Ask someone on the street, any old person will do. What does a feminist look like? Here’s my guess about what someone might say.
1. Hairy armpits
4. Hates men
In fact, so many women identify with this wacky version of feminism, that they’re unsure that they actually are a modern day feminist even though they subscribe to all of the modern day feminist ideals.
Okay, here’s a prime example. A friend who wrote this lovely post for us about Rush Limbaugh originally started her discussion with this sentence: “I am not a feminist.” The paragraph following explained how she enjoyed having a door opened for her once in a while.
I wrote her back before I published the story. “After reading your post, I think you most definitely… are a feminist,” I wrote. You’re a feminist who enjoys a man opening up the door for her. The confusion here is this: A feminist has the choice to open the door on her own if she chooses. She agreed. And then she asked me to delete the sentence.
My point is this. Feminism, as an ideology, allows us to make our own choices as women on this planet. Even Sarah Palin considers herself a feminist–which, of course, she does. (Meghan Daum wrote an interesting piece on it here.) If you’re the governor of Alaska and running for vice president of the United States, then you certainly should be considered a feminist. As Daum says, I’m sure some will disagree. But I see it like this: she’s a feminist who doesn’t believe in abortion and while I don’t agree with her politics, or mostly anything at all, when it comes to women’s rights, we’re on the same page entirely. There’s no denying this.
This brings me to last Thursday’s article by Jezebel’s Lindy West who instructed doubters on their feminist beliefs. West broke things down by (hilariously so) discussing the evolution of feminism. There was the first wave of the early 1900s (Maybe we could be citizens now?) to the second wave post-WWII (Maybe you could stop raping us, please?) to the third wave current standing of sex-friendly feminists (Maybe I like rape! Shut up! Maybe I don’t! Shut up!). The post, reprinted from West’s new book How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself, makes an excellent point about feminists being feminists because we are living in the modern day of feminists, so deal with it you feminists.
Unless of course, you’re not a feminist. But if you’re reading this post, the chances are that yes, you believe women should have the same rights as men, and therefore, by default, you are indeed a feminist. So if we’re all feminists, then why do we need to keep identifying as feminists?
Katy Waldman of Double X had this to say about West’s post:
So the burden of self-definition—of breaking free from the predominant cultural norm—rests on the anti-feminists. And that seems like a great development, because we normal, everyday feminists don’t want to have to worry about putting big “I’m a feminist” stickers on our chests when we could be going to work or reading a book or taking a walk.
What she’s saying here is this. Maybe I didn’t need to prove this point to my friend. Maybe the point is already loud and clear. The truth is most women today are indeed feminists whether they like it or not, and whether they identify with the title or not. Just ask my husband. Because he identifies as a feminist.
(Image: Daniel Morrison/Flickr/Creative Commons)