "When someone brings up the movement for racial equality in the United States, do you go out of your way to distance yourself from it?"

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGoriWife

@Kimberly, Hey, it was so nice I said it twice? Something like that? :)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Kailyn, You know what book changed my life and my views of feminism? The Second Sex. I'm going to read that one again.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Nanna, Old? No way. You are *smart*.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@SciFi Dad, Hmmm. I just don't know where I stand on that. I went to a university that only had engineering related major available, and they did not employ an affirmative action program. The ratio of males to females was seven to one. My older sister attended the same university five years earlier and at that time the ratio was 12:1. We were popular. Verry popular.

But, I digress. I think (much to the dismay of many of my fellow liberals) that affirmative action is *generally* ineffective at the university level. We should start WAY before that. Young girls should receive special attention when they're in primary school, perhaps even be eligible for internships and semi-scholarships in high school. This would encourage them to choose to study courses that would make them mor viable as university candidates. I assume that the reason their scores are lower is due to the fact that their interests in the subject areas that pertain to engineering are not fostered adequately.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Hilly, You're very welcome. :) When I think of feminists, you would definitely be on my list. You are independent, clear minded and respectful of other people. So, yeah, you should totally call yourself a feminist.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@nancy, I agree with the point about using slang terms like that... It's an interesting problem, though. There are those of us (you and I) who attach great importance to meaning and context, and there are those who do not. The fact that someone does not attach great importance to context does not necessarily mean IMO that they would ally themselves with the people who use those words with negative connotations. Still, I am definitely of the mind that it would be better just to avoid these words altogether. I live by the rule of "make nice with as many people as possible."

I wonder how many people who harbor deep contempt for Rush even know that he coined that term? One of the problems with the word "feminazi" in particular is that it's gained such currency on the ground, even among liberals. It's kind of like the way people use the word "terrorist", now. If you get my meaning...

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Avitable, Troll? Nope. Try dear friend and mentor. Who happens to dislike Hitler. :)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Sarcastica, And I start sentences with "and" all the time. I saw a photo of you on Facebook today, and this is going to sound weird, but something about you reminds me of my daughter. I think it's the drop dead gorgeous eyes.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Faiqa, I know the origin of feminazi, but even with my dislike of Rush, I've always liked that word. It seems to go well with the militant feminism model.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

@Finn, I GOT AN A!! WOOO HOO!! I *live* for A's. They were created for me.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Miss Britt, You're welcome. And, honey, I haven't opened a door or picked up a check in thirteen years. :)

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Avitable, You are a wise, wise man, Adam. Some women are even smarter than you and act like they aren't because they want you to feel good about yourself. Some women are so awesome.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@hello haha narf, You can holler "Girl Power" any time you like. I give you permission on behalf of all feminists. Because *you* are special.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Sybil Law, Mullets are hot. They're the new rasta braids.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@TheGoriWife, Same here!! My husband always used to say things like "Watch it, she's a feminist..." until I used that argument on him. I'd like to say it worked, but more so than that the fact that he has a little girl has been far more effective. I just bust out with, "How would you like it if [insert awful scenario where women are discriminated against] happened to N." Works like a charm. Every time.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Avitable, Yeah, well you like the word "douchenozzle", too.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Faiqa, That is ABSO-lutely how I was able to turn my husband around too, when I first met him. Only I used his sister and mother as my pawns. "How do you think your mother feels about [blank terrible thing]?"

Also I took him to see The Vagina Monologues once. It was kind of like Scared Straight. Poor Guy, he was still using coconut oil in his hair back in those days. I don't think he was "ready" for all that vagina business. I'll have to write about that - it's a funny story...

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGoriWife

" ...facing up to our stupidity is perhaps the ugliest of all human burdens."

That's the quote of the day for me, right there. It applies to so many things in life.

I was perplexed by feminism in the early 1970s when I saw my twentysomething aunts burning their bras. I couldn't understand what it was all about (and all that bra-less jiggling was alarming), but I am so grateful to my aunts and women like them for paving the way, for giving me more options as a woman. For me, feminism has given us control over our bodies and our lives. It's not just about equality in the workplace but having a voice at home too - saying no to domestic violence, being able to take the Pill and so on. Those options weren't in existence before the feminist movement.

Written with your characteristic wit and warmth, Faiqa. Definitely an A+.

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSelma

OK, I'd like to set the record straight that i had accepted the good side of feminism BEFORE N. was born. Yes, it took a while for you to convince me but about half way into those years when we argued about this, I had already agreed with you, I just didn't want to accept defeat so easily :). Love ya!

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertariq

Like Oh my gawd. Like I just totally realized that I am like way feminist. LOVE IT! :D

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTwinkie

So, does that mean you will be my blogging mommy? lol just kidding :) Your daughter does have gorgeous eyes, and thanks for the compliment! I like my eyes best. If I could only be my eyes, I would be my eyes lmao.

(I am sleep deprived, sorry).

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastica

Awesome post. I'm proud to call myself a feminist... and happy to let my man open doors for me.
I also believe in the power of words. No Rush-isms for me! ;p

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAl_Pal

I've always thought of myself as one but so many people use the label to mean man hater that you have to define terms . Which takes energy I don't have. I hate when that's the first thing a bloke asks in a pub - they are just trying to get a rise so they can bang on about something controversial

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGirle

I've always thought of myself as one but so many people use the label to mean man hater that you have to define terms . Which takes energy I don't have. I hate when that's the first thing a bloke asks in a pub - they are just trying to get a rise so they can bang on about something controversial

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGirle

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