Am I a femminist?

Lately the word “femminist” has become a dirty word. This is strange, because I consider myself a femminist, yet I do not hold the “every male on earth is consciously dedicated to opressing women and we must go to extreme measures to stop that” viewpoint that people use the word “femminst” to refer to.

Here is a rundown on my beliefs.

I think sex is an important part of humanity. I think that a lot of times women get the short end of the stick (ack! bad expression) sexually. I would like women to like and understand their bodies more, and become more empowered sexually. I find it very sad that so many females do not like their bodies and are unable to have satisfying sex. I hate the idea that sex is something that men always want and women grudgeingly give up…women should want sex,too! And having sex should be a positive thing- not an experience of “going through” or “giving up” something. They should have the option of being sexually adventureous and having those be a postive experience in their life. That said, I don’t think that women should act unethically sexually, and seek out men with predatory intent.

I am cool with make-up, dressing nicely and dressing provacatively, as long as they bring personal joy to the person doing that. However, I don’t think anyone should dress for other people, or for the specific purpose of being attractive to the opposite sex. Dress how you like it, not how other like you. I also think that one should avoid expensive, painful, or impractical alterations to one’s appearence. This means one should wear shoes one can walk in, not get plastic surgery in most cases, and that sort of thing. The sheer impractically of most women’s clothing bugs me, as do rail-thin women who are not naturally rail-thin.

I think rape is a major problem and is an act of terrorism. The havoc it wreaks in our lives is so subtle that many do not notice it is there, but the threat of sexual violence looms over women’s lives and decisions. Women are in a state of seige and are unable to dress, travel and live freely without the very real threat of violence and humiliation.

I think the media portrays women badly. But I also think the media is a lost cause, and do not seek to force it to change.

I have no problem with pornography, and I wish their was more of it that was aimed towards women, and that they could enjoy it more.

I think that women face a lot more problems in the workplace than men. Their choices of fields is often limited (a de facto limitation created from societal expectations) and it is harder for them to get ahead.

I think females often feel a sense of “otherness”, as if males are the standard and women are a deviation. For example, their are few female musicians, and the ones that exist are always considered “female” first- and all their other attributes come after that. I think that “he” as a generic pronound enforces that sense of otherness, and it bugs me. I could think of a million other situations where my femaleness has made me feel “different” and a little uncomfortable, like I don’t belong.

Spending your time raising children is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your time. Sitting on your ass is not. I don’t think women are either obligated to be a “house wife” nor do I think that they should never be “house wives”. I think they should strive to live a meaningful life- one that is personally satisfing and one that helps the world as a whole. I think men also fall under that obligation, and a man stuck in a terrible job to support his family is in as bad of a spot as a women stuck being a housewife who wishes to do something else.

So am I a “femmist”? am I a “femminazi” (lord that term bugs me!)? Is my femminism out of line? Do I hate males (I don’t think I do)? I need to know!

Lately the word “femminist” has become a dirty word.

It has not actually become a dirty word, you are simply experiencing the usual effects of the election of a reactionary president. Back in the early 80’s they tried very hard to make the word “liberal” a dirty word. It didn’t stick; and as a result, the nation enjoyed eight years of economic prosperity. I expect that this time, after the anti-democratic shenanagins they employed to sieze power, that the word “feminist” will quickly be restored to its’ former glory and instead the word “republican” will be muttered in the same breath with all sorts of words that only show up as asterisks on decent public forums.

What is your position on abortion? Do you think that there should ever be any restrictions on any woman seeking an abortion?
What constitutes sexual harrasment? What should be done about it?
How do you feel about comparable worth legislation? What should the government role be in ensuring the gender pay equity?
Answering these questions would help to understand if you are a feminist.

Why do you need a label?

I’ve never considered myself a feminist because I choose not to carry that banner around, which puts me at risk of being “lumped in” or “generalized”. I don’t consider myself a republican or democrat either, or a yuppie, or a pro lifer. I’m just a woman who’s trying to make it a better world for both women AND men by working for causes I believe in, expressing myself freely and being proud of my accomplishments.

I saw an article in People magazine the other day about a male designer who has created a line of t-shirts which are described as “boy bashing”. The slogans, in silver glitter and fun script say: “BOYS LIE” or “BOYS CHEAT” and they showed all these girls wearing them. The designer was asked whether he would create shirts for boys that said “GIRLS LIE” and he said no, because women wouldn’t understand it was a joke. It was the saddest thing I’d ever read.

One of the things I’m most proud of is being a strong, educated, hard working, married woman with a huge sense of humor and great relationships with men and women of all beliefs. I don’t want a label for it, I’ll just use my name.


Labels are useful. You can’t easily draw attention to a specific concern you share in common with others without labeling it and identifying yourselves collectively as those thusly concerned. It is the right to say “we”.

Nevertheless, labels are tricky. In the nastier applications of rhetoric, people do sneaky things with them. For example, suppose Pat Buchanan were to state that he is a “real conservative” and that, oh, let’s say, Trent Lott, for instance, is NOT a real conservative insofar as his views do not overlap here and also here and again there with those of Mr Real Conservative Pat Buchanan. If you wanted to argue against this assertion, you might start off arguing about the meaning of the word “conservative”, but would soon discover that the real argument is: who gets to say what the word “conservative” means? Now, as long as the media and/or the general public tend to share an idea about who conseratives in general are, there are limits to how far anyone can seize and steal the label and change its meaning.

Now, on to “feminism” and “feminist”, which are words that have been hijacked far more often and with far sleazier intentions. On the one hand, the media has often reported on the most lurid and sensational of claims and otherwise participated in making feminist beliefs and politics and theories seem OUT THERE and TOO MUCH. (Back when the ERA was still a candidate for ratification, many US citizens were misled into believing that the bill would impose unisex public toilets, for instance, and surprisingly few ever saw the simple straightforward text of the bill; but it seems like everyone in North America knows all about how the far murkier MacKinnon-Dworkin ordinance proposal would take away freedom of speech and ban all girlie magazines). On the flip side, an individual named Camille Paglia declared herself to be a feminist one day and has spent most of her time since then disparaging every other feminist, and the movement as a whole, and she is given significant media attention (a feminist saying critical things about other feminists! ooh, newsworthy!) despite the fact that Paglia is a “feminist” about like Ted Kennedy is a “conservative”. But because the media and the general public do not seem to share a solid sense of “what is a feminist” to the same degree that they think they know “what is a conservative”, she gets away with it.

I think, based on what you said in your OP, your views have enough in common with those of feminists in general for it to make sense to call yourself a feminist. You could safely assume you’d find a lot of kindred spirits if you sought out others who embrace the label.

It makes more sense than wandering around saying “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then reciting a litany of essentially feminist beliefs and perspectives!

I don’t think you’re a feminist any more than I am. I’m just trying to be a person living the life that I want to live, the way I want to live it. I don’t accept the label “feminist” for myself; I prefer to call myself a “woman” and leave it at that. That said, I am very aware that women still have a LONG way to go to live a life comparable to men’s.

“I think females often feel a sense of “otherness”, as if males are the standard and women are a deviation” (quote from even sven in OP)

Yesterday, I was talking with my SO and asked him if he ever wanted to be a woman. His answer was a quick and emphatic “No.” Now, this guy is a wonderful man (sensitive, caring, and very loving), and even he feels (sub-consciously) that it would be a step down for him to be female. We still have a long way to go, baby.

Well, I think Steve Martin (I think) said it best when he said he wouldn’t want to be a woman because he’d just sit at home and play with his breasts all day. :slight_smile:


[hijack] I think that line was from L.A. Story. It seems like most guys think the perfect body would be one with breasts and a penis. Then no one would get any work done :slight_smile: [/hijack]

or not…

I’m a little shocked by all the reverse sexism in the media today. There are plenty of ads around where men are taken advantage of by women, and it’s supposed to be funny.

Take the next ad you see like that one, and switch the roles of the actor and actress, and you’ll have an ad unacceptable for a viewing audiance.

I don’t agree. Here’s another thread in which that specific subtopic is being debated. (I’ve already offered my opinion there).

A feminist believes in the rights, goals, laws, ideals, futures & hopes of women. A subtlety perhaps lacking a bit in your description.

I’m guessing that Phyllis Schlafley would think that she believes in the “rights, goals, laws, ideals, future & hopes” of women…I don’t that she would consider herself a feminist though…

Well even sven, I agree with everything in your OP, and I have no problem calling myself a feminist. I consider it to be handing the Schafleys of this world a moral victory to accept their meaning of “feminism” - why should the people who oppose it on every level get to define it?

As someone smart said, if you’re a woman, you’re either a feminist or a masochist.

fem•i•nism "fe-me-'ni-zem\ noun (1895)
1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
fem•i•nist -nist\ noun or adjective
fem•i•nis•tic 'fe-me-"nis-tik\ adjective

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

This definition (which I would agree with, btw) seems different from your earlier post…specifically the reference to “equality of the sexes”, something I think the Phyllis Schlafleys of the world would not necessarily be interested in…

Well, it’s quotes like this one that are a big reason why I will not call myself a feminist. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted it, and no offense to you Ruadh. I don’t want to ruffle feathers since I’ve only been here a short time and I DO agree with a lot of the OP as well.

I flat out refuse to associate myself with any organization which views itself as “us vs. the world” “We good…everyone who isn’t us, hates us”. This is why I don’t get into political parties at all, rather judge each candidates individually.

I think that a lot of “feminists” or “people who aren’t feminists BUT” have lost the whole sense of the word which was defined for us by Handy (thanks). IT’S THE EQUALITY OF THE SEXES. It’s EQUAL rights for EVERYBODY.

There’s nothing I hate more than hearing women sit around and bitch about how much men suck at everything they do and THAT’S comedy gold, but let one man make one blonde joke, and they’re sickened.

Everyone’s out to screw the women! Everyone’s out to keep us down, to objectify us, to make us their slave (sigh, I wish)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called a “BAD FEMINISIT” because I:

a) am a sexual submissive
b) like porn
c) like being married
d) took my husband’s last name
e) didn’t vote for << insert name here >>

I’m tired of it! really tired of it! I’m a 28 year old, college educated, well employed, married, happy, fun loving woman who loves men, women, children, beer, porn, football, makeup and butter! I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and now that I’m here, I work hard to make sure everyone else in the world (MEN included) can acheive what they want, and I do it with a minimum of bitterness.

this rant is too long. I’m sorry. it’s a touchy subject with me and I never should have jumped in.


“This definition (which I would agree with, btw)”

Which one? There were two. One agrees with mine & the other one is so-so on agreement.

If that’s your interpretation, then yes, you are misinterpreting it. There’s no “us v. them” in that quote. It’s just a (very simplistic, obviously) way of saying that a feminist is simply anyone who believes that women shouldn’t have to suffer just for being women.

Well that’s the whole point. If you believe that feminism is about equality, then don’t deny you’re a feminist just because some other people think it’s about something else. Otherwise you’re just contributing to the whole sense of the word being lost.

I apologize then. I read it as “If you’re not a feminist, you’re someone who’s being abused by the dominant male culture.”

I still don’t want to “call myself a feminist” because I don’t call myself ANYTHING except my name. Labels, while sometimes a good way to identify with others, are also a good way for others to generalize you and perhaps discriminate against you “oh, she’s a conservative (feminist, christian, vegetarian, juggler)”

anyway, sorry for the misinterpretation.