The "f" word
“Perhaps it’s even a victory of sorts when prominent conservative women can trash the women’s movement, even though without it, they wouldn’t be able to get a credit card.” - Mary Buffett
“She said to me that feminism was dated . . . that I should move on. We had a memorable fight. Feminist was dated? . . . For privileged women like my daughter and all of us here today, but not for most of our sisters in the rest of the world who are still forced into premature marriage, prostitution, and forced labor.” - Isabel Allende on her daughter
I’ve struggled with writing this post today because I struggle with interpreting feminism through the complexity of the movement. At times, I don’t understand women who say, as women, that they aren’t into the “feminist thing.” Yet, I can’t be upset with them because at one time I was one of those women. I think people who view the “f” word negatively do so because they relate it to past events or just to topics such as abortion, but in actuality the feminist movement is so much more.
According to the Feminist Majority Foundation, feminism is “the policy, practice or advocacy of political, economic, and social equality for women,” and according to a woman in a video clip from their website, “Acknowledging you’re a feminist is an act of gratitude for the people who went before you and fought for the rights that you’re now enjoying.” As the first quote in this post says, without the feminist movement, women wouldn’t even have the right to credit cards. Without the feminist movement, women wouldn’t have the right to vote, to own their own homes, to leave their husbands, to educate themselves, to participate in school athletics, to receive equal pay, to seek protection from an abusive husband, and to seek protection from sexual harassment. Women’s rights are about more than just abortion; without the fight for women’s rights, women wouldn’t have the option to purchase Plan B or contraceptives. Without feminists lobbying for policy change, no-cost coverage of contraceptives wouldn’t have been included under the new health care law. The feminist movement is not just about past triumphs in the United States such as the 19th Amendment and Title IX, because inequalities continue to exist in our nation, as well as worldwide.
While more women enroll in undergraduate and graduate courses, more men hold upper-level positions such as CEO’s. Watch Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk and read her new book, Lean In, to learn more about this topic and how we can change it.
Women around the world are subject to genital mutilation, public beatings, sex trafficking, child marriage, harassment, and murder for disobeying gender-biased laws. Girls’ schools in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban, teachers were murdered, and students had acid thrown in their faces while walking to school. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Action Teams for Afghan Women and Girls has fought to give back education and jobs to Afghan women through assistance and policy changes.
Thousands of rape kits containing DNA are currently waiting to be tested, while rapists are free and victims don’t receive justice. Watch Jackson Katz’s proposal that violence against women is just as much a men’s issue as it is a women’s.
Ninety percent of sweatshop workers are women, and some make as low as 6¢ per day. Companies such as Forever 21 and Nike take advantage of young women and immigrants in the US who lack awareness of their rights as workers. It’s ironic that the dominant group supporting sweatshops through clothing purchases is probably women, and I would assume that many women spend so much on designer and name brands to fulfill their insecurities. This leads us into the discussion about women feeling the need to live up to an “ideal beauty standard” through purchasing countless beauty products, clothing, accessories, and salon treatments. Read my post this past Wednesday and look for additional Wednesday posts this month for more information on the “beauty myth”* and to follow my make-up free month.
All of these issues are women’s issues . . . or yes, the “f” word’s issues. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you hate men or don’t shave or don’t have good sex (I’ve actually heard feminists are better lovers). You see, “feminist” isn’t a bad word, and feminists come in varying degrees. So maybe you’re not okay with abortion but appreciate your free or less expensive birth control pills . . . well honey, then you’re a feminist. If your boyfriend or husband appreciates them also, let him know he’s a feminist. He’ll like that;)
Listen to Isabel Allende’s TED talk to hear her definition of feminism and Courtney Martin’s TED talk for her modern perspective on feminism. If you can’t tell, I have a bit of an obsession with TED talks! Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to join me on Wednesday to hear about my first week without make-up and see with and without make-up pictures of me!
*Naomi Wolf coined the "beauty myth" idea in her 1992 book, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women.
- Buffett, M. (2013). Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the rise of fourth wave feminism. HuffPost: Women. Retieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-buffett/lean-in_b_2902325.html
- Feminist Majority Foundation. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.feminist.org/
Originally published on http://danicapelzel.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-f-word/