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Is Feminist A Bad Word: How Feminism Isn't Just About Equal Rights

Is Feminist a Bad WordIs ‘feminist’ a bad word? While it may not be an inherently bad word, the concepts it seems to evoke when used are negative enough that many women are shying away from labeling themselves as such. In an article over at Jezebel, writer Tracey Moore breaks down how the idea of feminism may be close to being obsolete in our culture.

She writes, “…If modern, successful, interesting women, and ass-kicking young girls, are cool with equal rights but not feminism, is it worth considering refocusing of the movement or its terminology? What is lost if we don’t? What is gained if we do?”

If identifying as a feminist isn’t a big deal, then why discuss it? Like Moore writes, what is lost if we lose the word altogether and just collectively work toward a more equal society? In our society, we tend to like labels. Race, class, job titles, etc are examples of how we like to brand ourselves. It’s a way to help us alert others to the essence of who we are with the least words possible. Someone might describe themselves as a Russian college graduate, working as a chef and making a middle-class salary. Sure, that description doesn’t capture everything about a person but it gives someone else a general idea of who they are.

So the question shouldn’t be whether or not feminism and/or being a feminist is a big deal but it should be what does feminism mean in the larger context. Again, Moore from Jezebel asks, “Why do we even care anymore if women call themselves feminists or Where is feminism headednot? Is that really so essential to our goals? Are we trying to win equality, or a popularity contest for our “ism”? Is the idea to get all women to be feminists, because then everything will be righted? Can’t some of them still be ass-kickers without the title?”

Because there isn’t a single, centralized movement toward equal rights for all, the word ‘feminist’ isn’t obsolete. Unfortunately, being pro equal rights for one group of individuals doesn’t automatically equate to being for equal rights for all. Discrimination still exists and it’s quite plausible for one to be a feminist and be on the other side of the equal rights debate concerning those in the LGBT community or any other marginalized group. Being a feminist is woman-specific and woman-centered; however the movement is open to all.

What’s your take on this? Is feminism dead? Does the word ‘feminist’ have enough of a negative connotation for you not to identify with it?


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0 thoughts on “Is Feminist A Bad Word: How Feminism Isn't Just About Equal Rights

  1. Feminism started with a good idea, but like all mass movements it had to create a devil or fade away. As Eric Hoffer wrote in The True Believer, "Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil." Thus, feminism went from being about equal rights for women, to demonizing men. In the natural evolution of mass movements, the true believers were replaced by pragmatic power seekers who used the movement to promote their own agendas. In the process, it turned into a hate movement. Gender egalitarians who exposed and opposed this hate were demonized as misogynists. Some gender egalitarians, like Christina Hoff Sommers, are trying to salvage feminism, but the movement needs to be discarded before the men's rights branch of the gender egalitarian movement reaches a tipping point and turns into a hate movement, too.

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