promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Feminist: Reclaiming the f-word

In women's rights on February 10, 2010 at 3:53 am

I remember my Grandpa turning to me with disbelief in his in his voice and asking:

Jess, are you a feminist?

It was as if the word feminist was some horrible, four-letter language. To this day, I still get flak from brothers, friends and boyfriends for identifying myself as a feminist — a word they associate with man-hating bra burners.

This misconception is prevalent in todays society. A recent comment made by a fellow Joplin Globe blogger is evidence of the strong, negative connotation most Americans associate with the word. Anson burlingame, commenting on Johnny Kajes post celebrating the sentencing of an abortion doctors murderer, had this to say:

Or, we could have a womens rights day when some wife kills her husband for whatever reason.

I still cannot figure out how murdering ones husband has anything to do with feminism.

However, men arent the only sex guilty of such skewed misconceptions. On the contrary, women seem to be equally convinced of the words ugliness.

The other night, as I was playing the game Apples to Apples with one of my good girlfriends, I was painfully reminded of this fact. Offering a definition for the word heartless, my friend decided to lay down her card with the word feminist inscribed on it. I was shocked.

Contrary to popular belief, feminists are not heartless, bra-burning witches bent on the destruction of the male sex. To understand what a feminist actually is, one only needs to look it up in Merriam-Webster:

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

There you have it. Feminism is actually humanism, concerned with the equality of both sexes. Feminists desire equal rights for women not because they are women, but because they are human. And the word feminist is not sex-specific. Men can also be feminists.

So why the persistent negativity associated with the word?

To a small extent, I blame the extreme feminist movement and those feminist who are, indeed, sexist toward men. However, it is impossible to be a true feminist while at the same time being a sexist. The two are contradictory.

But to a larger extent I blame the sexist, male-dominated culture that insist on seeing feminism and feminists as a threat. Americans need to reclaim the word feminist and restore its original intent. Until that time, women, men, atheists, Christians, granddaughters and grandfathers should proudly bear the title of feminist.

Advertisements
  1. Jessica,

    Please get the context correct when you quote me. I was objecting to Kaje’s call for a “celebration” or holiday resulting from a murder. I then gave several examples, including the one you quoted. My point was not sexist either in intent or implication.

    Or maybe you agree that we should celebrate when a woman kills a man. Now THAT is sexist.

    Anson

    • I think she did get the context right. Here’s that context –

      “OR, we could simply treat the whole mess as simply yet another murder and not “celebrate” anything. OR, we could have a women’s rights day when some wife kills her husband for whatever reason. OR, we could have a legalize drugs day when one gang mows down another on the streets? ”

      According to this, celebrating Roeder’s sentencing (being punished for a crime) is the same as celebrating a woman who kills her husband “for whatever reason” (a plain ol’ crime).

      If it was merely phrased badly, you went out of your way to phrase it as badly as possible.

  2. Jessica, misogyny goes waaaaay back – I am thinking of how the Greekification of Christian texts removed some of the more balanced attitudes of Judaism. For example, the Jewish Holy Spirit was feminine. Greek translation neutered that aspect of divinity.

    I have done some re-defining on my blog.

    I try to not celebrate much killing, regardless, but I chuckle when you kick Anson’s butt. [Hi Anson!] It’s not really feminist (or consistent) of me to be shocked when he kicks your butt, is it? – Jim

  3. Excellent article, Jessica. It’s always aggravating when a woman goes, “I’m not a feminist, BUT…” and then outlines her ideology which could hardly be called anything but feminist (or womanist, whichever term one prefers). These women usually have simply swallowed the “feminazi” myth peddled by mainstream culture, and you can’t really blame them for that, since the myth is so pervasive.

    Then you have the colluders (coined by the blog Womanist Musings) who are explicitly anti-feminist and know exactly what they’re doing. Phyliss Schafly, Sarah Palin, etc. They’re the ones that put other women down (using the pathways earned for them by feminists, natch) in order to get headpats from their misogynistic overlords.

    As for “sexist towards men,” I’ve hung around the feminist intertubes a lot and have hardly seen any of these. Even the really radical feminists, like Twisty Faster at iblamethepatriarchy.com, at first seem hostile towards men but really only have a beef with male privilege.

    I can count “misandrist” women on one hand: 1. Lone wolf mentally ill types like Valerie Solanas 2. Aggravated straight women stereotyping all men (who, incidentally, are almost always “I’m-Not-A-Feminist-BUTS”.)

  4. To All,

    Well, in the interests of clarity let’s put it ALL on the table.

    Kaje’s blog called for “A Pro-Choice Holiday” in regards to the Tiller Murder. I commented in full, as follows:

    “OR, we could simply treat the whole mess as simply yet another murder and not “celebrate” anything. OR, we could have a women’s rights day when some wife kills her husband for whatever reason. OR, we could have a legalize drugs day when one gang mows down another on the streets? When one person kills another for whatever reason, why should anyone celebrate anything? To prove a political point?”

    THAT, IMHO, is not in any way a sexist comment. It simply refuts the celebration of a murder of any sort.

    Anson

  5. Everwun,

    I have been spectating. (Sounds messy, doesn’t it? Kinda like ‘expectorating’.) I want to try to explain what may have been unsaid, so far.

    A sentence such as ‘We could do A or B or C.’ creates an equivalence by the use of the word “or”. That equivalence is only, in the context of this sentence, applicable to a possibility, indicated by the predicate “could do”. It does not directly indicate equivalence in other ways – such as moral/ethical, legal, etc.

    The sentences being discussed began “OR, we could …”, establishing a concatenation to the prior post “We could make it like … if we really want to be stinkers.” That concatenation inherits the “… if we really want to be stinkers.”

    These sentences were not phrased badly. It is easy to read them badly. The writer, knowing his intended expression, read it one way. Another person read it differently. This seems to be a reasonable and normal miscommunication, of the sort that I have had many times with friends, discussing things we utterly agree on!

    I will take a shot at re-stating what Anson is insisting was his intention (he might know something about it):

    ‘OR, we could have a women’s rights day when some wife kills her husband for whatever reason. OR, we could have a legalize drugs day when one gang mows down another on the streets? When one person kills another for whatever reason, why should anyone celebrate anything? To prove a political point? I want to treat the whole mess as simply yet another murder and not “celebrate” anything.’

    I still don’t know if johnnykaje wants to be a stinker – there’s that “if” in there. If johnnykaje wants to be a stinker, and Anson does not, then that seems to be a point of difference.

    I vote for ‘Tiller Day’. We don’t celebrate a murderer or a murder. We do celebrate a victim who served many who experienced tragedy. – Jim

    • Jim,

      I eventually realized that calling it Roeder Day just to get sand in Roeder’s craw would be like calling MLK Day “James Earl Ray Day.” It’d P.O. JER for a little bit, but then the schadenfreude would end and the wrong guy would be remembered. So I’ve settled on Tiller Day.

      Now, what date should it be…?

  6. There are many dates of significance. There have been a number of attacks, and four murders of doctors providing abortion services.

    David Gunn (1946 – March 10, 1993)
    John Britton ( – July 29, 1994)
    James Barrett ( – July 29, 1994) {Dr. Britton’s bodyguard}
    Barnett Slepian (October 21, 1946 – October 23, 1998)
    George Tiller (August 8, 1941 – May 31, 2009)

    – – – probably too long:
    Gunn-Britton-Barrett-Slepian-Tiller Memorial Day, May 31, 2009

    – – – how about:
    Medical Care for Mothers Day, May 31, 2009

  7. Jim? You like -Jim- a lot?

    OK, to each his own. Just remember that I am happily married. But that’s not a problem. There are other ‘Jim’s. Good luck!

  8. One last “shot” at you folks wanting to celebrate or memorialize a tragedy.

    Probably some 40% (maybe higher)firmly believe that Dr. Tiller’s practice of late term abortions was morally reprehensible. So now you want to memorialize his death out of respect for such practices.

    I absolutely support Kaje’s pro-choice sentiments to a degree. But it is a morally (not thus far legally) difficult position to defend against some arguments. The exchange of ideas in defense of or opposition to such moral questions is fine.

    But to move such arguments to a celebration or holiday defending your exclusive position, no thank you from either side of the argument. Kids do that kind of stuff on playgrounds all the time.

    Why can’t thinking adults move to a higher plane of discussion?

    Anson

  9. It’s as American as Mom & Apple Pie to memorialize a tragedy.

    Stating that we would “memorialize his death out of respect for such (morally reprehensible) practices” is a false construction of our views. Try expressing your own views clearly, and don’t try to express our views unless you can do so accurately.

    It would be illuminating to know, specifically, how “I absolutely support Kaje’s pro-choice sentiments to a degree.”

    Thinking adults have memorialized the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. They have memorialized the tragic deaths of many thousands who served to protect our freedoms. It is known as Memorial Day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: