What exactly is a feminist?

Images-1There was an interesting conversation on a listserv that I am on about feminism.  Then I had another conversation with a very good friend who is involved with Spark A Movement working on stopping the sexualization of women in the media talking about the perception of feminism being hard core radicals.  

When did feminism become a dirty word?  Here is the definition of feminism in Wikipedia: A feminist is "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women".  Is it that we need a new face of feminism?  Someone wrote that if more people identify themselves as feminists the face of feminism will change and expand.  That there is strength in being feminine yet being bold about who we are and the lives we want to lead. 

I would hope that technology is helping us redefine feminism.  Maybe we just have to rebrand the word.  I consider myself a feminist.  I support women.  I have figured out how to create my own path that might not be the norm but it works for me.  Isn't that what the women of our past generations did that we considered feminists?  Isn't that why we all look up to Gloria Steinem?  She publically broke the mold.   

Maybe it is time for a new revolution.  When I see commercials on air where women are nit picking  their friend about how she doesn't keep her house clean I want to vomit.  Stop judging and start applauding.  Women can choose their own paths but we need some new feminists who we can all look to as role models and those women need to say, "I am a feminist". 

Who are they and who should be leading this campaign? 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. takingpitches

    Stop judging and start applauding!Great words for human relations generally! See the good in things.

  2. falicon

    I actually consider myself somewhat of a feminist in that I believe women are just as (if not more in many cases) capable to do everything that a man can do…I have also always believed that they are strong enough, and should have the freedom, to make their own decisions and be in control of their own fate throughout their lives.But I think where the challenge has shifted over the years is that at first, the feminism movement was about changing a mindset…trying to get both men and woman to honestly believe there should be equality. To get woman, not just to want it, but to expect and demand it. I *think* this has been accomplished.However, society has yet to match actions with beliefs…and that’s where the challenge currently lies…I don’t know anyone these days that really doesn’t believe women should have all the same opportunities as men…and yet as a whole salaries *are* lower, promotions *are* harder, respect *is* often tougher to come by, faith *is* harder to earn…these are all cases of common actions simply not backing up common beliefs…So to me that’s the real (and very tough) challenge….I don’t know how we go about solving the issue on a global level (certainly continued education and enlightenment on the issue is a part of it — but not enough)…the one thing I can say is that, because it’s action based, it has to take hold on a personal and individual level…every person simply has to be aware and accountable for making sure their actions back up their beliefs.Having a face or a leader for the cause wouldn’t hurt…but I really think it’s more about having millions of regular people leading the movement through their day-to-day actions…unfortunately that’s a path to change that takes a long long time….though it is getting better and better for each generation…

    1. Gotham Gal

      Your thoughts are IMHO spot on[image: DISQUS] <http: disqus.com=””>

  3. Wavelengths

    I say “start in your own neighborhood.” Some people have a neighborhood as big as their reach from a public platform and/or the internet.I’ve been quiet in many ways the past several years while dealing with some health issues. (Much better now.) But this past summer I had a direct confrontation with what felt like bullying and sexism on multiple levels. I had to confront it.I had a small flower garden in front of my apartment — a tough proposition in West Texas summer drought conditions, but by watering three or four times a day, I managed to finally coax some flowers into bloom.Then a single mom moved in with her two young boys — 8 and 10. The first time I met her, I gently remarked on my flowers and asked that she tell the boys to leave them alone. She told them, but the next day, right in front of her and me, they ran through the flowers. More footprints showed up in the middle of my shocked and cowering bachelor buttons. I opened my door one day to see one of the boys running straight through the struggling flowers and I yelled. Then I went to the mom.My conversation with her went something like this: “They are ignoring me, but worse, they are ignoring you, This is a clear case of defiance and un-neighborly behavior, and they think they can get away with it with no consequences. This isn’t good for you or me or for the boys. With your permission, can I ask for some help from a nice officer in the police department?” She admitted that her ex-husband had treated her this way and encouraged the boys to act defiant and disregard her.One of the nice things about a small-town police department is that they can find someone to handle a little chat with a couple of would-be hooligans in the interest of keeping the peace and re-directing the boys’ behavior. I made the call, explained to the officer that this was about encouraging community values, and the flower garden was a symbol. Yes, I was upset at the losses, but this was more about trying to encourage a different attitude from the kids. The officer went to the neighbors’ apartment.About 15 minutes later, I had a knock on my door and two shame-faced but adorable little boys apologized sincerely for their behavior and said they would watch out for my flowers, tell their friends to watch out for the flowers, and they wouldn’t do it again.Since then, I’ve admired the rodeo belt buckle one of the boys won for “mutton bustin;” I’ve bought the cookies and candies that kids sell for school fundraising every autumn, and we always say hello.Last weekend, four neighbor boys were playing outside my door with bungee cords. A friend of mine dropped by and offered to show them how to tie a bowline — a “real mountain-climber’s knot.” This seemed a good time for me to pull out an old climbing rope that I’d kept in the car along with other emergency provisions. I cut off nice, generous lengths for each boy to have for practice, and they each learned a new skill and walked away with “a real climbing rope” as a souvenir. When I drove out of the parking lot a little later, two of the boys were walking around with their ropes slung over their shoulders, showing off their perfect bowline knots.I am a feminist. I empowered the mom, helped to redirect the boys, and stepped up to give the boys in the neighborhood a reason to respect an older woman who they had previously seen as just a target for their mischief. Yes, I really have climbed mountains. And now they know something else about women!

  4. JLM

    .I think many times in life we become impatient and try to create a “revolution” when what we really need is just a spot of “evolution”. A thimbleful.I also think that we often fail to look backwards and measure progress before we bolt off into the distance.I will embarrass you just a bit — your personal example as a mother, wife, blogger and investor is a quiet (well, actually not so quiet) revolution in its own right but you are most powerful when it is done slyly and subtly in such a manner that nobody sees you coming.Southern ladies are want to say — “Oh, sweetheart, why would I want to give up my special powers and be just like a man?”I cast my vote for guileful evolution..

    1. Gotham Gal

      i’m casting my vote too

      1. Wavelengths

        You set a fine example. I come here to enjoy being around a multi-talented, multi-faceted, intelligent woman who has created a lovely online presence. Keep practicing your special brand of feminism.

    2. Wavelengths

      Ah, JLM, if you were on that Thanksgiving vacation caving expedition with the other five of us, you’d have been glad I came along. You might have thought it was a typical “boys’ trip,” but there was also another woman who liked to explore the dark unknown.After we all emerged from our underground adventures, and got ready for dinner in our campsite, 50 miles from the nearest paved road, I was the one who pulled out the smoked turkey with all the fixin’s and enough wine to make sure we really had a celebration.Yep, I’m a feminist. And I can even bat my eyes, if it’s appropriate. 🙂

  5. ShanaC

    I’ve been openly a feminist for years. However, I think one the problem with identity politics (of which feminism is part of) is that identity politics often cover the core of what it means to be a person. I’m not just a female (though I happen to be one).Sometimes I think we should move to peoplelist – where we make it possible to makle sure all people have opportunity.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i like that “peoplelist”

  6. Amaka

    I too read a post recently about this, and was curious what you and a few other women thought of the topic. Lovely post!