Women

Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

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When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said she doesn’t consider herself a feminist, I thought, “how is it possible that such an intelligent woman could say that?” To be honest, I immediately lost a certain amount of respect for her.

Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

Then I started thinking: why would she say that?

Let’s start with this: What does feminism make you think of?

Burning bras? Extremism? Hairy arm pits?
A jaded and unattractive woman in a pant suit? A beautiful women in a sundress?

Chances are you only thought of the first four. Am I right?

Now, what does feminism mean?

A movement to help women be seen, treated and respected as equals to men.

What does a feminist really look like?

Me, my husband, and all of my friends–simply because I wouldn’t be friends with someone who thinks women are second class citizens and deserve less respect than a man. Women and men in all industries, who dress well and shave their pits–or don’t! To each their own!

Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

How did we get this distorted idea of what a feminist is?

In North America, the media and advertising have traditionally been industries run by men. It’s a fact that when the male-dominated media is threatened by something (god forbid women take over and stop perpetuating unhealthy beauty ideals), they find many ways to subtly (or not-so-subtly) demonize it. It’s also a fact that the media is the most thought-altering force in humans lives.

What can we do?

If the word feminism has been dirtied by the media, we can spend our time fighting over the meaning of that word, or we can choose to describe what we believe in more accurately: The Women’s Rights Movement, or The Equal Rights Movement.

Is Feminism a Dirty Word?

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

5 Comments

  1. If feminism would work to clean its own house of extremists, it might not get so much blowback. But right now you have radfems advocating eliminating 90% of the men in the world and giving away free tampons. How is that "equality"? How am I supposed to tell my sons they need to get on board with that?

  2. I hate it when people confuse an ideology that frames all female suffering as the responsibility of all men (gender theory) with a movement toward equal access, but what can you do? Feminism has, indeed, presented itself as anti-male, anti-marriage, and anti-male sexuality for four decades, now, despite what feminists want to think everyone feels about them. Feminism has encouraged divorce, infidelity, paternal estrangement and other social ills in the name of equality, worked to stop men from organizing under our own issues and interests, and even mocks the pain and suffering as men as "ironic humor".

    You cannot separate the ideology from the actions of those who follow it. Yes, feminism IS a dirty word to millions. The fault is not with those millions for not "getting it", it's feminism's fault for not understanding what the problem is. Instead it blames "patriarchy" and "misogyny" like they were two medieval demons while blasting masculinity and men in general with every breath.

    And no, it's not that I "just don't know what feminism is". I was a Women's Studies major, and probably know more about feminism than you do. It's not a matter of ignorance . . . it's a matter of knowing too much. And what feminism is today is just . . . too much. We're rejecting it for a reason that has nothing to do with patriarchy or misogyny or rape culture. We're rejecting it because it stopped taking the happiness of men and women into account. When feminism can be used as a rationalization to attack men wholesale, is it any surprise you might get some resistance?

  3. I hate when people confuse feminism for "hating men" or whatnot. First of all, it takes a certain amount of misunderstanding to take a movement supposed to be about empowering women and making it about men. But it also delegitimizes feminist arguments, which damages the whole ideal based on the words of a few social justice extremists. Using the (relatively fewer) extremists as an excuse to disregard feminism just shows ignorance.

  4. I think there's different levels to feminism. I believe there's regular feminism and then extremist. But I guess I can be considered a feminist as well. Women aren't second class citizens, we are completely equal and capable of doing anything a man can. But in the media they place feminist as a unattractive, manly women who might be a lesbian (yes I heard stereotypes of this). But this is far from the case.

  5. Jen Spillane

    It's really refreshing to read something from this perspective. I have always felt like "feminist" should be an exceptionally inclusive term, something akin to simply being a humanist. But it seems that it's been manipulated to look like what is only a small fraction of the feminist movement. When you get right down to what feminists actually stand for, as opposed to this man-hating culture the media would like us to think is feminism, it seems like a pretty moderate point of view.

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