Before my festive blogging lull occurred, I was chatting to some female friends and discovered something so surpising that it was worth keeping in mind to blog about it now. The five of us were sat enjoying a spot of bubbly and some seasonal food, when the conversation somehow turned to feminism. I forget exactly what we were chatting about at the time, but the highest paid and probably most career-minded member of our little group told us all that her husband had said he thought she was a feminist when they first met, but now he knew that was rubbish. She agreed. Er, what? I would have said that, other than me, this woman was the most feminist out of our little group and now she’s saying she’s not only scared of the f-word, but she actually doesn’t understand what it means. Oh dear.
To be a feminist, you don’t have to hate men, refuse to wear make-up, go on protest rallies or despise pornography. There are many types of feminist, and the vast majority will not tell you how to live your life. However, we do believe in gender equality in all aspects of public and private life, agreeing that restrictions on females in many societies must be removed in order to bring about such equality. Whether or not you like the label ‘feminist’, most decent human beings already fall into that category so please stop believing in the stereotypes. Spread the word.
Image via Zed Books.
Bravo! Well said, I've had this conversation over and over again, in various stages of bemused bafflement to downright insane rage, when friends I know full well believe in equality for women have dissed 'feminism.' The sooner we get away from the media stereotype that it's all about man-hating and out-of-control muffs, the better.
I think the term 'gender equality' could benefit from closer inspection. I absolutely agree that there are societies that restrict females and that these gender-based restrictions are wrong, but (deep breath, I shall say something controversial now) there are also social expectations that women should strive to be 'equal' where equal means doing what men do. There are lots of things that women can do that men can't do, but trying to do what men do inevitably hinders them from doing those things. For me, feminism is about valuing women equally, even though we might be doing different things.
@Karen well said.
Of course any discriminatory rules should be removed, but so many feminists argue that the correct answer is to have exactly 50/50 split in every field. Or even, to try to balance out the past using positive discrimination. I'm against both of these. I'm still a feminist, honest, but I prefer to say that I'm against gender discrimination than “pro-women” as the word feminist, rightly or wrongly, appears to entail.
I include men and the non/multi-gendered in my quest, e.g. men wanting to stay home and raise a family shouldn't get less time off, that sort of thing. Feminism doesn't cover this, as I understand it. If feminism is the desire for equality, why not say you're an equalist? Why keep the strangely gendered word?
How would we go about getting a new word like that into general usage though?