I’ve always been drawn to leadership roles in women’s organizations – I was president of my all-female dorm during my undergrad/university, I was President of the Women in Business network during my MBA program, I organized the Girl Geek Dinners in Milan for 3 years, and I’ve spoken often at the Professional Women in Milan and other women’s groups.
But for years I would deftly avoid being called or declaring that I was a feminist.
I’ve worn combat boots and army shirts and been called a communist; I’ve been decisive and organized and been called bossy or a nazi; I’ve been pro-woman and called a lesbian. I’ve been called other names because I may have touched a nerve in the other person and that’s how they chose to strike back to “wound” me.
Being called all of those things didn’t really bother me (none of them are true), but I didn’t really want to be called a feminist.
In an interview with Sheryl Sandberg (who I also featured in my Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success: A Manifesto post), she echoes almost exactly the same thing:
Would you describe yourself as a feminist? That word has taken a beating in recent years.
[Sheryl] Had you asked me that when I was in college, I would have said I was not. But I think we need to reclaim the “F word” if it means supporting equal opportunities for men and women. (source)
I used to be afraid of being labeled a feminist.
The reality is: I was afraid of being called a feminist, but I’ve always been one. I said I wasn’t a feminist, but I’ve always been one.
The problem with feminist is it’s no longer just a person who believes in an ideology; it’s a label. The problem with labels is they often have preconceived ideas associated with them. Somewhere along the way, the definition of feminist splintered so much that it undermined the purpose of the word. People who disagreed with or were afraid of the feminist ideology only had to further distort the meaning so that people wouldn’t want to be associated with it.
It’s not about me, a woman, better than you, a man; or us, women, vs. them, men. It’s about US. Everyone. Equality for everyone, regardless of gender (and yes, all genders…I’m a LGBT supporter).
A little handy definition of feminist:
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. – Wikipedia
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. — Dictionary.com
Equal to. Not better than.
Maybe it’s time for a rebranding. Should we re-launch Feminist as Equalist? Would it make sense then? Would anyone be proud to add it to their name then?
Or maybe we should just reclaim the “F-word” aka Feminist and reset it to its simple definition: equality of the sexes.
Are you a feminist? Be proud. Remind others what it really means. Lead by example. Don’t let others confuse the meaning to power their own agenda. Feminists are men and women. We have to talk a little louder, fight a little harder, ask for more, so that equal can start to be a reality.
If you’re not a feminist (pro-equality), you might be an anti-feminist by definition. Learn what it’s about. And listen to what it means, with an open mind, heart, and ears.
I am a feminist: I believe in equality of the sexes.
**this post has been drafted for quite a while; seeing Sheryl’s quote, the #yesallmen movement, Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech at the UN, Chuck Wendig’s post, and my friend Jessica’s post gave me the impetus to finally hit Publish.
Categories: Productivity, Self & Finance