The “F” Word

Yeah, that’s right – feminism.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Chances are you are in the majority that doesn’t. According to a Time/CNN poll reported by CBS News in 2009 70% of women do not consider themselves feminists. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t that seem wrong? Shouldn’t 100% of women be feminists?

I was inspired to write this blog post after reading this freshly pressed article by brutereason on why Yahoo!’s new female CEO did not consider herself a feminist. The article really spoke to me. For me, an aspiring business major with hopes of venturing into the scary corporate world and the land of entrepreneurship after I graduate, this was not something I wanted to read of someone I should look up to. How could someone who’s career depends so much on the women’s liberation movement not be able to identify with it?

That’s because that dreadful “F” word has been slandered with a negative connotation. Feminists have become associated with psycho man-haters, burly women that dress in masculine clothing, and lesbianism (not that any of those things are actually bad.) It’s that resounding image of the radical side of women’s equality movement of the 1970’s that is so unappealing. But what needs to be understood is that now and even then in the 70’s there were different kinds of feminists that went around trying to get what they wanted in different ways but what they wanted was the same: equality.

By now you may be wondering, “What is this girl who runs a blog about knitting and crafting doing writing about feminism? Knitting is one of the most feminine of hobbies.” But that is just the thing. I run this blog. Without feminism I would not even be able to write and publish my own words on the Internet; I may not even be able to read! And feminism works to blur those so-called gender roles. Who said knitting was only for women? I wish men were able to openly say they loved knitting as much as I can.

Deep inside I think I’ve always considered myself a feminist but I wouldn’t have openly said so until recently. When I started getting into reading blogs and blogging myself, I discovered a whole world out there where women could do what they loved, share their experience with others, and make a living of it. That individualist spirit and independence of some of my favorite bloggers really sparked my interest and they became role models to me. And what was best was that they write about things that are traditionally considered “feminine” but do what women in the past could not do with it. They wrote about fashion, make up, crafting, knitting, and baking but they established themselves as a lifestyle and brand. With the little entrepreneurial spirit that was so traditionally “male” these women did something that could’ve never happened 30 years ago.

Last semester I took an Honors Colloquium on the pop culture of the American 1970’s and feminism was a large portion of class discussion. The class was by far my favorite class that I have taken at UD so far, but I found myself even more excited to go to class when we could discuss feminism. We read quite a bit of feminist literature of that time period. Two pieces that really called to me were Helene Cixious’s essay “The Laugh of Medusa” and Erica Jong’s novel Fear of Flying. Maybe it was because these two writers linked together women’s liberation and writing, but these words personally affected me. I wrote a stellar essay analyzing the two pieces together that just flowed out of me. It was an incredible feeling, having such a strong point of view and being able to convey it perfectly. It may have been one of the best essays I’ve written but enough bragging.

While we were discussing Fear of Flying in class, I found it incredibly sad that this question came up time and time again: Was it truly a feminist piece or did the ending paint it as an anti-feminist writing? At the end of the novel, the protagonist, Isadora Wing is faced with an ultimate decision. She could either choose to return to her husband Bennett in the United States, or continue wandering Europe with her fling relationship, Adrian. Make a choice now. Which seems like the most “feminist” option? I think most people would say Europe with Adrian. But Isadora chose to go back to her husband. Is she now not a feminist because of this single choice when the whole novel was about her liberation? A lot of my class thought so. And that was where the fault lay. Feminism is not all about “screw marriage!”  and other extremely radical ideas. Feminism is about a woman’s right to chose without the input of a man. Feminism is about respecting a woman’s decision as much as a man’s. Feminism is above all about equality.

After all this blabbering, my point is, feminism isn’t what you think it is. We need to redefine society’s definition of feminism. If you are a girl, especially one with dreams and hopes of achieving something big one day like me, think twice before denouncing feminism. And maybe the next time someone asks you that first question I proposed at the beginning of my post, your answer will be loudly and proudly, yes.

(credit to original owners)

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