I want to dedicate this post today on a very important, misunderstood, and highly under-appreciated topic today. You see, the “F” word is a crucial part of my vocabulary, and the reason I refrain from writing it full-out in the title of this blog post is because I do not want to discourage certain readers from hearing me out. So, before I begin explaining, I want you to make a silent promise to yourself that you won’t write this post off simply because of a word. Judging this post on a simple word is very ignorant. And as any dystopian novel would warn you (think Brave New World) choosing to be ignorant (or “uninvolved” or “neutral”, as some might call it) is just as horrible as being an offender. As Elie Wiesel once famously said,
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Now, it might be a bit extreme to refer to those affected by the “F” word as “tormentors” or the “tormented,” but by not putting my two-cents in, or not taking time to consider anyone else’s two-cent, an issue can never be resolved. It would be like looking at a pile of dirt, and wishing that that pile of dirt would go away, but instead of cleaning that pile of dirt up, simply ignoring it, or pretending that it isn’t there. Pretty soon, most people will start believing that that pile of dirt is okay–in fact, it should be there, for several logical reasons someone will come up with, I’m sure. But, know that someone out there besides yourself also sees that pile of dirt and wishes it would go away, but that person probably isn’t able to clean it up by themselves. In fact, they’ll probably go about it in some silly fashion–like trying to spoon it into the trash.
So the point is, don’t be that person that refuses to clean up the pile of dirt. And also, when you do decide to clean up that pile of dirt, bring a shovel.
Alright, now that I’ve gone on a sort-of long tangent, I’ll tell you what the “F” word is.
I know what you’re thinking–it’s not that. Well, if you know me at all, maybe it is what you’re thinking.
The “F” is (drum roll, please): Feminism.
If you are a person, and you’ve stopped reading this blog because of that word, and therefore do not know what this line says, you are a certified dummy. (I’m a bit of an anti-climatic name-caller, my apologies).
So, Feminism. Yeah.
Let me start this topic by saying that I’ve been attempting to write this blog for about three hours now, but got sidetracked by my dear brother, who–at the start of this blog–addressed me by saying, “Just so you know, I don’t agree with your viewpoints on feminism.” And thus ensued a two-hour-long discussion on what feminism really is, and why we feel the way we do. And, as frustrating as I always find verbal discussions such as that because they never change anyone’s viewpoints, and I am significantly less talented at verbalizing than I am at writing my thoughts and opinions, the conversation was good for me, and subsequently this blog post because it has helped me decide how to approach this post in a better way than I would have before: Instead of sitting here, and spending hours spewing my thoughts and opinions on gender equality, sexism, woman’s rights, etc, I would like to talk to you about the connotation behind the word feminism.
You see, it greatly upsets me that many of the people I come across or speak with are of the belief or opinion that feminism is a bad thing, an extreme, or radical thing. Many of the people I know hold this idea that feminists are man-hating, bra-burning, ugly, old hags who just hate the world and want women to be the superior sex.
This is possibly the most frustrating and depressing idea and stereotype I have ever run up against personally. Saying this to me, feels like the equivalent of telling me that the Civil Rights Movement was a bad thing because MLK Jr. hated white people. Or saying that we should not hold events like Relay for Life because cancer research will go on without the fundraising event.
These things, to me, seem absurd. Of course MLK Jr. didn’t hate white people–if that had been his main motive for supporting the Civil Rights movement, he probably wouldn’t have supported it at all. He would have simply gone somewhere where he could have been further away from the kinds of people he didn’t like. And of course events like Relay for Life are good. Sure, cancer research will go on even without it, and sure, there will always be private donors, but every effort is important in its own way (besides, Relay for Life supports cancer victims in other ways as well).
What I’m saying is, do not judge a label because of a stereotyped connotation. The definition of feminism is simply the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. It has nothing to do with hating men, being ugly, sexist, or wishing for the superiority of women. It has nothing to do with the extreme protesters who burned their bras or stopped wearing skirts or make-up (granted, there is nothing wrong with living in pants or going make-up free. I also think there is nothing wrong with wearing skirts or dresses or heels. It’s your body, be aware of yourself, and choose to portray yourself the way you wish to be seen).
My brother says that from experience, many of the women he has met who call themselves ‘feminists’ are extremely sexist, which unfortunately supports the stereotype that feminists look down upon men. But that simply isn’t true. With the definition of feminism that I’ve presented above, my brother would be considered a feminist, even if he doesn’t call himself that, and so would many, if not all, of you reading this post. The real problem here is that the term has picked up such a negative connotation over the years that many people don’t see this, or understand this. It really, really, REALLY frustrates me–particularly when I am having an intellectual conversation with someone, and their reaction is, “Oh, you’re one of those.” And suddenly, all of my opinions and viewpoints on everything are invalid to that person.
It’s extremely upsetting not to be heard by someone, because they so readily buy into a stereotype.
So, to make this post short, please don’t buy into the stereotype. And, if you want to help make the connotation go away, don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re a feminist. Being a feminist is nothing to be ashamed of, and if more people get educated on the topic, and openly admit to supporting gender and woman’s equality, then people like my brother might meet more rational, true feminists, and stop readily accepting such stereotypes.
*If you would like to read more on the Woman’s movement and feminism, check out the book: When Everything Changed by Gail Collins.
*To get an idea of why feminism is still an important topic, check out this page.