The “F” Word: Fuck Female Censorship | By Cathryn Beck

From October 22-26, The Wanderer Online is participating in the “Who Needs Feminism?” Call to Action Week, which you can read more about here. Throughout the week, we’ll be posting 2-4 articles per day where writers answer the question “I need feminism because…” If you’re interested in writing something, please send us your piece at Keep in mind that you are totally allowed and encouraged to write anonymously, if that works better for you. 
I don’t like the term feminism.

The fact that I don’t like this term is a problem.  It’s a problem because my dislike is part of a widespread aversion to the movement, and it’s a movement that needs to move forward.

Flashback to a couple of weeks ago.  Something came up in one of my classes, and my (female) professor was trying to explain that feminists might take a certain stance on this particular topic—But she felt the need to clarify that she is not a feminist.

This is a heartbreaking reality.  How can this be?  How can a woman not wish to fight for her own rights and freedoms?

Flashback further yet—back into the bleary days of summer that now appear an unattainable mirage in our minds—to when Brave hit theatres.  The hype was immense: “Pixar’s first female protagonist!” So I forked out the $30.00 for my boyfriend and me to see it.  Needless to say, it was a disappointment.  I won’t begrudge anyone their taste in movies, but it was not the feminist piece that we were led to believe it would be.  That much we agreed upon.

What happened thereafter, however, was a long and very heated debate—okay, an argument—about feminism.  Of course, we both agreed that women ought to be equal to men: that pay should be equivalent across jobs, regardless of gender; that women shouldn’t need to wear makeup to recreate their faces into some sort of dysmorphic ideal… So where could this debate possible lead?

The “F” Word.  It came out lots.  And I didn’t like it.  Of course, I’m talking about “feminism.”

I had—and admittedly still hold—an aversion to the word itself.  I found the very name of the movement—FEMINism—to be self-defeating.  At its heart?  Femininity: a notion—a construct—created to distinguish us from the masculine.  The term lexicalizes a gendered dichotomy that I feel ought not to exist.  My understanding of the intent of the movement is to transcend this gap created between two halves of our society caused by us having a fucking gap between our legs.  The movement should eliminate gendered biases.  Our genitalia, and our classification of gender, shouldn’t even matter.

So I rejected feminism as being insufficient.  Insufficient to fulfill its aims, and insufficient for the times.  I wanted something bigger, and something better.  A term or a movement that could encompass everyone and everything.  Egalitarianism, perhaps?  Besides, women have it pretty good right now compared with some other, more marginalized groups, such as those involved in the gay rights movement … Right?

Wrong—At least, for now.You see, until very recently, I was censoring the inequalities in my mind.  I didn’t want to hear “feminism.”  I had internalized the misogyny that is sewn into the very fabric of our society.  After countless more debates with my boyfriend, after analyzing the advertisements that make us analyze our bodies (see Killing Us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne), and after tearful nights of realization after reading blog posts such as this one, I have begrudgingly taken a look through the microscope.  Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t ignore it.  It’s everywhere.  And it’s horrifying.While I still believe that the term itself embodies a gender divide, this movement is far more necessary than I thought it to be just six months ago.  It’s all about the baby steps.  But even baby steps can be hard to make when balanced upon a pedestal for display.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my high heels—I think they look nice.  But I can’t tell you, anymore, why I think they look nice.  It’s bothersome.  I just always wanted to wear them when I was little—I was aspiring to become this societally idealized woman.

Something as simple as a status update by a popular local radio station exemplified the disgust accompanied by my newfound enlightenment.  Accessible here, 102.3 NOW! Radio host, Fitzy, posted the following:
… To which I replied:
This kind of segmentation of gendered traits is found everywhere.  And I believe this anti-feminism is part of what is holding the world back in many regards, including the aforementioned gay rights movement.  How?  To be gay means to reject the cultural norms of being a man or a woman. Being a homosexual means stepping out of the gendered boundaries our culture has constructed to keep us in our neat little pens.  It’s stepping out into the grey area, when everything is easier to categorize when it’s black and white.

Feminism isn’t just relevant for females.  Feminism fights for equality of traits, personality types, clothing, ideas, and other associations that have become gendered—and therefore unequal—in our society.

So, let’s “F” the system.  It’s time to stop censoring ourselves, folks.  Who needs feminism?  We, as a culture, need feminism.  And we need to accept that fact.

Cathryn is a fourth year English Major and Linguistics Minor.  According to her brother, she is the “English Mage.”  She has a wizard hat and everything.

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  • Jessica Macumber

    Really great article! Just one thing I wanted to throw up for discussion or speak a bit about for interests sake.

    “To be gay means to reject the cultural norms of being a man or a woman. Being a homosexual means stepping out of the gendered boundaries our culture has constructed to keep us in our neat little pens.”

    While it is true that expression of homosexuality can mean rejecting the ties between biological sex and performed gender roles this doesn’t necessarily define being gay. On the contrary I would say gender roles can sometimes become more significant for someone who is gay. The derogatory use of the word gay often implies that something/someone is not masculine and is showing feminine qualities. The stereotypes of a flamboyant gay male and butch lesbian are an example of maintaining the normative heterosexual relationship ideal of society. This is the issue with the false connection between sexual orientation and gender expression that is reinforced by societal norms. The pressures of gender roles are still very much present in the GLBTQ community but certainly there are individuals and groups of all sexual orientations who are challenging and rejecting gender norms.

    • Cathryn

      I agree with you completely! I probably would have dug deeper into this issue, but the article was a little more about a personal self-discovery and the road to a feminist viewpoint. =) Those are thoughts that I should, however, have elaborated upon—I think I sort of touched on the issue of “genderized” traits with regards to the Facebook status… Which would obviously apply to some people in the gay community who may display traits that are considered to be more “feminine” or more “masculine.”

  • Gavin Goodwin

    I have to agree with Jessica. I feel like trying to mix the issues of feminist and gay rights can get messy very quickly. The relationship between sexual attraction, which gender a person identifies with, which gender they choose to portray externally, and which societal gender norms a person chooses do acknowledge are all separate things and can vary independently from person to person. So, I guess my point is to be careful when drawing connections between this issue and other issues like “gay rights”, because without a high level of awareness it is too easy to generalize and unintentionally reinforce other stereotypes… if that makes any sense. If not, we are far overdue for a coffee date so when we both have time (which seems like never) and we can discuss it in person! :]

    • Cathryn

      Lol Gavin! =)

      My intention wasn’t to draw parallels in that way, per se. That’s why I was iffy on extrapolating in my article—Gay rights, while I support them, is not so much a movement I’m terribly familiar with. (Though the same could be said for feminism). Bringing it up in the article kind of served the purpose of showing my ignorance—in many regards.

      We do, indeed, need a coffee date. This would be easier to talk about in person XD. I feel like my words are failing me at this point.

    • Cathryn

      HOWEVER: I will say that I *do* think feminism benefits the gay rights movement. And I think that feminism benefits most men. It’s not strictly a women’s movement. The patriarchy is shitty for everyone.

  • Erika

    I was hoping there’s be a post about internalized misogyny! Definitely a relatable experience.

  • Lauren

    I really enjoyed the following points that you made:
    “The term lexicalizes a gendered dichotomy that I feel ought not to exist.” and “While I still believe that the term itself embodies a gender divide, this movement is far more necessary than I thought it to be just six months ago.”

    I can completely relate. For a long time I avoided feminism because it seemed to acknowledge that gender was an issue, and I didn’t want it to be. There are a handful of exceptional articles in The New Yorker, however that caused me to start to appreciate feminism, not for the word that it is, but for what it stands for.

    Thanks for the great post! I think it’s very thought-provoking, and it probably relates to a lot of people as it did with me. 🙂

    • I completely agree with this comment, I think Cathryn really eloquently illustrates an issue I think many women have with feminism!