A real conversation I had today;
"I didn't know you were a Feminist!"
"What do you mean? I thought I was always clear on my views."
"Well yeah you were, but I think the whole wanting to have kids, wanting to stay at home to raise them, cooking, enjoying baking thing kind of threw me off."
"My Mum had kids and stayed at home and cooked and everything too."
"Well I knew you were a daughter of a feminist." (My Mum does the DIY projects around the house, doesn't like to cook, and loves things like metal working and carpentry. Incidentally, so do I.)
"So why didn't you think I was a Feminist?"
"You don't fit any of the stereotypes."
"Well in college. There were two groups of people that called themselves feminists. One was the typical dyke. You know, dresses like a lesbian even though she's not, pretty cool to hang out with 'cause she's into guy stuff and likes to talk about it."
"Not all lesbians dress like that."
"Yeah I suppose."
"What about the other stereotype?"
"Dresses in skin tight clothing and then yells at guys for looking. Like this one girl, she had "Stop Looking at my Tits" written in big bold letters... stretched over her boobs. And then would yell at guys for reading the T-Shirt. She would yell at guys for looking at her butt, even though she was wearing a pink thong that everyone could see because her jeans weren't big enough to cover her butt. She kept saying that she should be able to enjoy her body without other people looking at it."
"There is a big difference between enjoying your body (and being able to wear what is practical without being harassed,) and completely disrespecting it while demanding respect from others."
"But those are just stereotypes. Being a feminist doesn't mean wanting to be a man, or hating all men. It means celebrating being a woman and have that be equal to a man, though different."
(We had to cut our conversation short here as work interrupted.)
Clearly our education has failed us, if a typically well educated, polite, kind, and respectful man cannot tell you the definition, history or purpose of feminism, or recognize a feminist when he sees one, or even recognize that he is a feminist.
Clearly our media is failing us, when crazy man haters are called feminists, and very intelligent women who actually understand equality refuse to call themselves feminists. I was one of those women. It took the birth of my beautiful baby girl to give me what I needed to call myself a feminist, and I am not alone. The feminist movement is missing out on some amazing people while the term feminism is being thrown around and tarnished by hatemongers as a means to their own end.
The word "feminazi" entering our culture is extremely unhelpful, but I think that was the point - to take a worthwhile cause and try and stop it by making it into something no one wants to be associated with. But true feminism, real equality of all kinds is still a very important goal today, and we still need to be pro-active in trying to achieve it.
So yes, I am a feminist. As tainted as feminism's image has become, I don't think it is a lost cause. Let's live our lives in a way that respects each other and ourselves, gently explaining the truth to those with questions. After all, isn't that part of what feminism is at it's core; reclaiming who you are out from under other people's preconceived notions of who you should be?