Is Feminist a Dirty Word?
How did this happen — and what can we do about it?
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.
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 armpits? A jaded and unattractive woman in a pant suit? A beautiful women in a sundress?
For the past century, the male-run mainstream media has tried to make the association lie with the first four, but not the fifth.
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!
How did we get this distorted idea of what a feminist is?
Put simply: the word feminism has been dirtied by the media. Media and advertising have traditionally –and continue to be– industries run by men. It’s a fact that when the male-dominated media is threatened by a movement or shift in culture, they find many ways to subtly (or not-so-subtly) demonize the movement and the people involved.
It’s a fact that the media is the most thought-altering force in humans lives.
I mean, God forbid women take over and stop perpetuating unhealthy beauty ideals, thereby threatening mainstream women’s magazine’s very business model (beauty and fashion advertisers rely on magazines and their ads to make women feel insecure and competitive with other women — it drives sales). Or what if women started demanding justice for the rampant sexual abuse these men dole out? Or the men started getting called out when ‘mansplaining’ and belittling women to make themselves feel powerful? What would happen to the ‘freedom’ that these old white men enjoy?? #SorryNotSorry
Their answer: systematically suppress ‘feminism’ by making it seem like an un-feminine, man-hating, ugly fringe movement.
What can we do?
We can fight back by making it cool to be a feminist. Wear t-shirts stating that you’re a feminist, and post it on social media. Talk about it. Educate others.
Get the men in your life to agree to call out men who are sexist. Get them to
Watch films produced by women. Watch talk shows hosted by women (I never miss Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, or The Rachel Maddow Show) and see movies directed by women.
Speak out when you notice a man being sexist. Demand justice if you were sexually abused — and don’t stop until you get an audience.
Participate in women’s rights marches — or organize them!
Stop being jealous of other women. Stop tearing other women down, and instead find ways to lift them up. Life is not a zero-sum game.
Because only if we work together, can we move onward and upward.