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“Feminist” is Not a 4 Letter Word.

December 11, 2008

I am a feminist. I’m not a bull-dyke, ultra-liberal, man-hating, make-up eschewing, abortion-having, blame forwarding bitchy divorcee. I am a feminist. There is a small difference.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking:
“Whoooaaa! I thought those two were one and the same. I mean that is what Rush Limbaugh would have me believe, so it must be true. I’m shocked, and really glad I was sitting as I read that.”
And I would say to that:
“I know… who would have thought that Rush Limbaugh could be wrong on an issue? It’s shocking, and I’m glad you were sitting down as you read that.”

OK, joking aside, there is a reason to this post. The reason is that I recently had a conversation with someone very close to me, who was quite shocked when I called myself a feminist. This person then tried to come up with an excuse for all my feminist behavior so that they could say I wasn’t a feminist.
I found this more than annoying. Great, take away my choice, why don’t you? I mean that is the whole point of feminists- ensuring women have choices, make decisions for themselves, and letting them keep their own power firmly in hand. Understanding that each woman should be responsible for her own life, her own happiness, and allowed to make each decision for herself. Skyla had an excellent post on this very issue, where she gives an example of how allowing a woman choice means that she might make a choice you don’t agree with. Read it. I completely agree with her.
As a feminist, I believe that women should lift each other up, encourage one another, not tear each other down or argue over who is right and who is wrong. Is it wrong that a friend has chosen to be a housewife, sacrificing her career? It is wrong that another has chosen career over children? Is one choice better than the other? No. Unequivocally no. As long as each woman chose based on their own desires, and not the desires of others (be it a husband, or a culture of consumerism.)
I think I first became a feminist (although I would never have called myself that at the time), when I realized that I made a huge, giant, GIGANTIC mistake with regards to a friend’s choice to get married and have a baby. She made a choice I was violently opposed to, and my decision to cut off our friendship as a result is one of my biggest regrets in life. I knew it almost immediately, but it took me a while to voice that. We have made up, and I’m forever grateful, but it was a big lesson for me- that my choice isn’t the right one for every one. It’s the right one for me alone.
Now one could successfully argue that each is a product of their culture, their upbringing, etc, and the choice is made for them long before they themselves can choose. I understand this, and therefore I firmly believe in educating young girls in (edifying) feminist ideals of equality and choice.
It is up to us (all of us, not just us with girly parts) to show our daughters, nieces, sisters, friends that they have the power of choice, and they should exercise it. It is up to us to show them that “feminism” is not a dirty word, it is an empowering word. It is up to us.
So yes, I’m a feminist. And my main job as a feminist is to show my young sister that anything is possible, and she can be whoever and whatever she wants, and I’m there to support her. It is my job as a feminist to have helped my other sister navigate a wedding that I wasn’t wholly happy about and then a divorce that other’s didn’t support. It is my job as a feminist to support my female friends as they navigate their own lives, and to be morally responsible to them, give them good advice, and then support them in any way possible, even if I don’t agree with the choice they made. It is my job as a feminist to support legislature that gives young girls true freedom of choice. It is my job as a feminist to work hard to help others who don’t have a choice, gain a choice. I don’t have to agree with their choices, but I do have to be compassionate and supportive of them.
This is what being a feminist is to me. And I hope that one day the word will embody this kind of love and compassion, instead of being used as a bad word.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some shoe shopping to do.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2008 10:34 pm

    Good, good post.

  2. December 17, 2008 10:35 am

    I appreciate this post. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to raise our daughter and all this certainly relates.

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