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12/16/08

mull over this...

while I go about fixing my blog and eventually answering your questions....


I was eavesdropping earlier and heard a girl talking about how she wanted a female to do a particular job. She quickly inserted "I'm by no means a feminist, I just think she'd be better for the job."

Well fine, I can go with hiring the person best for the job. But not a feminist? And the derision in which she said the word, like feminists are whining evil people who only want girls to get jobs just to spite all the boys and then not invite them to their bra-burning party.

My mother, bless her, taught me about feminism early in life. According to her, a feminist is someone who supports the empowerment of women in all aspects of society. I briefly googled a definition for feminism, and came up with "Feminism is a belief in the right of women to have political, social, and economic equality with men."

Now, I know. I know. I know there are radical feminists who believe that all men are evil dictators worthy of castration for daring to impregnate them with their evil spawn which should immediately be aborted evil evil men and babies.

But in general, I think most feminists are simply concerned with equality. Voting rights, equal pay, maternity leave, all of these are issues associated with feminism.

I'm a feminist. I believe a woman should earn the same as her male counterpart in any given profession. (I'm not saying a woman should be paid the same if she isn't a competent employee, but if there are two equally competent employees, one male, one female, they ought to bring home the same paycheck.)

I believe a woman has the right to own property, vote, and fight for custody of her children in the case of a divorce, which she is free to initiate should she so choose.

I am not a post-feminist. I don't believe we have achieved equality. I think we make strides every day, but I firmly believe that a subsidiary of empowering women is continuing to act as an advocate for equality.

But that's just me. To me, there is nothing in the term or definition of feminism that justifies this girl's, (this girl who can vote, enter the workforce, and who benefits daily from the efforts of feminists,) decision to say the word feminist like it was a four-letter word.

What do you think?

17 comments:

bonz said...

ACK! Oh, friend. Do not get me started. I could rage about this for years. A very favorite friend once asked me, "You don't consider yourself a FEMINIST, do you?" like it was a poop-eater. Sigh.

Have we talked about the t-shirts I made for the Women's Law Forum last year that say "Surprised? We can vote now, too." on the back? Bahahaha!

Katie said...

I am so right there with you! In my undergrad days at the Y *whispers that like its 4-letter word* my roommates and I used to joke around that feminism was the real f-word down there.

There were certain guys who would act like I was trying to burn the Book of Mormon when I mentioned the word feminist. I pictured their mothers at home and perpetually barefoot and pregnant.

Melanie said...

I'm so with you. I'd rather be called a feminist than not, but I just wish we didn't even need the word feminist. I don't want to have to teach my daughters about feminism; I want them to feel that as women they have the same rights, worth, and standing as men.

The Victorian Era usually gets a bad rap (from feminist scholars), but as I've been studying gender roles during this time period, I've found that in some ways those really were the "good old days" for women. I have a whole post in my head titled "Has Society Progressed for Women" that I really need to get out there in writing.

Kristen said...

Katie - I found the same thing at BYU when I was there and I was only there for a summer program! It was scandalous that I was learning a "hard" language and not just for language credit. I actually wanted to be able to use that language in my *gasp* career. I pretty much felt like a freak the whole time I was there. Which is why I graduated from the U.

It's a major pet peeve of mine when the term feminist gets thrown around like it's a dirty word.

Becca said...

Back in my dating days I used to love to randomly say... You know, Jesus was a feminist. There were many gasps, and some arguing, but at least I could tell something about the guy. Of course I am married to someone that totally agrees with me, and thats all that matters. I still bring it up in Relief Society sometimes. I love to shock some of the poor misguided souls into the truth.

Nicole said...

My personal favorite is when my father and grandfather refer to feminists as "femi-nazis". Nice.

I don't know why the word has taken on such a negative connotation for so many, but I consider myself a feminist of the "I-don't-hate-men-and-babies" variety.

Basically, what you said.

Rynell said...

When I explained feminism to my husband he said, "Well, that's just common sense." It is. I don't know why so many people don't get that.

Kimbooly said...

Interesting. I actually haven't had this experience with the whole word "feminist/ism," either with a negative or positive connotation.

What I don't like is when people use the word to describe themselves when they are out looking for things to be mad at or be offended by things, but that's just my opinion. (And I'm not suggesting any of you are doing so)

What I do love are our propets' words (enter preachy church stuff)to we women of the church, as BELOVED daughters of God who have divine purposes and destinies.

I attended a sealing two weeks ago in the Newport Beach temple (SoCal) of a sweet couple. I was very touched by how the sealer spoke to the husband and wife each separately about their equal and complimentary roles.

I'm grateful (enter a thankimony) for a husband who believes in my equality and independence, and yet also appreciates my differences that compliment his. I feel like I can be a feminist and a homemaker/supporting wife at the same, if that makes sense. But on the other hand, anyone else's choices are up to them and their prayerful decisions with the Lord.

His rule is that only one person in the house can be crazy at a time. So we try to step up and act like an adult if the other is having a 'crazy' day. ; )

~j. said...

I think it's great that your mom taught you at an early age.

I'm hoping my daughters get the same message from me. Maybe it's time to do a little, "Have I told you...?" with them.

mommy dearest said...

A friend told me recently that she needed to correct my use of the word feminist. She said women in the LDS church are not feminist. I will never understand why the word scares so many women.

Dasha said...

I think that if most people thought of the definition you googled or heard from your mother as a child when they heard the term "feminist", they would not treat the term with such contempt.
I think what we see happening is similar to the treatment of the word "Muslim" in a post-9/11 world. In the same way that people now associate a religion that has no inherent ties to terrorism with terrorists, they equate the term "feminist" with the women that go around criticizing other women's life choices and labeling all men as pure evil in the name of "feminism."

Dasha said...

I think that if most people thought of the definition you googled or heard from your mother as a child when they heard the term "feminist", they would not treat the term with such contempt.
I think what we see happening is similar to the treatment of the word "Muslim" in a post-9/11 world. In the same way that people now associate a religion that has no inherent ties to terrorism with terrorists, they equate the term "feminist" with the women that go around criticizing other women's life choices and labeling all men as pure evil in the name of "feminism."

Lena said...

I think I am a closet feminist. I don't seem to care until it effects me personally. But I agree with the equal pay and status and stuff. I want to be considered just as good at my male counterpart, but there are some times I just want my husband to take the trash out cause it is gross, and I think a boy should do it.

renostar said...

I... personally think that guys are gross and dumb. And I am a feminist. Which makes me awesome.

Mrs. Clark said...

I agree with the traditional definition of feminist, which you stated. However, like the word sex, (which means male or female, as opposed to gender, which refers to language and grammar) it's become an incendiary word and for most people it means radical.

In the strictest sense, I, too, am a feminist--but I also feel that if a man takes upon himself the responsibility of a family, he is morally obligated to support that family. I am concerned that we no longer have no-fault divorce, because I have seen women who have dedicated their lives to their families and husbands left in the dust with nothing when that husband decides he doesn't want to be bothered with the family any more. Women are more vulnerable in these situations because they often forgo paid employment to care for their children. I could go on and on...

Nik "the BoyWonder" said...

so the other day the lights went out. We were all worried so I said "dont worry we can party like it is 1899" Then she got all excited and started saying "we can light some candles, cook a old style meal and cuddle up by the fire" I looked at her and said "WHOA WHOA WHOA you dont have the right to vote!"

Rynell said...

EXACTLY! That's all I can say. Amen.