While a feminist defined is simply a person who believes in equal rights and opportunities for men and for women, the term has gained an alternative definition that comes with negative connotation. Feminists are referred to as “man-haters” or “femi-nazis,” both derogatory terms that associate women with discriminating against men.
“Curious to what you all think when you hear the word Feminist?” one FGB'er wrote to the Community.
“I personally like the idea of empowering women and that they are treated equally. I'm all for it! The word often makes me nervous too because I feel you are judged or looked at differently if you say you're a feminist. I don't want to be judged; I just want to help women. What are your thoughts? How would you deal with a poor reaction or less than positive reaction when using the word?,” she continued.
Several other FGB women responded to offer their own views and beliefs on feminism.
“I am supportive of the goals of feminism to achieve political, economic, and personal equality of the sexes, but I don’t identify myself as a ‘feminist,’” one woman wrote. “For me, it’s because the leaders of the feminist movement when I was growing up struck me as intolerant and even abusive, not only towards men but to women who wanted to be stay-at-home moms. A thoughtful well-reasoned approach to equality garners my support.”
“I like the definition I've heard: ‘Feminism is the radical notion that women are people,’” another woman wrote. “Which I think is a great response if you ever get pushback for the term. I get that it's been problematic in the past and from people misusing the word, but I also feel like I shouldn't have to give up the word just because some people are wrongheaded about it. I want to reclaim it! My version of feminism is not anti-male but anti-patriarchy. I don't think that should be controversial!”
“It's less of a taboo term than it once was, but at times it does still unfortunately inspire pushback,” a third woman wrote. “However, I actually find that quite helpful in vetting the ideology of the person I'm speaking to — for instance, on a date, it's immediately a red flag to me if someone reacts less than positively to the word! (Now I live in New York, but where I'm from in the South.... many a red flag was raised).”
In truly divisive times, it is important to remember and stress the original definition of feminist — one which is solely about achieving equality.
Equal treatment in society. Equal pay at work. Equal opportunities in education and in society. And most importantly, emphasizing the choice of all women for what they want in life and supporting each woman and her choice — whether that choice involves a career or a family or both.
“I am a proud feminist and, personally, I embrace the term AND the controversy that goes with it,” one FGB’er wrote.
“Like other above me have said, ‘feminism’ at its core merely postulates that the sexes deserve equal rights. It's not about women being better than men or ‘wanting equal rights without equal responsibility.’ When I get pushback on the term, I try to use it as an opportunity to enlighten people, and disentangle their misconceptions. I can get people to accept the fact that there are zealots under every ideology, but you can't judge a whole group based on the few. If we can't reach this kind of agreement then I can pretty well determine that this is not an individual with whom I will get along as our ideologies are probably radically different, so I can modify my behavior accordingly.”
If you have your own question regarding feminism, the workplace, family, or relationships, reach out to the FGB Community to receive advice from other FGB'ers.