I was shocked, SHOCKED I’ll tell you, to read over at Bite My Cookie that she does not consider herself a feminist. She said she wouldn’t make a good feminist, because her husband is the breadwinner, while she is at home with the kids, and cooking up an idea for a cookie business, which will be funded at first from money saved from her husband’s job. So, because she loves her husband, she needs him, and doesn’t want to do away with him and do it all on her own, she doesn’t think she would make a good feminist. She’s smart, articulate, well educated, strong willed, opinionated, loving, entrepenurial, motivated as hell, liberal, funny, and so many things that I’m missing…what’s not feminist about all of that? I left a comment saying I was a bit surprised, and moved on. (Her post wasn’t ABOUT feminism, by the way…it was a little quip she made in a post about BlogHer.) I moved on to a post by Tiny Cat Pants, which coincidentally was discussing feminism, in its more radical form. She linked to the blog of a stripper, who is tired of feminists and is walking away from that title in her own life.
So. Here we have smart, successful women, turning away from the term feminist. That made me think, what are they rejecting? Renegade Evolution, the woman walking away from the title, says she’s tired of it because she’s tired of women judging each other, more specifically tired of them judging her, and that deep down, she doesn’t want to become one of them, doesn’t want to start judging others. Well, I don’t either. Certainly the so called “mommy wars” are evidence of some of that judgment, and how hurtful it can be. So, I went looking for a non-biased, third person type definition of feminist. I found myself at Wikipedia, and found a lot, including this:
One of the difficulties in defining and circumscribing a complex and heterogeneous concept such as feminism is the extent to which women have rejected the term from a variety of semantic and political standpoints. Many women engaged in activities intimately grounded in feminism have not considered themselves feminists. Likewise, it is assumed that only women can be feminists. However, feminism is not grounded in the basis of one’s gender, but in rejecting and refuting sexist oppression politically, socially, privately, linguistically, and otherwise. (Though there are people – both men and women – who claim feminism itself can be biased in its approach to gender relations.) Redefining feminism in this way illustrates and reflects today’s reality of both men and women openly supporting feminism and also openly adhering to sexist ideals. From a political vantage, the term “feminism” has been rejected both because of fears of labeling, and because of its innate ability to attract broad misogyny. Historically Virginia Woolf was one of the more prominent women to reject the term early in its history in 1938, although it would be easy to overstate Woolf’s position, considering that she is regarded as an icon of feminism. However Betty Friedan would revisit this concern in 1981 in The Second Stage. Nevertheless, defining ideas does not necessarily imply tagging the individual. Ann Taylor, for instance, offers the following definition of a feminist, after Karen Offen: Any person who recognizes “the validity of women’s own interpretation of their lived experiences and needs,” protests against the institutionalized injustice perpetrated by men as a group against women as a group, and advocates the elimination of that injustice by challenging the various structures of authority or power that legitimate male prerogatives in a given society. Another way of expressing this concept is that a primary goal is to correct androcentric bias.
OK, so, let me start by telling you what the term Feminism means to me. What it means to me, to be a feminist, is that men and women are equal. End of story. I have a lot of other opinions, about working, staying home, childcare, child labor, marriage, divorce, pornography, childrens’ rights, unions, drugs, gambling, polygamy, on and on and on. And I have formed these opinions over the years, based on experiences of my own and those of others. They are none of them set in stone. If someone were to convince me that my opinion of any of these things were wrong, I would change my opinion. And none, NONE of these opinions have anything whatsoever to do with my considering myself a feminist. I consider myself a feminist, because I don’t think another person is better than me based solely upon their genitalia. Everything else is me, not feminism.
That may not be how you think about it. So, I’m wondering, especially those of you women who are smart, sassy, and strong willed….what is YOUR definition of a feminist? Do you consider yourself to be one? Why, or why not? (Let’s not leave the men out of this…all of the sexiest men are feminists, too…)
Updated to add that Aunt B. over at Tiny Cat Pants linked to this post, with her own definition: “To me, feminism is the radical notion that women are human and that being human is not equivalent to suffering.”