I am a feminist.

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Editor’s note: This post was inspired by a comment left on an earlier blog post, that questioned my definition of feminism as “simplistic.” It made me think very hard about why I believe so strongly in using a simple definition. “Of course it’s simple,” I wanted to argue. “No one understands it if it’s complicated. You have to crawl before you can walk.”

I know this is just the beginning. But I would argue that it’s an important step. A definition is an important step.

I hope this helps.

Now, off to shave my pits. And maybe listen to some Beyoncé.

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40 thoughts on “I am a feminist.

  1. I loved this post. I don’t often comment on your blog but I should. Outstanding! Like you, I find my concept of feminism challenged daily, and I find that my definition is slightly different than say someone else that runs around screaming “inequality” every time they start a conversation (not that there is anything wrong with that, just I find it stops a lot of dialogue).

    Let’s agree that it is a loaded word, but that both of us still use it. And hopefully, by being pretty normal and easy going about it, you and I can help change the stereotype to a new concept of reasonable people just wanting equality. Period.

  2. Let’s all continue to admit that we’re feminists. No more “I’m a feminist, but…” There is no but! Your definitions are straight and to the point, and how can any thinking person not agree that women deserve equal respect? Thank you for your excellent thoughts.

  3. I like this post and it’s sentiment, furthermore you sound like a very reasonable and well informed person. However I do have some reservations about the second definition of feminism mentioned and also the branding of the feminism movement as a whole.

    First that second definition. My issue is the word oppression. Oppression is defined by Wikipedia as the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. This definition (in the context of feminism) implies a deliberate use of power to suppress the wishes of women. Very few men deliberately try use any power society gives them to prevent women from earning equal standing in society (as you mentioned some of us actively promote womens’ standing in society). Also the use of power suggests only men (as the supposed powerful ones) can oppress, I think women also contribute to the sexist attitudes of gobal societies.

    My issue with the branding of feminism is the word itself. It has the same suffix as sexism and racism, except feminism is supposed to be a good thing. A more accurate term for the true feminists would be a gender equalitist (a bit of a mouthful though it is) it implies a more fair approach to getting equality on the basis of gender, like your fist definition (which by the way I love). Feminism has in the past and probably still a little bit at the moment been hijacked by people who do hate men like the writer of this post https://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/a-man-is-a-rape-supporter-if/ so a rebrand may help the cause for gender equality even more.

    Gender equality in my opinion is one of the key problematic issues society has today, I just think feminism is currently not equipped, because of flawed definitions and the hijacking from idiots, to tackle this issue.

    • A few thoughts:

      1. There are many cultures around the world where one gender is oppressed in burdensome, cruel, or unjust manners. Feminism is not just a “first world” movement.

      2. The definition of feminism that uses the word oppression does not state that only women are victims of sexism and oppression.

      3. The suffix “-ism” does not have any inherently negative meaning. It simply “denotes action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc.” (dictionary.com). Other examples include Darwinism, witticism, and intellectualism.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this….I LOVE IT and couldn’t agree more. Being a feminist is part of my everyday life as a female firefighter and it’s exhausting to hear what people perceive a feminist to be. We just want to be seen as equal human beings…no better and no worse than men. I am a feminist because I believe I have the right and ability to be a pretty girl when I want, a wife and mother and to have a job where I prove daily that I can do the same things as a man can!

  5. I don’t think feminism is, in it itself, complicated at all. It’s as simple as the definition, as many concepts are. It’s the emotions and opinions that are placed on it that make it seem complicated. It’s a subset of basic human rights. Btw, we’re ALL trying to figure it out and it’s good to see that so many of us are.

  6. Now in my 40′s, I hadn’t thought about people being feminists for a long time, until I met a 20 year-old who proudly, and quickly, informed me that she was one. I looked at her kinda sideways and said, yeah so? I mean, who isn’t? I guess I wasn’t because I hadn’t been thinking about it for so long. Anyway, I am one again. And I submit that a definition that isn’t centered around men is a good one in my book.

  7. Love this. I am new to blogging and have recently been grappling with my identification with feminism myself. Such a simple concept can certainly get extremely complex. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that you are still learning. I think we all are. I think it’s important to admit when we don’t have all the answers, but still not being afraid to identify the problems. Hopefully more of this will encourage others to call themselves feminists. Especially when they realise you get to continue loving your male family members and keep your razor and everything!

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  9. Feminism can be summed up in one sentence: The belief that the Patriarchy is oppressing females. Period.

    If you don’t believe that the Patriarchy and systematic female oppression exist, then you are not a feminist. The struggle against sexism and for equality is ONLY seen through the lense of the struggle against Patriarchy and female oppression and therefore, it is not the main focus of feminism. It is really simple to understand.

  10. Reblogged this on galsinblue and commented:
    I could care less if my mother reads this post. She pretty much already knows all this about me anyway. But that seems to be the big difference between the original author and myself.
    I’m seriously wondering if somehow this author is a long lost younger sister I never knew about. Our thinking is as similar as similar can be. But now I have questions about my mom’s past. She has certainly never been a feminist of any type. (Though she has never been anti-feminist either.)
    Okay. With that said, enjoy this mediation of my Kansas thinking…

  11. I reblogged it with a pre post that you might be a long lost baby sister. I know you’re not but it seemed to work… love the post! New follower. Looking forward to future postings. 🙂

  12. Good Post !
    Another ‘ism’ which is used to divide people into a group. You would think in this modern age,people could just be left to be who they are !
    Naturism is our ‘ism’ and once again people section ‘people like us’ off and then give some kind of opinion. Once again nobody real knows us and if they did,they’d find we are normal,just like most of the other people in the world.

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  16. Ha! First, I love this. Second, I have this thought in my head: I love MEN; but GUYS drive me nuts. That said, I’m in this Zen-y phase, so I’m trying to love everyone. Even douchebags. Just kidding. Thanks for writing this one.

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  19. I appreciate that you are trying to disseminate the basic feminist definition to the masses in an accessible way, but I’m also disappointed that you’ve misrepresented aspects of feminism somewhat. I’m specifically referring to your use of the bell hooks quote to try and show that feminism is not about being angry. You’ve taken her words out of the context of her whole intersectional feminist theory and her body of work. She was very outspoken about the value of anger in feminism as a political movement, which other important feminist theorists have also written about. Bell hooks wrote an incredible essay called “Killing Rage: Militant Resistance.” The first sentence is, “I write this essay sitting next to an anonymous white male who I long to murder.” In the essay, she describes a series of anti-black racist incidents against her as a black woman at an airport involving the white man sitting next to her. She writes, “I felt a ‘killing rage.’ I wanted to stab him softly, to shoot him with the gun I wished I had in my purse. And as I watched his pain, I would say to him tenderly ‘racism hurts’” (11). She writes that “racial hatred is real” and that “it is humanizing to be able to resist it with militant rage.” She writes that “rage can act as a catalyst inspiring courageous action” (16).
    The black lesbian feminist theorist Audre Lorde wrote in “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” that “every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change.”
    The Riot Grrrl Manifesto also references anger several times. It says that “the coming angry grrrl rock revolution…seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere,” that they are “angry at a society that tells us GIRL=DUMB, GIRL=BAD, GIRLS=WEAK,” and that their anger is “real and valid.” There are many more instances of anger being an important part of feminism throughout history and in the theory, which feminists should not be afraid to acknowledge just because men won’t like it or something. We are angry for good reasons. I just don’t want people to use your post to undermine the very thing that bell hooks actually advocates. As a woman of color living in a white supremacist patriarchy, I am also angry and I find refuge in the works of other women of color who show us that we are not wrong for being angry. Feminism is often about being angry.

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