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Next Life, NO Kids: November 2014

November 16, 2014

Why I Voted to Ban The Word "feminist" in 2014

My husband asked me what I was writing this post about, and when I told him it was about the word "feminist," he asked if he would be sleeping on the couch. That is what this post is about. 

Much like my husband, the word "feminist" makes me nervous. If fills me with anxiety and puts me on the defensive. Which is crazy, right? Because I'm fairly certain it's supposed to bring me peace or something. When I hear or read the word feminist, it's usually followed by the word "attack" or "fight." These words make me uncomfortable. They alert me to the possibility of chaos and drama, and I can't feel comfortable there. The wonderful things I have learned about feminism is mostly from its history. I know that there are many rights I enjoy today because there were women willing to "fight" for them. I struggle with the way they fought and the way I see feminists fighting today. 

Today I read about topless women attacking men praying outside of a church to make their point about their right to abort, and it makes me sick. I read about celebrities being attacked online because they didn't answer the "Are you a feminist?" question correctly or decided to take their husband's last name in marriage. These are not honorable fights in my opinion, and I feel like they drag the word "feminist" through the mud. Feminism is a beautiful thing. This whole world benefits from its existence. 

There are countries where the "fight" is real, and an appropriate word. Where women are literally treated as individual property and do not have any say in what happens to their bodies. There are places in this world where rape is not rape. Although we have much more work to do in the United States, we are privileged to live in a country where we have rights to be violated. I understand how terrible that sounds, but I mean it in the most respectful way possible. 

As a child and young adult I suffered many injustices where my body was concerned. It was kept quiet because those responsible knew it was wrong, and when I grew up I had every right to press charges...because it's not legal to have sexual relationships with little girls in this country. So although I endured what I did, I know that I am lucky to reside in a country that recognizes that what happened to me was a crime. 

A month ago I watched Emma Watson's speech at the United Nations about the "HeForShe" movement, and felt inspired by her words. She made feminism seem so simple and inclusive. She wrapped it around the whole world like a warm blanket. She made the word "feminist" sound like a label anyone, man or woman, would be proud to wear, and I wanted it. If I could see more evidence of Emma's description of "feminist," I would have no problem identifying as one. But then I read more articles in my Facebook news feed about how I'm setting feminism back by choosing to take my husband's name and telling the world that he owns me. So many "feminist" blogs bashing the choices that feminism has made possible. 

By all definitions, the word “feminist” means "someone who supports feminism." I believe in and support feminism; I believe that we all have the right to be treated equally for no other reason than the fact that we breathe. I am a humanist. In my mind, there is no better than-less than. PERIOD.

I don’t like the word "feminist." 

I don’t like the reputation that seems to precede it, and I don’t appreciate how many women perpetuate the stigma with their own actions and attitudes. I don't like the icky feeling I get when I hear it; expecting to hear about how some crazed lunatic, ranting about her "feminist" beliefs, thought it smart to bring in a plate of vagina cookies to her child's elementary school. 

I feel there are many who hide behind the “feminist movement” to justify angry, hateful behavior, and ruin the word for the rest of us. I feel the word has been crucified by women who have allowed the anger of being "oppressed by men" cause them to lose control in the name of feminism. I don’t wish to identify with a group well known for man hating and/or disrespecting others’ rights to make their point. Those are the feelings that come up when I hear the word “feminist.” I don't necessarily like it, but that's how I feel. 

Because here's the thing... it is our society that sexualizes women here in the states. There are women here who agree to be plastered on magazine covers or naked inside of them for money. We, as a society, seem to encourage this behavior when women like Kim Kardashian can "break the Internet" by posing, glazed like a ham, for an inappropriate picture that goes viral. 

Regardless of the definition, I don't feel that "feminist" means just supporting equal rights for men and women. I feel like it's become more than that, and I do not buy into all the tenets of feminist-ism. I don’t love the fact that the word “feminist” seems to be a badge of honor that one either wears or gets shafted. I don’t enjoy the fact that unless I identify as a “feminist,” it’s assumed I might not believe in feminism. 

I don’t like being told what I should and shouldn’t say or do, as a woman, by feminists claiming to only have my independence in mind.

There seem to be a set of "acceptable" responses to questions regarding abortion, name changes after marriage, and gender roles, etc. If, as a woman, I use my right to choose to think outside of this box, I am judged and thought to be against feminism or weak.
This is where feminist-ism loses me. 

There was a saying where I got sober that's meant to keep members of the "club" from possibly destroying the reputation of the organization. It was suggested that I might be the only evidence someone had to base a judgment of our fellowship on. If I ran around yelling that I was a member of this group, and acting like a loon, it could give others the impression that the organization was for crazies, and deter them from seeking help and finding peace. It was made very clear that I am responsible for my behavior when being upfront about my membership for this very reason.

Recently, Time Magazine added the word "feminist" to its list of words to ban (they have since removed it with an apology),and I voted for it. 

I was not alone. 

Contrary to popular belief, I made this decision because I believe in feminism. It didn't list "feminism," it listed "feminist." I don't believe those words are necessarily synonymous. I want to claim my seat on the feminism train without having to wear that ugly word. I want to be included in this movement without the "supportive" judgment of other women. 

I want to be able to speak freely about feminism without my husband running to hide the knives. I want to feel comfortable identifying as a "feminist." I just don't want to have to "fight" and "attack" everyone who disagrees with me or think a certain way in order to fit "the mold." 

I enjoy the relationship I have with my husband and the roles we play in our home. I took his name because I wanted to be his. Not in the like “own [me] like cattle" his, but “his” in other ways that I shouldn’t have to and will not justify. I don’t care how some "feminists"
 feel about my decision. 

Thanks to feminism, it's my decision.

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