The ‘F’ Word: Feminism

Feminists – bra burning, man-haters or advocates for political and social equality?

Feminism, Feminist

In the past, many women proudly hailed to the feminist cause wearing the label like a badge of honor. It was the strength, courage and determination of these feminists that yielded women many basic rights that they had been previously denied, such as the right to vote.

Sadly, feminism, once a great and worthy cause, has evolved into a dirty word that many women avoid like the plague. The dreaded ‘F’ word has become synonymous with the idea of man-hating women who want to usurp power from men. In fact, the stereotypes that have taken hold are so pervasive within our culture that many women, who’s beliefs may be fundamentally feminist, are too afraid to call themselves feminists.

Even celebrities have been trying to distance themselves from the ‘F’ word:

“No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”

– Shailene Woodley

ā€œIā€™m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture — beer, bars, and muscle cars.ā€ 

– Lady Gaga

Note: She later told the LA Times that she is a “little bit of a feminist.

Despite the misguided and stereotypical views of feminism, I have a confession to make. I. Am. A. Feminist.

No, I do not hate men, burn my bra, refuse to shave my legs or hail as a queen bitch. Though I am often too lazy to shave my legs, and am quite capable of invoking my bitchiness, that has nothing to do with feminism.

By definition, feminism is ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’

It does not mean that we believe women are better than men or deserve more than men. It simply means that we believe in equality – equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities. How can that be a negative thing?

Feminist, What is feminism

Okay, yes. There are some feminists who also happen to be misandrists, people who hate men. However, misandry and feminism are two different beliefs. In actuality, many feminists love men or are men. And we welcome feminist men in our ranks and love feminist men in our lives.

So while you do not have to identify as feminist or agree with feminism, you should not fear it. It is not a dirty word to be kept out of your vocabulary or distanced from your identity. It is a belief grounded in the fact that we are all human, worthy of the same rights and opportunities.

Some may think feminism is no longer needed. Women have the right to vote. They have the right to an education. And they are no longer expected to simply be housewives. They have a choice.

But there are still fewer women in positions of power. There is still a gap in wages earned by men and women who hold the same position. And there are still women across the globe who are striving to reach the level of autonomy that we have in our society. Women who are married off at young ages. Women who are denied education. Women who are shunned or tortured for rejecting marriage proposals. Women who need feminism.

So don’t fear the ‘F’ word. Embrace it. If you are a feminist, let your feminist flag fly high with honor and pride. I know I will.

What is feminism to you? Do you consider yourself a feminist?

  • Kristen

    great post love! its honestly not something i have ever really thought of, you know? i do believe in equality in relation to salary and jobs and whatnot. its unfortunate that some people give feminism a bad word. like a friend of a friend is very opinionated and obnoxious, and she was over my house for whatever reason and she was like want me to take the trash out? and i called my husband to do it, and she asked why i wouldnt let her, and i said i didnt not let you, its my house and you are a guest and i would appreciate my guests not doing things like that, and its my husbands job. she lost her shit and called me a bad woman because i should do things blah blah and i was like slow your roll, our marriage is equal and we do equal chores. thats one of his jobs, and i was busy cooking. and she would not let up until i asked her to leave and she said she would because she was a feminist and clearly i was not. she made my head hurt. sorry for the long comment šŸ˜‰

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Wow! She definitely sounds challenging! There’s nothing wrong with splitting up chores. Troy and I do it all the time! I think that goes along the same lines when people try to make housewives feel bad. Feminism means we have the choice. It doesn’t dictate the way EVERY woman should act. :) Thanks for your comment!

  • Kate

    I fully support equality in all things but I have to admit that I associate being a feminist with hating men like the people you noted. I appreciate the perspective and eye opening!

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha! Yea, feminists have definitely gotten a bad rap. There will always be people who take things to the extreme – extreme Christianity, extreme Islam, extreme activists, extreme feminists. :)

  • Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage

    Feminism is still very much needed. Yes, while many of us in the US enjoy equal rights, there are so many woman in other countries and cultures that do not enjoy the basic rights that we do. It is so heartbreaking that they are treated as second class citizens. Great post!

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      It is very heartbreaking that women all over the world are still seen as second class citizens. There are so many subjected to such horrible treatment. Feminism is definitely needed for them. Thanks for your comment! šŸ˜€

  • Leah

    I’m a feminist too! I love the good men in my life, but that doesn’t mean I won’t call out shitty behaviour from other men. I actually have a post coming up about WHY I’m a feminist. I’ve been a feminist since the age of 17, but I never knew what to call it for many more years. I just thought of it as not taking any shit. :)

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha! I am also working on a post about why I’m a feminist. I look forward to reading your reasons! :) And women who don’t take any shit from anyone are my favorite type. šŸ˜‰

  • Jenn @ hello, rigby!

    absolutely, even though my most today is slightly ironic (considering my post today was about relying on a man…) I definitely believe women should always have equal rights and pay, and one of the biggest things that irritates me is the way women are treated in the workforce. I work in a profession that is 80/20 men/women and even though it may not be intentional, often women are treated completely differently than men in the same role.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha! Well, I think part of being in a relationship is being able to be partners, so essentially you’re relying on each other. And there’s nothing wrong with that. :) It’s always nice to have someone to help out with the things you don’t want to do. Hah. :)

      Ugh, I hate when women are treated differently in the workplace. Women are just as capable and deserve equal pay and treatment.

  • kathy @ vodka and soda

    hmm not sure if feminist is the word for me but i believe that everyone is equal and should be treated as such.

    thanks for linking up!

    Vodka and Soda

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha. I think the belief in equality is more important than the label, so I guess you’re still okay in my book. šŸ˜‰

  • Nats ~ coraltintedperceptions

    Great post! I agree most people get feminism wrong but I am a feminist in the actual meaning because I ain’t walking my DDs around without a bra … haha

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha! I actually love walking around without a bra, but I’m not rocking DDs. :)

  • Jana @ Jana Says

    I don’t know that I’d call myself a feminist but I definitely believe in equality. Maybe I am. I don’t know. But I do know some people who are VERY strong feminists and sadly, several of them help create the stereotypes you discuss. I think people like that make it hard to reconcile traditional beliefs of a feminist versus what most are actually like.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Yes, I think people who take causes or beliefs to the extreme always give them a bad rap. But just because there are a few bad eggs doesn’t mean that the label or belief itself is bad. :) There will always be extremists, but, hopefully, people realize that not everyone is one of them.

  • Lisa

    I am a feminist. One of my favorite classes in college was Women’s Studies! At my former place of employment, I was a manager and every time I stood by a guy manager, the customer would walk past me and go directly to the guy if they had a concern. It made me so mad!!! I did feel a bit better when the guy manager had to come up and ask me what to do (in front of the customer) because he didn’t know the answer.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      I loved my Women’s Studies and Gender and Sexuality classes! They were so interesting! :) Ugh, I hate when people make assumptions about our capabilities or knowledge based merely on our gender. It’s ridiculous. But I’m so glad that you had the chance to show off in front of the customer! Haha

  • Becca @ Becoming Adorrable

    This post makes me happy.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Thanks! Your comment makes me happy. :)

  • Marielle

    Yes! It’s so sad that feminism is now something women want to distance themselves from. That “women against feminism” Facebook page (or blog?) drives me crazy. But then I think, I was one of those back in the day, and college and reading changed me. I wish women’s/gender studies courses were available in high schools or mandatory in college. It would really make a difference.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      That’s actually a great idea! I think education is a key factor in the understanding of feminism. :) Thanks for reading my post.

  • Camila

    Such a great post! I was totally one of those girls who thought that ‘feminism’ as a dirty word and then when I learned about it it was a revelation but I was still too shy to say it out loud because I didn’t want people to judge me! I mean just because people give a bad connotation to the word is reason enough to need feminism, isn’t it! No it doesn’t mean I burn my bras (to paraphrase an amazing feminist article – do you know how much those damn things cost? I’d never burn them!), perhaps on occasion I forget to shave my legs, but I certainly do not hate men. I appreciate them so much and wished they were more educated on the matter!

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Haha! Bras are too damn expensive to burn! And I must admit I’m guilty of forgetting (or avoiding) to shave my legs.

      I hope that people will actually take the time to learn the true meaning of feminism instead of relying on all the stereotypes.

  • Katie @ The Style Dunce

    Amen to all of this! I know some of the celebrities who say the ignorant things about feminism are just young, but I wish they wouldn’t say anything at all. Lady Gaga’s quote never fails to make me roll my eyes. Feminism really shouldn’t be a dirty word and it bothers me that the people who make it one don’t even know what feminism truly is.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Yes! If you don’t truly understand a concept, you should just stay silent on the matter. Misinformation is only making it much worse. I hope they will take the time to educate themselves about feminism.

  • Lani

    Love it. Your post reminded me of how we need to educate everyone on feminism and what it really means. Found you via Mariele. I’m enjoying everyone’s perspective, glad I found you, too. :)

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Thanks! I’m glad you found me too! :) This link-up was such a great idea and I’m loving everyone’s posts.

  • Lulu

    A lot of people argue that it should be called “equalism” because it is for equality between genders, and to a certain extent I agree. The patriarchy has also harmed its fair share of men – e.g. male rape victims not speaking up for fear of ridicule, internalizing everything because showing too much emotion is a sign of weakness. However, women have felt the effects of the oppression that gender inequality brings much harder, so I see nothing wrong with letting us have our name. šŸ˜‰

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      You make some great points about the male plight surrounding gender inequality. Truthfully, inequality gives both genders the shorthand of the stick. Men are too afraid to speak up about rape and depression, while women still aren’t on equal footing professionally and socially. But I agree, they should let us have our name. :) LOL

  • Callie

    I think we can all agree that equal pay for equal work is a good thing and something we should strive for, but it is the overall militant feminist ideology that I have a problem with. I do not think men and women are identical – we were meant for different things, but many feminists try to erase those differences. I also think there are some unintended consequences that resulted from extreme feminism – like creating a disadvantage for boys today (they have poorer performance in school and less are going to college), an intolerance for natural male behavior, and the casual sex culture, none of which are good for society. There are stereotypes for a reason, and the man-hating was a common characteristic of feminists in the 60’s, and even among some feminists today, though it may be more subtle – feminism has done some good, but also some harm, and I don’t think it is wise to ignore either side.

    • Eternally WanderLyn

      Hi Callie! I appreciate your thoughts on this post. :) I am curious as to what natural male behaviors your are speaking of though. Could you give examples?

      I do think we run into problems when we have extremes of anything – extreme feminism, extreme religion, extreme politics, etc. However, I don’t think it’s wise to dismiss a group based on the actions of a few extremist. I also think true feminism (not the man-hating extreme feminism) is very much needed for both genders. Boys and girl both suffer from sexism and gender inequality. While we are biologically different, we should be equal. Just as we all may look different – different skin colors, sizes, weights, races, etc. – but should be equal. Different doesn’t have to mean less than or different treatment. Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Callie

    First I just want to say that I don’t have issues with your brand of “feminism”, as far as I can tell from your post. Equality for women is important, and certainly needed in many cultures in the world even today. What I have a problem with is the 60’s brand of feminism, which was generally radical and led to some negative effects. It is so ingrained in out culture anymore that we almost don’t notice. For example, we have all seen those commercials where the men are portrayed as stupid or inferior to women. Male-bashing is prevalent. I agree that men and women should be treated equally, but 60’s feminism took it a step further and insisted that women can/should do anything men do, and I disagree with that. There are still self-proclaimed feminists that ascribe to those more radical ideologies of the 60’s, and that’s why I think it is difficult to limit the definition to just what you are suggesting – I think most people agree with your points, but that is only one aspect of it. As for natural male behaviors that aren’t tolerated, I’m talking about things like the natural desire that most men have to protect/take care of the women in their lives. There are a couple men in my family who have been scolded by feminist dates for opening doors for them, and I’ve seen men put down for stating that they wanted to make sure their wives are taken care of. I think that is sad.

    I appreciate how gracious your response was, even though we don’t necessarily agree on this. :-)