The World’s Most-Needed Rebranding: Feminist into Equalist?

Sunday morning scheming to-dos_SaraRosso

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.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. – Wikipedia

and another:

the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. —

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.

3 replies »

  1. Anyone who supports equality for women is a feminist. And what self-respecting person wouldn’t want equality for women?

    Perhaps if more of us proclaim with pride to be feminists, then the more likely we are to shake the negative connotations associated with this word. I am a feminist and my husband is a feminist (he’s even read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf which I think is impressive). Being a feminist does not mean men and women don’t get along. I think it’s the opposite. There’s a love and respect there which you can’t find if the playing field is unequal.

    • The problem is that not all people who claim to be feminists are actually feminist. There are, as I’ve seen, two kinds of feminist. The Feminist, who supports equal rights for all people, regardless of race, gender, sex, or anything else they were birthed into, and then there are “Feminists”, who believe in White cis male inferiority. Both call themselves feminists, and the former do not want to be classed in with the latter because their beliefs are opposites.

      Which is why the word “equalist” is a good idea. Feminism brings to mind the word feminine, or female, and hints at female superiority, which is where the “feminists” get their idea to call themselves feminists. If you let them keep the word feminist, let the mysoginists keep the word masculist (or menminist or whatever), and call everyone believing in full and total equality equalists, the you have 1) removed the negative connotations, 2)united people who agree, but were previously separated, and 3) brought anyone else out who wants to avoid being grouped with the mysoginists or mysandrists.

      This would also greatly weaken the sexist groups, and when you say “I’m an equalist” nobody will immediately go “ugh”. There really is no downside, apart from the time it would take to get the word out about that group.

      I hope this answered your question.

      • … and then there are “Feminists”, who believe in White cis male inferiority

        I don’t think any feminists believe in male inferiority and if they do, they are probably best ignored. Some feminists also think men should be included in the definition of feminism since they too can be harmed by sexism. See Bell Hooks.

        I don’t have any problems with the word equalist. It sounds fine to me. It’s all just semantics really. There will always be people with a broad range of views in any movement and some you will disagree with and others you will agree with. It would be a mistake to generalise an entire movement on the basis of the views of just a few with whom you disagree.

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