Feminism is NOT a Bad Word


fem·i·nist  [fem-uh-nist] adjective 
1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

When my son’s AP U.S. History teacher asked his students last year how many of them were feminists, do you know how many hands went up in the class?


I am proud to say it was my son’s. Not one girl in that entire class thought of herself as a feminist. My heart sank when he told me. Not one female.

Feminism has somehow become a bad word. “Feminists” allegedly tried to ruin the traditional family back when I was a child. How dare women want to be something else other than mothers and wives! Don’t they know a woman’s place is in the home?

In her February 8 column, bane of existence Phyllis Schlafly wrote the following.

“The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 2 on a straight party-line vote. That proves again that the feminists control the Democratic Party, and also is a refreshing indication that Republicans are no longer intimidated by feminist demands.”

Yes, it is a terrible thing to protect women from domestic violence. Schlafly goes on to pose the question on every woman’s mind who has been beaten so badly she cannot move — what about the man? Who is advocating for men’s rights?

Feminism has been continuously criticized and vilified for years by misogynist Rush Limbaugh, who has insisted on calling us “feminazis.” And now, he is at it again on a grand scale with his comments about Sandra Fluke. Although he issued a lame “apology” because his show was losing advertisers, I don’t buy it.

Why is it that a woman who testifies that contraception is a necessity for women’s healthcare and should be covered by health insurance fodder for his insanity? A slut and a prostitute? Really?

What kind of person says this? “If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.'"

Take a minute to absorb what he said. Wow.

Feminism is a good thing. It is the reason we have the choices available to us today.

March is National Women’s History Month. Periodically, I will be posting about the lives of some of the founding mothers, women who boldly forged the path we continue today.

Lest we forget.


Kelly Hashway said…
I think a lot of people think feminism refers to women who hate men. It really doesn't at all. But that's the way society has shifted the meaning of the word. I wish that would go away so we can remember what it truly means.
Kae said…
Great post, Karen.
Thank you!
angel011 said…
Many people have no idea what feminism is, so they make up some explanation of the word which has nothing to do with the facts.

As for that idiot, well, he's an idiot. Unfortunately, a loud one, and with the audience less educated than he is, as hard as it is to imagine.
Nadine Feldman said…
Brava! We need to reclaim feminism as the positive that it is, and your post speaks powerfully to that.

We need to educate our young women about the feminist movement and all the advances it gave us. We cannot lose sight of history and allow those gains to be lost. We also need to vote and get active in politics at all levels -- men should not be speaking for us!
HelenQP said…
Why isn't feminism discussed in history and literature classes in schools? Is it "controversial"? Is it taken for granted that kids understand it?
John Wiswell said…
Feminism is a broad umbrella under which a lot of different people stand. To some it is the pursuit of compassionate equality. To some it is a dogma fighting against a singular ideological patriarchy. To the three adult feminists who refused to let me enter a meeting when I was fourteen because I was male, it meant something other than what you're arguing. I can understand why you wouldn't necessarily raise your hand and declare yourself a feminist when you did otherwise believe in equality. It's why I generally call myself an egalitarian. No sex, gender or race is better or more deserving of treatment than another in my heart. My emotions and supports are generally in line with most of the feminists I know, such as encouragement for VAWA. I'd like the whole school of thought to be clarified, but I think the larger it gets, the muddier its definition will be, and the easier for obnoxious extremists to be perceived as indicative of the whole.
R. Doug Wicker said…
I've been watching with fascination the past few days as both Mr. Limbaugh and his more rabid defenders decry a so-called "double standard" that they perceive applies to him.

I agree. There is a double-standard. If Don Imus or any of a hundred other radio hosts had said the same thing, they'd be out of a job. But when you bring in $114 million annually in advertising revenue, your stations look the other way and just hope it all blows over quickly. THAT's the double standard being applied here, and it's pathetic.
Anonymous said…
Many people view feminism as this extreme political view, which it really isn't. I don't think any of my friends would say they are feminists, although I would classify them as such. I don't understand that extremist point of view. Isn't any woman who wants to take charge of her own life a feminist?

- Chelsea


Congratulations on raising a wonderful son.
Beverly Diehl said…
I second the congrats on raising a great son.

We women (and egalitarian-thinking men) need to reclaim the word feminist, and refuse to let it mean a whole of things it doesn't.

Feminism = Equal rights. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Rena J. Traxel said…
Feminism benefits both men and women and having contraceptives benefits both men and women! Ugh...
Fi said…
Great post. I consider myself a feminist in that I believe in equality of rights. As mum to a daughter and a son, I think it's important to have respect for both sexes, expect equality but also celebrate our differences.

Thanks for sharing and well done to your son.
Amanda said…
What a great article! This is why I work to educate young women through my website www.flurtsite.com Please feel free to check it out!
Wow--Thank you very much to everyone who read this post and especially to all of you who commented here.

A few specific responses...

John, I am really sorry those women barred you from their meeting. It was wrong. Being an egalitarian is a wonderful idea, one which I believe in as well. Feminism is not about being better than man, but being treated as equals.

R. Doug, you bring up a great point about the role of money in all of this.

Amanda, I visited your site. It's great. Thank you for sharing it, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

To all the ladies, thank you for echoing the point that we all must embrace feminism for what it is meant to be, not the bastardized and completely incorrect definition.

Last, I really appreciate all of your comments about my son. Yes, I am exceedingly proud of him.
Anonymous said…
As a high school student right now I have to say that we are all feminist's, but we are so much so that it never crossed our minds that anyone could not believe that women are not as capable as men. It was not until i learned how hard that women had to work to get rights that I understood just how much work went into this. but this is exactly what past women wanted.
Thank you for your comment, Kendall. I would think by this time, everyone WOULD be feminists, but, unfortunately, that is not the case.

Thanks for reading.
I'm starting a group for Feminist Romance on Goodreads and wanted to know if I could use your awesome image (with the radical notion line) as the group's logo, with a credit link back to this excellent post in the description.

The group is here if you need to check it first: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/75260-feminist-romance
kamil kukowski said…
I'm sorry if my opinion may be offensive, but it's a fact that women, feminist ones have it harder in life. But I would also like to point out how wrong it is. Every time a woman is ostricised in her carear and forced to choose between family and success it's a point scored for the destrucion of mankind; it's one cure for an incurable disease that gets denied, one scientific research that won't be accomplished, (and I could keep going on on for hours) Feminism is just a word, it doesn't bite, it's not poisonous nor will it taint anyone's soul. And it's not eaven harmfull to the ear.
Kimberly, I'll send you an email regarding the image.

Kamil, you are correct. It is a more difficult life, but it is also a full one, right?

Thanks for reading.
kamil kukowski said…
i'm sorry but it took me some time to realise what i'm reading:

"If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

it's a clear interest in a woman's sexual life ( and while it'might be a remark slightly acceptable between close friends where the limits are known) in this case it is sexual harassment in it's undeniable form. and corect me if I'm wtong but the USA law is against sexual harassement, or I time traveled to the XVIII century
Exactly, Kamil.

The talk radio host who said this was completely out of line. I thought I had time traveled as well, back to the days of my youth...

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