I’m a feminist. Hold your crinkled up noses, shivers, and gasps back for one second. In fact, I would like to politely suggest you please take those reactions and gracefully shove them. I am proud to be a feminist and I would like to take a second to show you why that shouldn’t be shocking.
Even now, as the third wave of feminism washes over our society, feminist is a word with which people do not want to associate themselves. If I had a ham for every time I heard the opening phrase “I’m not a feminist, but,” I would have a lifetime supply of ham. I’m not really sure what anyone would do with that much ham, but I figure that made it the perfect example to show how unnecessarily often I hear this phrase.
I always wonder, right before they finish that phrase, what is coming next. I’m not a feminist, but Audrey Hepburn seemed like a relatively pretty lady? I’m not a feminist, but I once accidentally laughed at a meme from that Texts from Hillary tumblr? I’m not a feminist, but I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t jail all women after they have served their purposes as humanity perpetuating wombs?
However, the rest of the sentence is usually less exciting. Usually, in fact, it is something about protecting women’s rights or standing up for gender equality. Usually, it is something relatively “feminist” in nature. Shocking, I know.
At this point, I often wonder why a person with feminist ideals denies any attachment to the feminist movement. Why is feminism a bad thing, especially if you sort of, kind of, a little bit agree with it? Why do people cringe when I claim ties to feminism?
I guess, when I say that I am a feminist and stand proudly as I say it, the other people in the room instantly imagine me cutting off any male genitals within reach, stuffing them into a purple velvet bag, and setting it on fire just high enough in the air to show off my armpit hair. However, this is just not what I have in mind every time I enter a room.
It is not that I mind armpit hair or believe I should shave mine because I am a woman. I just enjoy shaving. As for the other stuff, it just seems so unnecessarily violent and undeserved to me. Still, I see these reactions happen. I just don’t understand why.
Why are we so afraid of and uncomfortable with feminism? Cheris Kramarae said that, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” Why then are people uncomfortable with the label “feminist?”
First of all, there multiple forms and sections of feminism, making it practically impossible to assume something about anyone who claims ties to general feminism. Second of all, the accomplishments of feminism so far and the evolution of feminism through its three waves makes it easy to say the word “feminist” with pride.
Feminists won the right to vote for women in the first wave and influenced the final Roe vs. Wade decision in the second wave. These are only two of the many accomplishments made by feminism and the third wave is even more impressive. The third wave of feminism challenges issues of inequality and discrimination that are perpetuated even within the feminist movements. Self analysis and dissension? Bravo, I say. Bravo.
With all of these advancements, how can you NOT want to be a feminist? With brilliant and powerful feminists like bell hooks, Simone de Beauvoir, and Judith Butler, how can we force shame into this word? We are forcing it, because if we didn’t make the effort to turn this word into something negative, it would have no choice but to naturally appear in a positive light.
Feminists are people who believe in equality. Feminists are people who fight against oppression and prejudice. As Kramarae suggests, feminists are people who believe that women can be people too. Do these sound like things you oppose? Would you rather perpetuate discrimination against genitalia, skin color, identity, and other such aspects of the human being that are oppressed in the society in which we live?
You can. I can’t stop you. All I ask is that you learn more about feminism and all it has to offer this world before you shake it off. Before succumbing to this dirty, violent, and uncool connotation that comes with the word, learn its true meaning. Then, maybe you’ll understand me when I declare proudly and publicly that I, Barbara Crowley, am a feminist. Gasp!
This post originally appeared at In Our Words.