Is ‘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 not? 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?