part one: the F word

Blog Against Sexism Day

The past several years I’ve had roughly 1,572 encounters with women, usually younger than I am, who have said/written/expressed, “I’m not a feminist.” After I hear that, my blood pressure shoots up and my voice gets screechy and I get dizzy and have to deep breathing because I am so mad I want/need to scream. I can’t decide if I want to scream at this girl/woman or at the rest of the world. I can’t figure out how a person comes to that conclusion. Not too long ago I read a reference to feminists defined as women who hate p0rnography. What? Every time I hear a girl say that I think of Tinkerbell (clap your hands. Say you do believe in fairies feminists)and some hopeful piece of me wants to die in a tiny way.

When my senses return and I find a zen, reflective place and listen to these young women, it seems that we have a youth culture who have bought the “feminazi” paradigm hook, line, and sinker. It is not cool or sexy or normal to be feminist. Feminists hate men. They hate other women too if they are wearing too little clothing, or do not share in the angry orgy of man hating. I am a naïve thing, because I really thought no one bought that backlash bullshit- least of all girls brought up in this generation. I thought each daughter would be a stronger and more powerful woman than her mother. I thought our moms and dads worked way too hard for us to be where we are now. I am really angry on their behalf that girls are so ungrateful and unwilling to keep fighting/writing/loving/screaming/blogging for our own power. We should be dancin’ and hollerin’ with joy that we have the luxury of taking feminism for granted.

The root of the issue, and arguably every conflict I can think of, is binary oppositional thinking. We have got, as a culture, to embrace holistic and inclusive thought. Feminism is a fluid, living ideal. The whole point was to eradicate strictures about women’s roles but so many people are buying into new ones. Feminists can be angry and joyful, beautiful and strong, sexy and intelligent, gay and straight and bi and transgendered, and I could keep going but listen: a feminist is a girl, woman, boy, man, human thinking being who does not believe that any gender is inferior to any other gender or that one’s sex at birth or by choice can determine the path of her/his life.

Arguing over semantics is ridiculous and divisive. Feminism is, by its essential nature, not a single-definition thing. And why should it be? Celebrate your own feminist spirit today. Delight in the anima and do something that makes you feel beautiful, or grab a marker and make an activist T-shirt. Write a letter to your Congressperson or refuse to do the dishes unless your brother/dad/husband does the ironing. Do some little thing. My feminism today is gratitude for a free and expansive outlet for my thoughts, and the promise of a warm, quiet bath with my nursling daughter.

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