MOMENT | Feminism in 2014


This is mostly a style blog, but this weekend I was lured in by a click bait post called 14 Women Who Don't Need Feminism and I felt the need to comment here. It made me aware of a Facebook page with 3000+ likes called Women Against Feminism. One thing is clear: there's real disagreement on the connotation and definition of the word feminism. It reminded me of watching the Makers documentary last year where Marissa Mayer, the first female engineer at Google and current CEO of Yahoo said matter-of-factly, "I don't think I would consider myself a feminist." She went on to say, "I certainly believe in equal rights and believe women to be just as capable if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don't have the militant drive and the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that." That really made me pause. There are still women, even extremely successful business-minded women, who are seemingly afraid of identifying with the word feminist because they see it as a negative.

Feminism isn't about style choices. It's not about hating men. It's not about sexuality. It's really at its core about believing that men and women should have equal rights. I'm a feminist. My husband's a feminist. My dad's a feminist. President Obama is a feminist. If you're afraid of identifying as a feminist because you think that makes you a "bitch" or a "slut" or a "man hater" or associates you with a political party (as suggested by many of the 14 Women Who Don't Need Feminism), then you're letting someone else define you. We've come a long way in this country as we near the centennial anniversary of the women's right to vote, but equality doesn't just land in people's laps and sit safely there for eternity, we have to protect it and foster it as it evolves—there are plenty of nations around the globe that prove women can be considered and treated as second class citizens.

Don't be afraid to be a feminist.

[Related: A post from a few years ago on the word tomboy.]

64 comments:

laura said...

could not agree MORE. it just baffles me when i read someone saying "i'm not a feminist but..." and then go onto define feminism. i don't get it! i must be completely blind because i just can't see how it could be a bad word.
recent events (which we don't need to name here) have really confirmed for me what you mentioned - freedom is something that has to be fought hard for every damn day, because there are sadly more than enough people out there ready to take it from us. and we're STILL outnumbered in our government representation and STILL getting paid less and doing more work at home. we've come a long way but it does feel in some ways like we've hit a plateau.

sorry to ramble. love your blog and thank you for speaking out on this.

Aja Lake said...

Word.

Unknown said...

Thank you. Feminism is not a dirty word.

LPC said...

Second word.

Angela Dickerson said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Thank you. From one feminist to another.

Senator Susan Garrett said...

You are right to the point. Thank you!

Suju said...

Could not agree more. Brava!

Anonymous said...

YES! Women are strong if we are united together fighting for the same goal, but if we let a political culture war divide us, we will all suffer. Thank you for speaking so clearly and intelligently on this issue.

Anonymous said...

could not agree more!! love from Japan

Meg said...

Thank you for posting this. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for this post!!!

Cait said...

Thank you Lizzie!

Claire said...

I am with you, Lizzie.

Oxfam Australia recently published a report suggesting that gender pay equality is about 75 years away. The need for feminism and reform remains current and urgent.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! As a middle aged woman who grew up in the era of Gloria Steinam and burning bras I can say with some definity that little has changed. Except that now some politicians define rape as 'legitimate', erectile disfunction drugs are covered on way more health care plans than birth control, and in many states the right to choose is no longer an option. Put me down as a feminist.

kumi said...

I totally agree. My 18 year old athletic son (attending Stanford this fall) had to explain to his pals and his girlfriend why he and they should be feminists; my ten year old tomboy- she's a feminist. They get it, it's about equal rights, equal pay for the same work. What's not to get? I find it baffling and sad when adult women don't; so, personally, I think it's just as important that my son understands this as my daughter. Cheers on this post.

Lila said...

Unfortunately, the word "feminist" has been co-opted to mean that women are desirous of equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities which I emphatically do not agree with. I don't need special privileges and quotas, just the same opportunities as everyone else.

Michelle said...

Wow, that link is crazy-making. Completely agree with you and find it shocking it when someone like Marissa Mayer isn't standing up for something totally uncontroversial!

sweetea said...

YES! We need to say this more often! Mwah!

Vicki said...

Well said and appreciated.

Juliakhorsand said...

Yes! well said. Thanks for joining the conversation

JessieRutland said...

Right on!

Kim Hayes said...

Thank you.

Myrna said...

Amen to this!

Anonymous said...

I am a 56-year-old female. I grew up in the days where older women were fighting for the right to maternity leave, equal pay, equal benefits. Where I work at most of the employees are at least 10 if not 20 years younger than me. They are uber conservative and think feminism is not needed and would readily throw away everything the previous generations fought for. They don't understand what was won for them in the name of feminism. I am worn out and tired of arguing with them to explain it.

adele said...

HIGH, FIVE.

Feminist and proudly full of ferocity for equal opportunity until the day it is so.

I so appreciate your voice.

Anonymous said...

YES YES YES.

Thank you.

Tonia said...

AMEN! Thank you!!

Miss Maxwell said...

Thank you for this. The idea that a feminist is a man-hater with a chip on her shoulder is just out-dated and ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I am 62 and was in the thick of the feminist movement. No matter who 'believed' in it, or participated in it, or merely identified with it, every woman ultimately benefited from it. Period. We now live in a peculiar little moment in time where self-identification is being parsed minutely: are you a woman who identifies as a transgendered lesbian, are you a man who identifies as a straight crossdresser? Too bad we can't all just be people, but apparently we really don't have the time to waste getting to know people as individuals and need easy, fast categories such as 'Tea Party,' 'feminist,' 'hipster,' etc. in order to decide who can be our friends.

Lindley Pless, The Sentimentalist said...

Well said! I couldn't agree with you more. A dear friend taught me this in college and I will forever be grateful for the clarification! I am a feminist too!

Charlene Mingus said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine if there was a facebook page started called African Americans against civil rights?

Thank you for posting this. It reminded me that we need to always be fighting (and sometimes fighting means educating).

Lauren @ Honestly...WTF said...

So well spoken. Couldn't agree more.

Christina said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! Thank you, Lizzie. And thanks to all the women, men, children and animals who proudly consider themselves feminists as well. :)

Rebecca said...

YES.

Angelica said...

Thank you for this post!

Gemma said...

Yes!

random article said...

Amen! Thank you.

Gabrielle said...

YES! Well said. I am proud to be feminist.

Heather said...

A to the freaking men.

HennaLee said...

I grew up a Tomboy, loved sports and always hung with the boys. I saw this Dove commercial http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=kp&v=XjJQBjWYDTs and realized I still am a Tomboy. The little girls and I answered questions identically and was saddened by the grown-up answers. Show everyone that running like a girl means running as fast as you can.

Mamavalveeta03 said...

Thank you, Lizzie, for saying something that needs to be said more often: I'm a feminist! My daughter didn't realize what it was all about, and used to think I was over the top...until she heard Gloria Steinem speak at her college. Then, she got it!

j. antoine said...

I read the same pieces you did and had a similar reaction. I felt this sinking feeling and concern about this frame of mind picking up momentum in younger generations especially. Thanks for talking about this here even if it is a topic out of the norm.

Wendy said...

I strode into my first Women's Studies class entitled Politics and Gender, 25 years ago, it changed my worldview from that day to this. Feminism is a mode of analysis; nothing more nor less. Each wave of feminism, and there have been several, answers protest from men and women both, with data, critical thinking, and a wealth of scholarship. Charges of being a bitch, or a man-hater when a women-centric perspective is presented are not new. Happily, it's the woman in the street and her lived experience who contributes most.
Thanks for the lively exchange.

WrySmile said...

Touché Lizzie!

Leslie said...

I agree with your sensible and sensitive post. I was raised by a woman who paid for her own college education and never told me to be or not be anything. It was just assumed that I would do what was right for me and that I did not have boundaries. But, then I have been very blessed in my female relatives over time. Many strong women who would not have known that were feminists but they paved the way. One cousin, Annie, packed up her family and came to America when her father died - in 1624.

Rosalinda Sanchez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosalinda Sanchez said...

(Corrected comment)

Yeah! Well said, Lizzie!

Also loved reading the comments here.

teen said...

love this post love this blog

Kim Hayes said...

When I opened your new daily post I thought of your words from yesterday, "This is mostly a style blog,…".

Being a feminist is someone with great style.

Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

Sasha said...

Thank you for this!

It still confuses me that so many people are afraid of (and misunderstand) that word.

Anonymous said...

Fuck ya. Well put! Love yer blog :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It kills me when I hear women say "I'm not a feminist, but 'insert something about women + equality'."

Aya said...

Thank you for this. I couldn't agree more and it makes me appreciate you and your blog all the more.

Lee Taylor-Penn said...

Thank you for this post!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you.
i love your blog even more now.

Anonymous said...

thanks for writing this. i've been a long-time follower of the blog but never commented but i just felt like this was so timely and well-said. thanks for speaking for all the feminists who recognize the label for what it is.

Janet said...

We can blame Rush Limbaugh for a lot of the negative connotations.

Christan said...

amen.

Susan said...

Thank you for posting this. It's SO important.

Amelie Q said...

Thank you, I appreciate your struggle! It's not lost, many young women and men understand and we will keep on arguing for justice, equality and respect. Courage!

Amelie Q said...

This comment makes me so happy!

sarah said...

Thankyou for your comments. That link made me both sad and angry. Two things struck me, the selfish attitude that came across in the women's messages 'I'm doing okay so f@&k everyone else and secondly how women nowadays are so used to being judged and judging others by their looks, their clothes, etc they probably don't even realise that this is inequality in practice.

I for one do not forget the sacrifices and struggles that others have gone through and continue to go through on behalf of the female population.