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?
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.