Thursday, July 05, 2007

What is a feminist?

I have met a lot of women my age (37) and younger who say they aren't feminists. So what is your definition of feminism? I think it is women having the choice to be and do what they want for equal pay and with equal opportunity. I would also throw in that women can and should think for themselves. I am curious to hear what other women have to say about this topic. My other question is, do you have to be liberal to be a feminist? I really don't think so, but maybe I am wrong about that, just like I wrong thinking that all women were feminists.

By the way, I asked my husband about this issue. He thought it would be boring to be married to someone who was not a feminist.

All right, back to playing with my tea-dyed fabric...


The Calico Cat said...

good question... I think there are as many answers are there are people.

I don't consider myself a feminist, because I am not out proclaiming my rights to do x, y, & z.

Also (this may be an erroneous perception on my part) but I see feminists as those who do not want a man to pay for a date, open a door, be the sole source of income (where that is feasible), etc.

Yes, in my ideal world, I would be a housewife (with or without kids). But I am the bread winner, making barely enough bread for the Washington, DC market.

Rian said...

My opinion is that the word feminist might be nearly obsolete. Years ago it carried a lot of weight as women sought rights to abortion, equal pay for equal work, and equal rights in the workplace.

It was definitely a man's world 40 years ago, and there was a palpable double standard of discrimination against women. In some cases, a woman couldn't get a credit card without her husband's signature. A woman could not be in politics, or be a doctor or a CEO. Even if she did break through the "glass ceiling," she would receive much less pay for doing that job.

It would have been impossible for a woman to seek the presidency. Not just unthinkable, impossible. defines Feminism thus:

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

A feminist is a person who espouses those ideals. Liberal or conservative. Female or male. SAHM or CEO.

Fortunately, because of so-called feminists, today it is illegal to discriminate against women in the workplace and everywhere.

So being a feminist (or not) doesn't mean as much anymore IMO, because, thankfully, it's ancient history.

Granny Fran said...

Because of being a single mother (without child support) working her way through college during the early 70s I became a definite feminist. I stomped for the ERA to be passed, and failed in that battle. Even though we didn't win that one, I think we've come a long way, baby. I have to agree with Rian's comments. I am still a feminist, in that I think women should have equal rights, however, most of the feminist groups became such men haters, I am not active in any groups any longer. I am a conservative and a feminist, but it is my brand of feminism, just like I believe that each of us has our own individual relationship with God and don't have to march in a goose step with anyone else. God gives us freedom of choice and so should our government and society, for women and men.

Jane Ann said...

I'm very slow to respond to this question, although it is a good one. The concept of feminism depresses me. The biggest failures of feminism were to claim there is no difference between male and female "wiring" and to sell us women on the idea that we could (and should) do it all. I found it very hard to juggle wife/mother/career and finally concluded I could do two of those things well, but not all three. Until we stop devaluing children with lousy daycare, schools, and medical care, and continue to hold Mother responsible for everything while Dad finds his responsibilities to be optional, women will continue to be frustrated. We DID achieve a lot of what we strove for in the 60's and 70's, but there's still too large a gap. I find attitudes less enlightened now than they were then, and the prevalence of violence directed at women is alarming. And now that we can identify gender before birth (which I think is a good thing, BTW), I find sexism among young parents that stops me in my tracks. (And yes, I see it in my own daughter--which really puzzles me--because whatever faults her father may have had, he was a big feminist.)

I didn't really answer your question, "What is a feminist?" Rather, I gave you my rather cynical feminist experience. I think young women today don't feel the discrimination we felt, but they still have a lot of balls to juggle. But instead of being interested in feminist issues, they're more interested in manicures and movie stars. Yuck.

Hedgehog said...

I'm reading this way late, but wanted to quickly chime in. I can't believe how my students and my little brother's friends recoil at the word feminist. It really makes me feel a generation apart, even thought it's just twevle years. Of course things have gotten better, of course women and men are not the same, but there is still plenty of work to be done so that all people have equal rights and opportunities. I don't understand when the word feminist because synonomous with hairy-legged lesbian. I'm a straight woman who spent the weekend quilting and making jam - I even shave my legs when I remember and can imagine making the choice to stay at home with children. But I'm a feminist and I would never want to spend my life with a man who didn't call himself one, too. Maybe my brother's friends and my students are so fortunate that 'the struggle' is over for them, but it's a bit selfish of them to think it's over for everyone. Great question - nice to see how you got people thinking here!