marytkelly

I've Got Issues...And Peace

marytkelly

marytkelly
Location
Boulder, Colorado,
Birthday
October 22
Bio
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell

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JUNE 19, 2009 10:54AM

What the Hell is a Feminist?

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angry woman

(Is this what you think of when you hear the word "Feminist"?) 

I was a late bloomer.  When I was a sophomore in high school, I was the second shortest girl in my class.  I was classic “skin and bones” despite an appetite like a high school defensive back.  I got my driver’s license before I had the need for “feminine products” and I grew two inches my freshman year in college.  My older sisters were into makeup and boys.  I was into playing in the woods and getting as dirty as possible.  

Sexism was an unconscious theme in my family.  My mother and father had a very traditional marriage.  My father would come home from the jungles of New York City to the wooded safety and shelter of a home nestled on seven acres.

My mother, half an hour before his arrival would run upstairs, change and put on “fresh makeup” and a nice little dress.  The first thirty minutes he was home was their time.  No children allowed.  I would hear them talking softly, laughing occasionally as they sipped on their gin and tonics and talked about the day.

My mother was a regular Donna Reed.

My father hid his disappointment well upon the arrival of each one of his daughters, all five of them.  We didn’t notice the strong desire he had to have a son until our brother was born.  My father couldn’t hide his overwhelming pride and joy at finally having a son and everyone in the family treated the boy like a King.

It became apparent to me after Rich was born that there was something about being a girl that made me a little “less than”.  Rich would now be able to carry on the family name.  I always wondered why I couldn’t.

Although my parents endowed us with good private school college prep educations, the motivation came more from their priority to give us a thorough religious training.  The academic part was secondary and when it came time for me to go to college, I was sitting in the kitchen of our home…the home with the swimming pool and the 3-car garage that was the container to my father’s pride and joy Mercedes Benz.  In that kitchen,  I was told they didn’t have the money to send me to college.

Huh? 

College tuition at the time was $1500 a year…this included room, board, tuition and books.  Two days before, my mother had been surprised by my father with a full-length fur coat (a must when living in Marin County, California), a coat that cost exactly $1500.

I made the one and only bold and angry confrontation to my parents I would ever make.

“That fur coat could have paid for my first year of college.”

My father was furious at me for questioning how he spent his hard earned money.  My mother shook her head and put her finger up on her mouth to “shhhhssssh” me as my father stormed out of the room.

“Mary, why go to college?  You’re just going to end up getting married and your husband will provide for you.”

No thanks.  I took out student loans and got jobs and paid my way through college.  When my brothers followed my lead some years later, they weren’t allowed to contribute a dime.

I took pride in my accomplishment but old patterns run deep.  It had been engrained in me that being a woman was “less than”…a low cloud that remained over my head for years, especially when I  gave my mind over to the clutches of born-again Christianity and listened to countless sermons about the benefits of being “submissive” to men.

Despite a college education I paid for myself, I sank back into the comfort and familiarity of the message of my parents and my new found evangelical friends.

While I was growing up, feminists were mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore.  Equal pay and equal treatment were being demanded.  Women like Gloria Steinem, Betty Freidan, and Jane Fonda were paving the way for women to receive the same benefits as their male counterparts.  

Anytime any of these progressive and brave women came on the Phil Donahue Show, my mother would scrunch her nose in disdain and the message was loud and clear, “Those women are not lady like!”

Years later, I would continue to watch these women on Oprah and listen to them while sitting on my calico-fabric couch, nursing one of my children, feeling the stirrings of desire FOR MORE churning inside me.

And once again I was a late bloomer, as I didn't find feminism fully until my mid-30's, decades after the beginning of the Women's Movement.

Feminism became for me, not a dirty word, but a metaphor for freedom.  With four small children at home, I began to shift.  

Here it is, twenty some years later, and there is still not equal pay for equal work between men and women.  It is estimated that it will take until 2050 for this to happen. That's almost 100 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, prohibiting discrimination based on sex resulting in unequal pay for equal work.

My definition of a feminist has evolved into something very simple:

“A human being (doesn’t matter what gender, age, race, cultural or sexual orientation) who advocates and believes in equality for women".

I’ve noticed lately comments made by my children, their friends, my friend’s children, my younger clients, students at the University of Colorado, Boulder…in short, the late teen, 20-something year olds I have the good fortune of keeping company with from time to time.

With a feeling of incredulous surprise, I’ve come to realize that to many of these young adults, the word “feminist” is a dirty one.

What is going on here?  These young adults have parents, mothers and fathers with Master’s Degrees, Ph.D.’s, law degrees, teaching degrees, science degrees and MBA’s.  Mothers who worked outside of the home raised many.

I asked some of them two simple questions and here's a condensation of their responses: 

 1.    What is your immediate “gut” response to the word “feminist”?

 --Angry women.

 --Bitches.

 --Butch, gross.

OUCH! 

 2.    What does “feminism” mean to you?

 --“What I am supposed to think: Someone who supports equal rights for women.  What I really think: Someone (usually a women but there are a lot of men as well) who supports equal rights when it comes to things that benefit women and never when it comes to things that don't, i.e. the draft, alimony, child custody etc.

Feminism to me is a silly (or at least archaic) word.  It’s like having black or white pride.  It just makes no sense to me.  What I can't have pride in the achievements of black men or women because I don't fit into that category? While at the same time I would be considered a racist if I took pride in John Kennedy if I based it purely upon the fact that we share a similar skin tone?   You can be proud of people or movements but the more you divide yourself into sub-categories, the more likely you are to create isolation and exclusion.

Obviously I see the mistreatment of women, especially in Islamic countries, as horrible as that is, but I think it would be more productive and turn less people off if it was seen as a human rights issue instead of women's rights issue".

 --“Feisty women that feel underestimated by men and feel the need to stand up for their gender".

 --Bitter women who have nothing better to do with their time."

WTH? 

My own children, two daughters included, were scrunching their noses when I brought up the word “feminist”. 

HOW COULD THIS BE?  Am I the only one worried about this?  I asked several well-educated women friends recently the same questions with the same result!  Again...the scrunched up nose when hearing the word "Feminist"!  What is going on here? 

Women, especially minority women, have not achieved equality.  Recently, in over-educated Boulder County, domestic violence TOWARDS WOMEN has been on the increase, blamed on the stress and strains of the recession.

In my practice, repression knows no gender, racial, age, sexual orientation, or cultural difference.  Repression causes suffering to those who are consumed by it and victimized by it.   But power differences are highlighted in couple’s counseling, as abdication is something I witness on a daily basis more by my female clients than my male ones. 

My children are getting a crash course in Feminism 101.  And I hope you consider doing the same for yours.

It’s not that I don’t care what you think a feminist is.  It's just that I really care what your children think.  This is not a battle that has been won by a long shot.

You’ve come a long way baby, but you’ve still got a long ways to go.

 

 

 

      

 

 

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Great post, Mary! (Kidding--I haven't read it yet but wanted to be the first on an mtk post)
Fair points. Militancy does not help anymore. That is the challenge when "movements" transition from being out on the fringe to being more mainstream and co-opted. Barbara Boxer dressing down an Army General for addressing her as "ma'am" is the kind of stuff that backfires.
damn. lainey beat me. DAMN YOU LAINEY.
Great post, Mary ... and HA! Lainey ... I even read it :) haha

OK - since you put your cards on the table, I just asked my daughter the same question. First I got a "what the hell?" look and then after some thought she says, "a woman with an agenda". I guess I looked surprised or concerned ... so she elaborated, "you know ... like feminist agenda", gave me another strage look and walked off.

??? time for that crash course!!!
Thankfully my sons have a grandmother whose feminist spirit was instilled in her daughter, their mother, and taught them that equality goes hand in hand with life. They share their father's belief and life's actions on this regard. The Donna Reeds and June Cleavers have been relegated to outdated TV re-runs.
OK, I'm back, and apparently I wasn't kidding--this is a great post :)

First, I am always a little shocked at the sorts of blatantly sexist policies like paying for sons' but not daughters' educations. It's funny b/c I was raised by two lovely people who happen to be Rush-loving right wingers. But there was never this sort of obvious sexism going on. There were 5 girls and 3 boys and although my dad spent an inordinate amount of time with one of my brothers and his baseball "career"--the brother we all teasingly called The Golden Boy--he was really no more solicitous of the other two brothers than any of us girls. And he was WAY into pushing engineering degrees on all the girls, so much so that I was sort of a disappointment for wanting something so unmarketable as English. The point being that even in some religious (we all went to Catholic schools too and some of us even on to Catholic universities) and conservative homes there was an unconscious thread of feminism (thank you Gloria and others who permeated the culture enough for that to happen).

The other thing I wanted to say is that I'm not as worried as you about young people's reaction to the word "feminism." It's just a word, after all. In other words, if their sentiments are in the right place--wanting equality for all, including women--then they are feminists, whether they realize it or not. It's like how the word "liberal" was demonized so many of us just picked up "progressive" and moved on. It's the policies that count, not the semantics. In some ways, this nose wrinkling at the word "feminism" is no more troubling than at their rejection of whatever icons or styles were favored by their parents. What matters is that they actually think women should be equal in all respects. I think in some ways they are the living embodiment of it.

If they are not aware of the ways in which women still don't own their bodies (see Dana's recent excellent post) or get equal pay, then that is a problem, of course. They need to be educated about that just as much as about the neglect of the starving in Darfur or the refugees from Iraq. There's something "sexy" about adopting the causes of the people from these other places, and while of course those people need every ounce of attention they can get, young Americans should also see the needs of women--as a group--as equally urgent.
Feminism IS not lady-like.

Lady is a term to describe the chattal of a prince or a knight, a person who's sole existence is to carry on the genetic material of the king or knight. She is a passive creature, often essentially bought and sold to maintain property values and political alliances.

Lady Diana, a modern woman, didn't really care for it, and it was the biggest baddest prize of all for the women reared in the proper conservative 50's and 60's .


In the terms of romantic chivalry, it still has a personal appeal. Who wouldn't want knight in shining armor to come rescue you from the cinderella dregs of work and menial servitude? Only it has its own chains, shinier, more expensive, very very heavy to wear all day every day for your whole life.

We have let our hair down, like rapunzel, and now we are walking around outside the tower. The wicked witches that put us their are our mothers that needed the financial and social security to breed because that was inevitable.

Since that is no longer the case, we have options. Note that in parts of the world where birth control is not an option, the case for women's rights declines directly.

Feninists are womenthat understand the above analogies and are not ready to shut up and sing.

It makes me sad that when I got pregnant, I wished for a boy even though my husband would have loved a little princess to spoil and dote over. I wished it because being a woman in America and most of the rest of the world, can totally suck. And I knew a real change would not happen in a girl of mine's lifetime.

Can't believe I just said that out loud, but maybe some of the new generation of girls can hear it, learn it, and do something about it.

I have worked hard and am successful in a field dominated by men. I have done my part, carried my load. I will continue to do so, but I will absolutely rage against the machine that is perpetuated sexism.

I do not want to be a lady.
Great post Mary. I think we should resist using the word feminist, but rather be a human rights activist because the fight for equality of women is a human rights issue, but we should not be blinded by any other form of inequality--this includes discrimination against the disabled, homophobia, abortion rights, etc. I suppose there's nothing wrong with joining a lobby group, or a group that specifically advocates a particular cause, but to give oneself a label does not help either as your daughter's view of feminism clearly points out.
I just look at photos.
Men too have lost the way?
Humans have truly gone astray.
People have fallen from grace trees.
IF folks ever find a Place to smooch?
yippee!
Then, maybe humankind will depart?
I mean:`leave impenetrable darkness!
Hey! Ya were born on Oct 22nd? Aye!
AMEN!! Hallelujah! I didn't have the same obstacles as you; I grew up with feminism as a core principle in my home, even though it didn't often play out perfectly. My mother still took over the second shift entirely and did most of the childcare. But they tried. And I observed.

Feminism has, and is, evolving. I'm concerned about the way the word has become demonized, largely because of the history associated with it. When you scrunch your nose at feminism, do you scrunch your nose at what it accomplished? Do you diminish its accomplishments because you're convinced only angry bitchy butch women are feminists?

I'm a feminist, and I'm damn proud of it. I stand for equal rights for men and women, I'm an ally (when I can be) for the GLBTQ and womanism movements. I care about human rights. These things are all encompassed by the third wave feminism movement.

@Gwool, militancy is required when ladylike calm and good manners are ignored.
I know this may have little bearing on your post here today, but that slogan in your banner? It really, really speaks to me. So much, I've cited it to a folks beyond OS already.

This post is rated. Even though I cannot call myself a feminist, I admire the struggle and heroic valor of many who've historically carried that tag, and even some who still do today.

One of my best friends in all the world, since childhood, is a down-in-the-trenches, card-carrying feminist (in the Third World nation which raised us, no less, where -- do you want to see what gender repression TRULY is, short of its Taliban deviltry? -- sexism is in the water)...

Rock on, MTK.
Super excellent important post Mary! I could write forever on this topic (and have been wanting to write a similiar post) so I will abbreviate myself here.

I used to feel the same way about the WORD feminist in my youth (early 20s in the late 20s). I knew I was one, but in my mind's eye, that was going to mean I could not like men. It meant I was going to be labeled an angry, man-hating bitch and that was not me, so I eschewed the label. But I'd THOUGHT that stereotype was dead today, and I am disheartened and astonished to learn it still exists!

For a long time, I've thought we've needed a new term for our cause.

My parents were an enlightened couple of the 50's. They were equal partners, and demonstrated their mutual love and respect every day. They raised me, their only daughter, with the exact same expectations as my 3 brothers. I have realized for a long time that this was a great gift. I entered the male-dominated world of my profession with an advantage The secret was, I have never once in my life considered myself one iota different than any man. Sure, plenty of the men had their issues accepting me at work and even in relationships, but that never affected me. When needed, i was perfectly capable of dana-Doulasing them (hehehe my facorite new action verb). Though I had to hire the lawyer in some cases ;-)

And I have always genuinely liked and loved the many good men on this earth.

The primary season was brutal for me, an old harridan who actually lived the inequalities, injustices, harassments, and abuses of being a woman working in a man's world. So many younger women coasting through their lives today were heaping scorn as terribly as the men once did. I was infuriated for 6 straight months.

I am excited that you will be teaching your daughters about our shared history. Perhaps once they understand "feminism" they can suggest the new term we need to include them, and their male peers, in the cause. Let me know if I can help in any way.
Another strong post, Mary!
Umm, my early youth was in the late 70's not the 20's Ha!
The term "feminist" has a serious PR problem. A not-entirely-unearned one.

Consider: "Romantic love, in pornography as in life, is the mythic celebration of female negation. For a woman, love is defined as her willingness to submit to her own annihilation. The proof of love is that she is willing to be destroyed by the one whom she loves, for his sake. For the woman, love is always self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of identity, will, and bodily integrity, in order to fulfill and redeem the masculinity of her lover."

Um. Really, Ms. Dworkin? ALWAYS? Yeah. I'll, uh, get right on that Feminism thing after I stop loving men, then.

Feminism's worst enemies are radical academic feminists, IMHO.
hoo boy, here we go. *rubs hands together in anticipation of the next slew of comments after Verbal upped the ante* :)
Mary, fantastic post and you have made some very good points. It's about equality, the freedom for all to have the same rights, no one on "top" of the other person. Society has made women feel like non-entities in regards to political, social and economic aspects over the years. It is a complex issue and the value of women in the workplace, home and in the world for that matter, should not be taken for granted and trivialized like it has been in the past.

The differences in men and women should not limit their capabilities; it's all about equality and not superiority!
When I was in high school being a feminist meant that if I went to a "burn your bra" rally I might get to see some bare breasts.

Now, 38 years later, I think that feminism has lost it's liberal/conservative distinction and I think that many women who claim top not be feminists are.

I know I'm rambling but I don't think that the label means as much as it used to. It's not shocking. It's mainstream to be a feminist. I'm one.
Great post. I loved your evolution. We have similar backgrounds but my folks, especially my father, gave us the subliminal and direct message to be daring, risk taking and declarative. The only problem was that it was also coupled with a subtext of criticism and put downs which robbed me of the self confidence to go out and actually act on all that bravado! In the end, I both did and did not--I developed a defensiveness which masqueraded as liberated woman, and it was not until recently in my late 50's and now in my 60's that I am beginning to understand that real strength has nothing whatsoever to do with what gender I am, what job I have or have not, how much money I have, what relationship I am in or not, or what my "social-political-cultural" status is! To me, real strength is to go deep within, through meditation and discover how to be "the child of illusion" as a post-meditation exercise.
I'm with Verbal. And I digged this (first submission ever, go rate Mary please!)
Don't get me wrong; I'm not anti-feminist, and in practice, in real life, in the things I believe and in the actions I take and the causes I support, I AM a feminist.

It's the word itself that's become hopelessly tarnished, as Mary's informal poll amply demonstrates.
I'm with Verbal. Like Christianity, Islam and other "persuasions" it's the radicals that haul the "brand" so far to one side that we want to hop offboard. Or overboard. Or something.

The "F" word needs a makover.
I got that, Verbal. And let the record reflect I agree with your comment 100%. I just wasn't sure everyone else would.
I share your dismay with the lack of support for feminism among young people today. But in pondering your definition of feminism, “A human being who advocates and believes in equality for women,” I see some potential problems. Men and women are not equal physiologically. Women have an anatomy and physiology that are designed for having children; men don’t. This makes a huge difference in how men and women behave. Societies and cultures have reflected these differences in the various social expectations and roles accorded to the two sexes. To not accommodate for these differences would likely be dysfunctional to the point that such a culture or society would not survive.

Rather than using such a broad definition, it may be wiser for feminists to define and focus their concerns to such issues as equity in the workplace, political equity, and greater equity in the responsibilities of the home. Using an overly broad definition of feminism gives the impression that feminists want women to be like men in ways that many women would feel that would threaten their sense of identity as being women, which is likely why you received response to your queries about feminists as being butch and gross. I imagine that most women would support efforts for equal pay for equal work and greater support from their spouses in childcare, but would balk at efforts to give them broad shoulders, deeper voices, and facial hair.
Hey, that was a pretty good post, for a girl.
I would love to march in here and get all militant, but I've got papers to write and didn't we have this fight just a month ago? Not that I don't think there should be a continued dialogue, but I'm not sure OS can have one- we failed utterly last time.

Great post Mary.
I'm trying hard to stop using words and terms, that refer to the feminie gender, that come from masculine words. I have been using "lady" a lot lately because of this, but now that I read ePriddy's response, I'd like to know if there's another word out there that DOESN'T have a masculine root that we can use to identify ourselves with.
I think feminism could be called a modern "secular religion" -- a secular ideology that exhibits many of the traits of religion -- that is popular in much of the United States and Europe.

The "church" of feminism is the university. As with religion the line between education and indoctrination can be very thin.

Feminism has it's own anthropology (theory of what it means to be a person), ontology (theory of existence), theory of history, system of ethics, and theory of justice -- a complete worldview covering virtually every aspect of life, including many lifestyle issues.

Feminism has it's own saints, extremists, heretics, unbelievers, and enemies.

As with religion, feminism has it's true believers, and also a very large number of lukewarm people who identify as feminists but who aren't very dedicated to the ideology -- kind of like the people who identify as "Christians," but by that mean that they go to chuch a couple of times a year and try to be good people.

The problem with defining feminism is that it's all that, and less, and more, depending on who you're talking to.
The word "feminism" itself, is the problem. It's been around to long and has so many different connotations for different people that I believe it is beyond redemption.

I have two daughters (no sons) and I'm all in favor of equal rights for women. But even I cringe a bit when I hear the word.

Perhaps in the spirit of framing the issue as having to do with rights for all humans, the word "humanism" should be co-opted and a new movement based on equal rights for all people.

It seems to me that no movement meant to bring about equality for all people can succeed if its name inherently connotes the exclusion of half of the human race.
"Rather than using such a broad definition, it may be wiser for feminists to define and focus their concerns to such issues as equity in the workplace, political equity, and greater equity in the responsibilities of the home."

mikek... that's what women have been wanting for years and years and years... equality in the workplace, in the home, and in other places. We haven't been saying "we want to be like men."

I think you are misinterpreting what women want.
Women want equal rights all around, PERIOD. What more is there to debate? I don't think it takes much to understand this, and it certainly doesn't need to be disected, given the historical treatment of women by men.
I tend to agree - it's the Word: feminism. My daughters think it's as archaic as are those who rail against same-sex marriage. I know, I know, we live in NorCal. I'm Lucky!
As a part-time post-secondary teacher, I've been hearing young women (not to mention men) sneering at the word feminist for years. Unlike most people here, I do not think that the word is the problem. The problem is a culture that is doing its collective best to suppress women's rights through substituting consumerism for empowerment, and faux equality for real equality.

That is what we should be objecting to, not a word that is still entirely appropriate and has no intrinsic "wrong" meaning. Just because people who have a vested interest in keeping women down have attached words like "bitter, shrew, shrill, strident, bitch" to feminist, does NOT mean that it is true.
Lainey, what a compliment to me! Lucky me...even getting squirrel in on that action...now that's rare!

Geoff: It's tricky isn't it. Will Someone Feed The Cat provide an excellent quote about well behaved women don't make history. Annoying, even angering others seems to be necessary when wanting to make true change.

irritated: Until there was the big stir about men and women's rights last month, I just assumed my children and their friends and my peers felt the same way I did. It was a rude awakening!

Mr. Mustard: How wonderful to have that kind of generational wisdom passed on and what a benefit to your sons!

Lainey: What an excellent comment and a post in and of itself. I agree with you because I don't want to get all caught up in language. Yet, I find myself with this very uneasy feeling that there is still a fair amount of inequity and a large amount of "settling" or if the younger generation doesn't experience it, it must not exist. My children are conscious educated people yet I'm still not sure they know how prevalent sexism has been in my own life. It's great to come up with a new word...you made a great point about "liberal" changing to "progressive"...I'm just wondering what is the new word/concept for the still existing sexism that abounds. Thanks so much!

Elizabeth and all...I'll be back....
Mary: You didn't say one ugly thing about men in your post! And you call yourself a feminist?

Kidding , of course. Wonderful, Mary!!
I'm loving the general sense of unity in the comments thread, Mary. That tells me you framed this issue just right. It seems that most of us are truly in favor of equality for women, whatever it's called. OK, that's kind of a "duh" comment--but nobody has felt the need to get all fringy in either direction. Cool!
We've ALL got a long way to go. Feminism used to mean to me exactly what you said at first, I have a problem with the term these days. Not in the sense that I no longer support and work for equal rights for women, I see it now as a battle for revenge against men. I know that I'll be called on the carpet for putting it this way. I am sorry. What I want is equal rights for everyone and that encompasses race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference (for want of a better term), religion and formal education. As I get older I seem to see that every group suffers from unfair treatment in one way or another. I speak strictly for me and in the country where I live. The horrors carried out against women in many other countries makes me angry. I don't know what I can do about that but I'm more than willing to listen to any suggestions. Equality, for me is now a universal cause that can't be contained in a term that is by it's definition one that only covers women. I don't have enough time left to narrow my focus that much. I don't scrunch up my nose at the term and I am friends with a lot of people who have no compunction about identifing themselves as feminist. Many of them claim to understand my position too. The rights of women equte for me to human rights. That no one should endure discrimination based on something like their gender. I'm really afraid of the reaction that you may have to this. I have agreat deal of respect for you and have seen you as one of my friends and supporters here. Obviously I could go on and on about this subject, I won't since this is a comment. If need be I will be glad to go into more detail about my position either in blog or PM.
Scary isn't it? It floors me that young women today take all their rights for granted, not having a clue what it was like before the 60's and 70's. Betty Freidan is from my home town so I got to read it in the papers every day while growing up.

Frankly, I don't think MTV helped at all. Women were and still are portrayed as sex symbols in front of their eyes every day of their lives. And it's bullshit women are not given equal pay. AAAH!
"I think it would be more productive and turn less people off if it was seen as a human rights issue instead of women's rights issue".
Excellent point. This is important if we wish to advance the freedom and status of women in parts of the world where "women's rights" is an ineffective slogan. Great post!
Maybe your kids need to educate you? Are you saying they don't believe in equal rights for all? If so, then they are automatically feminists. If not, then ask them why not.

What I do know is if someone says they want to "educate" me on how I should think, I will educate them on what a bad idea that is :)
Please, please show this post to your parents!!! You're younger than I, yet your parents were even more sexist and stereotyped than mine!

Perhaps you're right concerning the word, "feminism", yet I would attribute its negative connotations to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his derisive "femi-nazis" and the general degradation and demonization of women in the Republican-controlled, male-controlled media in recent decades. In fact, I think the "bimbo-ization" of women in the Republican media is getting worse in the 21st century! Bleached blondes and breast implants are EVERYWHERE on TV! And as the field of psychology has found repeatedly, children who watch a lot of TV are more stereotyped in their thinking as for example, "all women want are big weddings, big diamond rings, a man, and babies".

I always told my daughters and my students that women should focus on careers rather than men, and that if I could be 21 again knowing what I know now, I would have concentrated far more on my career and my education! So many sad, bitter women who bought into the bullshit about men and babies end up supporting children alone on low wage, dead-end jobs when, in fact, it's women who should be the ones best prepared to support children. And as I told my daughters, if a soul mate is part of the "plan" for this incarnation, you don't even have to look for him. You'll find each other, but focus first on careers and supporting yourselves...and they are.

Their father and I discussed political, social, and religious issues with our daughters almost as soon as they could talk. Injustice and inequality, how women were portrayed on TV, racism, male violence toward women, the hypocrisy of a "free" nation that exploits women and minorities daily, on and on, were frequent topics. Whenever I saw someone pulled over by the police in the racist, white, Republican town where we were living at the time, I would tell my daughters to check the race of the driver, and of course, that driver was black about 99% of the time. We would then discuss this, the wider social implications, etc.

Let me add that my daughters' father is one in a million, a "Real Man" who took his daughters seriously, listened to them, taught them things, played with them, on and on. Spending time with a child tells that child that she or he is important. Their problem is finding men who measure up to Dad! A father is the first man in a woman's life, and my daughters have a dad who has treated them with respect and offered help, support, and encouragement. So far they've met many versions of "Mr. Over-Sexed Sexist Pig", but not one like their dad, a sad commentary on men in the 21st century!
amen!!

i feel very lucky that i was raised by feminists. my grandmothers both had college degrees. my mother and father met in graduate school for physics. and they were very upfront with me about the differences they faced navigating their careers. my mom got in trouble for wearing pants to work when she was a freaking engineer.

and 30 years later, i was working in sales and i wasn't allowed to wear pants either.

i had a very similar conversation to the one you describe with a girl in one of my college classes. we were making installations and mine was about feminism. and this girl very seriously asked why i would label myself like that.

and it's so others can't take the label from me. the feminine mystique rocks.

gwool... boxer didn't "dress down" anyone. she asked nicely to be addressed the way her colleagues were.

and for verbal... i don't agree with dworkin, and she doesn't speak for me. i am not relinquishing my identity to strangers. this is a big problem i see for feminists to overcome.

why does the word "feminist" have to fall by the wayside? i mean, people still call themselves patriots when they denounce the patriot act. i wonder why we are so anxious to let others dictate the terms of a conversation that needs to be had.

we blame mtv and the media for objectifying women, but we should be free to objectify ourselves if we want. we're sexual creatures. we shouldn't pin our self worth on some puritan ideal, anymore than on any other ideal, except the one we choose for ourselves.

god bless katie morgan. i wonder if she identifies as a feminist?
Elizabeth: I really loved your comment and the acknowledgement of the story of the white knight rescuing the poor damsel in distress. Everyone, men and women, long to be rescued in some kind of way. Your feelings when you were pregnant were simply realistic and I know it feels bad to admit it, but sometimes reality is what it is. I worry far more about my daughters when it comes to safety. This is based on reality, not out of sexism. Thank you so much for your elegant response.

Newton: I hear what you're saying and based on the comments on this post, many are struggling with the words "feminist"/"feminism" but not the concepts themselves. There is a part of me that resists this because, and I say this as a humanist, it's easy for different inequities to get lost under the umbrella of humanism. I think it's good that people have different passions and causes that they take on. Gay activists, feminists, those advocating for the poor, racism, etc. sometimes are better represented by those who are singularly focused on the cause. Your words reflect those of one of the thoughtful young men I asked this question of. I will watch with interest and curiosity as to how my children address all of these issues, what labels/language they use, etc. The way I have wanted to "educate" is to expose them, teach them, have them be curious that it wasn't that long ago that laws were very different for the women in this country...and that inequity still exists. I want them to know that.

Arthur: Thank you fellow birthday boy.

AskW: You express how I feel with I see this "scrunching at the nose". I want to say, "Do you have any idea?" I am so thankful for the feminist movement and continue to be.

MotMista: Thank you for your comment and thank you for noticing the slogan underneath my banner (a motto I created for myself after a particularly painful period in my life.). And you bring up a great point about third world countries. fingerlakeswanderer (http://open.salon.com/blog/fingerlakeswanderer) has written many posts in this regard and she has all my admiration and respsect, as does your friend. Thanks for commenting!

Kellylark: Loved your comment! And I agree. I am a woman who loves men and is not angry (well, sometimes, but there's a time and place.) Whether I like it or not, the term doesn't seem to be productive, but what is the new term? And more importantly, what do any of us continue to be active in to ensure the fairness and treatment of all human beings...the lists seem to be endless. Thanks so much for showing up here today.

Sheldon: Thank you!

VR: Lainey has said that she agrees with you, and I find a lot of merit in what you say. There are multiple reasons why feminism has become such a distasteful word, and there are some women that are part of that. Thanks for your bravery.

Just Pamela: Thank you!

Roger: Thanks for reading and for your comment. Much validity in what you have to say.

Poet: I love the depth of exploration you have gone through and the conclusions as well. This can get really spiritual which for me, is sometimes the best way I can navigate through the complexities of life. Thank you.

Kelly: Oh yes, thanks for the Digg!

Seattle: I would love to hear your thoughts on the makeover of the F word...I just love that word!

mikek: Thank you for your comment and I'm reflecting on it...making sure I'm understanding the heart of what you are saying. I'm thinking...I'm thinking...

Cap'n: Pretty good comment, for a boy.

hyblaean-Julie: Yes, I thought about not wanting to "stir things up" but that lasted about one second. And it appears it has not. Those divisive posts of a month ago were what spurred me on to thinking about all of this and ask these questions. I appreciate you reading and commenting, and good look with those papers!

JK Brady: I like that your focus isn't so much on the words as it is about young women and young men LIVING it. Great distinction. And like you, I have been disturbed by the devoloution of the young women...portraying women as sex objects seems to have, if anything, increased. This I find disheartening.

LaCapitana: Great comment and intriguing. Is there such a word?

Mishima66: Good to see you! I looked up feminism on Wikipedia and it was interested to watch the evolution and it further complicated things for me. There are feminists mad at other feminists, feminists claiming they have the one and only right view of feminism, etc. etc. I got overwhelmed reading it. It helps me to just stick with the basis. Thanks for your comment.

fins2theleft: Your point is in agreement with Newton's and many others and perhaps this is the way it is going. I just don't want things to get so homogenized that we find ourselves accepting inequities because we've become so lost in the whole. (If that makes some sense, then good for me! I know what I mean...). Thank you.

Will Someone Feed the Cat: I LOVE this quote. Thank you.

Luland: I couldn't agree with you more, especially in the areas of entertainment and TV. Thank you!

Connie: It does seem to be an archaic term and I find that unfortunate...so is this then a generational thing? Damn...another sign of advancing years.

emma: I loved your comment and resonated strongly with it. Yes, the word feminist may be part of the problem, but you bring up such an important point: "The problem is a culture that is doing its collective best to suppress women's rights through substituting consumerism for empowerment, and faux equality for real equality".
Well said!!!
john: You made me smile. Yes, a feminist who has a love and appreciation for me...radical concept? I hope not! Thanks for reading.

Lainey: Thank you so much in your interest in this post today. I love that you keep coming to add more pearls of wisdom here and there. It's been a gift. Thank you. I do think we are all much better off when we can meet each other with what we agree with, not what we disagree with. As humans, we are all deeply more interconnected than not and when we can focus on that, we can come up with solutions that are compassionate, fair and just. This is the hope I have.

bobbott: Many are feeling the way you expressed yourself in your thoughtful comment and I thank you so much for that. I think, more than anything, I want my children to be aware of how much things have changed for them and their mother because of the hard word and effort of the feminist movement. And that it is up to them now to pick and choose those things that mean the most to them. And it saddens me that their reactions were so negative. I would invite them to be active in their lives for the causes that are important to them, because like you, I have a heart for anyone (male/female, etc.) who is discriminated against in any way for anything unfair or stereotyped. Please continue to expand on this in the blog or PM. I consider you to be a friend and support as well!

Middle Aged Woman: Thanks so much for your comment. Wow, Betty Friedan...what a woman and what a revolution she started with her book, The Feminine Mystique. Perhaps our children do not know that it was considered a radical and DANGEROUS concept to suggest that women did not need to find their fulfillment through their husbands and children. She was singularly instrumental in getting this idea out there. I'm so thankful she did. Thank you for your comment.

Steve: Thanks for your comment and it does get me wondering: Is there any place on the planet where "women's rights" do not need to be addressed in some way, somehow? I think therein lies the rub.

Harry: Are you kidding me? My kids have been educating me since the minute they were born and continue to :) I'm not portraying them in the most thorough of lights as this subject, this post has stirred up much conversation with them. They are most thoughtful people and so yes, I want them to educate me in how their generation feels about this issue and many. And perhaps "educate" isn't the best of words, but "share" with them my own experiences so that they appreciate the efforts of these wonderful brave women.
Good to see you!

Soap Box Amy: I loved your comment and the way you and your husband have raised your daughters! I wish I could show this post to my parents, but sadly, they have been gone for a long time. I've often wondered what they would have thought of my decision to divorce, live with my next-husband and then marry him with my four teenagers in tow. I don't think it would have been pleasant to be honest. Your point, in alignment with emma's is one I agree with. Yes, there have been some women who turned others off in the way they approached this issue, but they were not the ones with the radio shows that attract millions of listeners every day. There isn't one thing you said I don't disagree with, and I think you are one of the fortunate ones...the life you have with your husband and your opportunity to teach young women to find themselves first and foremost. Who said, "To thine own self be true"? There is great truth in this. Thank you for taking the time to write such a great comment. (I can't show my post to my parents, but I will certainly show this posts and its comments to my children...I trust that they will read them.)

bstrangely: I like your question: "Why does the word "feminist" have to fall by the wayside?" I think it does only if it becomes completely and utterly ineffectual. I'm not ready to give up on it, yet I also want to listen to what others have to say, other solutions, other terms. I've appreciated so much all of the comments on this post and love the intelligent way that everyone is responding. Thank you for more thoughts to chew on.
Great post, Mary. I happen to fall into your definition of a feminist and I make no excuses for it, but I see the animosity toward the term in every day life, too. It's more than a little ridiculous to think that you should not pay equally for an equal work load.

"You can be proud of people or movements but the more you divide yourself into sub-categories, the more likely you are to create isolation and exclusion."

This statement also rings true. The sooner we look at each other without the barriers and realize that we are all part of the human race, the better off we will all be. I hate to say it, but if we manage that by 2050 along with equal pay for women, we will be way ahead of the curve in my mind.
Wow! realy good. You've put it so well into words! I notice these un/anti-feminist trends in young women and men in the second generation now. (I'm 57). And it can realy hurt me to see the attitude of young girls, playing the slave of some boy. Lots of people don't even believe women get paid less, even though the numbers are publicised regurarly.
I tell young women, when there are elections, that it's their duty to vote, because women died for their right to vote. They always are very surprised, but also very interested in the whole story. Maybe feminism has a bad sound for people, because they don't know enough about it?
thanks for your reply! i thought you might enjoy this article about how sarah palin has used the word feminist. there is a cultural conversation here, and it's interesting to see how words and concepts evolve. i found this while discussing sally swift's blog.

there is a lot to chew over here. i'm so glad you posted on this subject. we should talk about these words before they're surrendered. maybe they need to be, but i don't want that decision to come from a place that has already given up hope.
GWool brings up a good point -- dammit ;-) -- when someone like Boxer takes umbrage at being called "m'am" by a general who would have just as properly referred to a male Senator as "Sir", she's not asking for equal treatment, she's asking for preferential treatment. Thus, she is making a fool AND a victim of herself.

Same goes for the idiotic notion of classifying 51% of the population as a "minority". Yes, that offset the longstanding disadvantage women have had establishing businesses of their own, but it created an understandable resentment among those who had a hard time seeing how they constituted a "minority".

I DO NOT want to be thrown in with the male-supremacist fundies, but the overt militancy of a lot of feminists hurt their cause every bit as much as the Black Panthers or NWA hurt the cause of civil rights. The Woman's Movement needed a lot more MLKs and a lot fewer Huey Newtons.

All that being said I am four-square for equal pay for equal work. But unfortunately even that has had the consequence of reducing real wages for both men and women. How so? The real winners in this "battle of the sexes" are the corporate crapitalists who now get two people -- a man and a woman -- to work for the price of one.
I feel rather timid to enter this conversation with such strong thoughtful women and yet...
I come from a family of strong women. Some married and were abused or taken for granted. Some married and divorced and made their own way in this world. But the key word for me here is "married". I learned to be strong from these women but what I didn't learn was that I didn't have to get married and have children to be happy. So I, too, married, had children, divorced and remarried because I thought I couldn't be without a man to give me love and support. I have been an adequate but not a good mother. I'm not ashamed to admit that looking back I don't think I was ever cut out for marriage and motherhood and yet here I am at 60 looking back.
I taught my daughters that they were strong individuals and assured them that they would never hear from me, "when are you going to make me a grandmother?" One of my daughters is married and one isn't. I have a grandson from my son and his wife. I don't know what my grandson will get from others but from me he will know that every human being is unique with their own abilities and deserve the same respect whether they are rich or poor, brown or white, (he is brown and I am white, by the way), male or female, educated or not.
I don't know what word would be better than feminism which, I agree, has gotten a bad rap. What I wish is that we didn't need a god damned word.
let's really screw up the conversation and go back to suffragist.
...because the word "Feminist" has become cliche' and misunderstood. Moreover, it is an insult to all women that a word or term is used to describe an independent, educated or liberal woman of achievement.
This word/term should not exist in today's world. It is of no use any longer. It was the the precursor to defining the respect that women have always deserved. No one, especially "our daughters," needs a "lesson in feminism." I, too, have to say, "UGH!!!"
Michael: Thanks for reading! Thanks for being an advocate. Like you, I just assumed that all my peers, children, etc. were "feminists". The animosity has been surprising and disheartening. In an ideal world, it would be wonderful if we could all just see ourselves as equal human beings. But there is too much "power" at stake it seems and therein lies much of the problem. Thanks again.

Dorothee: Thanks for the comment and really resonating and understanding all that I was trying to say. And thanks for making me your friend! I hope to read some of your work soon.

bstrangely: The link to that article was great! That article echoed so much of what is being said here, especially by emma and soap box amy. I put the link on a comment on emma peel's post of today, an excellent post that makes excellent points. Thanks for coming back!

Tom: This line struck me the most: "The Woman's Movement needed a lot more MLK's and a lot fewer Huey Newtons." Maybe the Huey Newtons of the feminist world have hurt the cause, but is it really them or as emma so reasonably points out, the Rush Limbaugh's and the media world and what they have done to frame feminism in such a negative light? I think these are important distinctions. Let's face it...all those angry bra-burning feminists in the 60's and 70's have brought about a hell of a lot of positive change, change that I benefit from and my daughters. I always appreciate your comments and look, you and Gwool finally agree about something!

lifehalflived: Glad you weren't timid because you had a whole lot of wonderful things to add to this conversation. Like you, I have encouraged all of my children to follow a path that is true and authentic for them. My two sons love to proudly remind me they don't believe in marriage and they don't want to have children. FINE. I don't care, as long as that is a decision they are making because it is best for them. It's not about me. And I'm in no hurry to be a grandparent that's for sure. My daughters are also reluctant about marriage but want to have children. I have told them there are many different ways to get what they want. There have been books written on the repression in the institution of marriage, and I think it the repression would be applicable of course to women, but men as well. Thanks again for your very wise comment.

bstrangely: now there's a word! Feminist sounds so much better to me!

Just Cathy: Thanks for reading and making this comment. You and I had a brief conversation about this on the phone and we definitely see things differently. I do disagree with you about "lessons in feminism". My daughters have done a lot of assuming about women in the workplace, and availability of reproductive rights, as if they have always been available. They need to be made aware of the brave woman ( and men who were allies) that forged the way for them. When I realized that they, and my sons, weren't completely aware, we had some conversations and will continue to. Nothing is off limits. Given what happened recently when the "abortion" doctor was murdered, the right to reproductive rights may be in jeopardy again. And I'm really glad you're my sister.

Phaedo: Thank you...I wish I had said it exactly the way you just did. That was perfect.
Mary,
Thank you for this informative and moving piece. I’m going to save your article and have my daughter read it.

Since she was old enough to understand the meaning of words I have told my daughter that I’m a feminist. When she was young she accepted that readily enough and through some miracle or enchantment she came to feel it was a very honorable thing for her dad to own the title.

It can never be emphasized too much that women have not yet achieved parity in the work place nor in most areas of endeavor.

You are a brave woman Mary and your voice (fueled by your character) is needed now - perhaps more than ever - when the promise of hope and change are lingering.

Your consistent desire to use personal experience as a means to reach and move others is one of many reasons you are such a favorite writer of mine.

Rated and appreciated
I feel extraordinarily lucky. Both my girls call themselves feminists, so we're in good shape.
But I've written about my students. Don't get me started. Great questions. Thanks for this.
God made both man and women to be equal. He loves you. Put your trust in him
all i know is that if the female gives herself to the male life is worth living. I think that's true whether yr the male or the female in this incarnation. otherwise life sucks. it's not a why it's a what!
sympathize with you feminists but-- you've got to stop getting so hung up on the word FEMINISM like the way a bull does with a red flag!!! what you really need to consider is how young men and women are ACTING not what they SAY about their behavior. and to a large degree, feminism has been INCORPORATED in to mass culture and attitudes. it faces the problem of confronting its own widespread success/penetration!!!
think like an anthropologist, not an activist!!!
Seems as if we all have some isms in our personal lives to live with. And they all seem to generate connotations and meanings that are different to different folks. I enjoyed reading your experience and take on this.
PS: When did you dye your hair black? :-)
I can tell you how feminism started with me. It started with reading Catherine MacKinnon's Feminism Unmodified. It blasted my eyes open about my father's, brothers', friends', and self's gender crap and how hateful, destructive, discriminatory, and painful it all was for women's I'd known. Most people on the left don't like MacKinnon because of her anti-pornography crusade, but her book changed my life. It was also brilliant as all hell.

My wife and I have two daughters and now that they're hitting teen years (12, 15), I find myself dealing with fashion, grades, dating, and how they treat their mom as feminist issues. As much as I'd like to think that Catherine MacKinnon's brutal honesty (which worked so well with me) would work with them, I'm sure that such would not be the case. So, much of what I do at this point is to make an effort to plant seeds of doubt about the status quo. That's particularly the case with fashion which I see as already having become an evil in my daughter's lives. I make little comments about how fashion makes girls like them think they're ugly, the cult of celebrity, anorexia, and stuff like that. I also talk with them quite a bit about their futures in terms of college, grad school, and careers. What little conflict there is in our family over these issues comes from their mom being more on the traditional side and not being as critical of traditional femininity.

By the way, I appreciate you're mentioning that you grew two inches in college. My five foot tall older daughter needs some hope that she could get to 5' 1" someday.
Very interesting posts & comments.

hmmm...I'm torn...my kids are younger than yours & probably have never heard the term "feminist" although I consider myself a pretty vehement one

my ambivalence - it annoys me some that younger women take for granted the battles that the "old line" fought on behalf of gender equality. Most young adults & kids have little idea that girls once couldn't go to school or play sports or were expected to only work in a handful of jobs.

On the other hand - I find it somehow reassuring and wonderful that my kids are clueless about this. I love that my daughter has the same educational opportunities as my son and has no self-imposed limits on her career or life aspirations based solely on gender. They know that men and women are different, but they aren't fed a constant low-level refrain that women/girls are somehow "less than."

She is only 12 and this could change, but it is much different from the culture in which I was raised. Not my family so much (my mom had 4 girls & dad worked out of town, so we cut grass, took out garbage, etc. & she paid bills)...but sports were very limited and our separate-but-equal gender segregated Catholic schools were anything but (this will require a whole-other-post).

Perhaps I am fortunate that I live in a rather progressive, large urban area where my children have many opportunities to see females in traditionally male-dominate roles, such as doctors, lawyers, and other professionals as well as seeing men being equal partners in marriage & child-rearing.

I don't mean to sound all Polly-anna, because I think we still need to fight the good fight to ensure full equality (but not just for women), but in summary, I guess I find it encouraging more than disheartening that younger folks take this stuff for granted.

I guess if they internalize the equality as inherent, then as they see inequality institutionalized, they will react as well.
What an awesome post!

I teach middle school in a classroom that was the sewing room. My youngest sister was the in the first group of girls who got to take electric shop instead of sewing and cooking. (In '72 or '73) I remember that when I was in third grade (1967) I was allowed to wear pants once a week.

I grew up in a family that didn't think twice about women being educated--both my grandmothers went to college in the 20s and 30s. But neither of them used it to be independent and both were subject to their husbands gambling the family's money away.

My own children are boys. When my oldest son said he needed to write about an oppressed group I told him to write about women.

Among the kids I teach are immigrant children and/or the children of immigrants--from countries that don't promote women's rights or education (for girls or for the poor.)

Unfortunately, I think "feminism" has been twisted up with some ideas which are sometimes valid and sometimes invalid.

I don't think young people have the same expectations of gender roles as in the past. I just don't think they use that word.

As for the sexualization of women through media--I commented on this once to my shrink. His take on it wasn't that it was explotative because we are living in a time in which women are able to acknowledge and express that we are supposed to get pleasure from sex rather than being a means for men to get pleasure. An interesting thought.
Oh, and no matter what you call it, women aren't going back--and neither are people of color...and neither are gays. And it doesn't matter if we/you look unlady-like or uppity.
Wow – I think I hurt something trying to get through all the comments. This post is a great example of something you do so well, putting an issue out there in a non-threatening way even though you’re taking a stand. You inspire such interesting debates!
In my experience, understanding 'feminism' only comes after experiencing the imbalance of power first hand. Wait until these girls grow up, take jobs, get overlooked for promotions, have babies, maybe quit, go home, feel locked in rigid roles of what a 'woman' is supposed to be. ...Anybody remember that book, "The Women's Room?" I think it was only after reading that book that 'ladies' became a denigrating term for me. After reading that, I gave voice to words like "vagina" and "penis"
and 'breasts.' I laugh when I hear Megan Fox call herself a feminist, as I doubt she knows the meaning of the word. Girls today seem to often equate it with having sex. Becoming a 'feminist' is a hard-earned right that comes after youthful fancy fades.
I'm way too late to this, but great post, Mary. I don't have a problem with the word, never have, never will. I think trying to rehabilitate it, or convince young women that the world isn't their oyster, or blame its demise on Andrea Dworkin is the the wrong way to go. The girls will figure it out soon enough, and they'll have you as a model to find the empowerment they need.

Articulating the issues as well as you do is always the best way. That and being shamelessly bitter, and shrill and bitchy, when appropriate.
With Bill O'Reilly's recent interview with Joan Walsh, we were treated to a presentation of the dark side of male supremacy: the ugliness, the arrogance, the spitefulness, the contempt, the willful ignorance, the bellowing, the brutality, the wheedling and the flat-out lies. O'Reilly displays the underbelly of male power, and it is execrable. Certainly not all men are this way, but as male supremacy is repudiated the fangs are flashed and the blunt instruments are unsheathed and bloody war cries echo in the air. As a feminist myself, it is my hope that women manage to bring a better approach to the table, and that they do not interpret equality as the wholesale adoption of the dynamics that men have utilized historically in the culture of power. Humanity desperately needs a new paradigm of equality, cooperation and mutual respect, and we look to feminists to find a way to bring it.
For an interesting and provocative interview with Professor Daphne Patai of UM-Amherst check out: http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=29071

Sorry I don't quite understand yet how to embed in the Comments section. For further essays about Patai's discussion about how much feminism has been coopted by identity politics to the point of educational censorship and suppression of opinions, just Google Daphne Patai

Great article, MKT Rated.
I am sending a link to this post to my daughter to get her take.
This is an interesting piece, because of the questions it asks and the personal message you use to illustrate it (and you always find the best cover pics Mary!)

I think the answer is contained in this statement - "but I think it would be more productive and turn less people off if it was seen as a human rights issue instead of women's rights issue". Maybe 25 years ago and older woman (probably younger than I am today!) made a comment to me about "women's rights" and I responded "I am all in favor, what frees women frees men." She looked at me with shock for a moment and then said "YES" But as you point out, our children have gotten messages through their formative years that go counter to this from media of all forms and in other unconscious ways.

We can wince all we like about the way a woman is treated, say in Afghanistan, or mutilated in sub-Saharan Africa, but until we can root out all the unthinking references in our own minds about any form of "the other" (gender or racial or ethnic or social or financial or or or) very little will change. Its like saying "I thought we were supposed to be a color blind society" in response to any kind of special help given to a black child attempting to attend college, knowing full well that the injustices being addressed have to do with the fact that the child spent her pre-college days in inner city schools with 1/10th the quality some middle class white kid's school.

Excellent piece, and rated.
There's nothing wrong with the word feminism/feminist. It should be kept and rescued. The words have been tarnished, not by radical feminists like Dworkin, and not by the feminist movement itself, but by male supremacists like Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly, the Christian fundamentalists, and their predecessors that Susan Faludi chronicled in Backlash: the Undeclared War on American Women.

That is why young women frown at the word. There's been a concerted campaign against women and more generally against the challenges to Ozzie and Harriet Land by the sixties' insurgencies.

They are all of a piece: the demonization of women, of abortion rights, of immigrants, of blacks, of Muslims, of science (esp. evolution), of the Enlightenment.

Another reason that feminism is the right word is that the oppression of women continues and the fight against it deserves and needs a name. It is not enough to say that it's a fight for human rights or whatever even though it is that because you have to highlight the particularity of the oppression of women, just like you have to highlight the existence and persistence of racism rather than subordinating it within "human rights."
Great post! A feminist is a person who believes in and supports the idea that a woman should live life as she chooses. Now, if women weren't the underclass, the only greater underclass being children, we wouldn't be having a discussion about life and choice and support.

Joan Walsh is a feminist. How frustrating it must be for her to be a lion, but thought of as a bunny by her colleagues! Oh, Joan, don't go on Bill O'reilly...he'll eat you alive! Wow. That's one way to keep a good woman down. And that's why Joan is a feminist...she still far too politely for my liking...took all that 'kind' advisement (demeaning language) and lived her life as she wanted. And she had Bill as a tasty snack. Which she was altogether well mannered while doing.

You have come a long way, Mary...and we all still have a good stretch to go....
It is not enough to say that it's a fight for human rights or whatever even though it is that because you have to highlight the particularity of the oppression of women, just like you have to highlight the existence and persistence of racism rather than subordinating it within "human rights."

That's a good argument, Dennis. I was thinking, though, about the civil rights movement and how it was "against racism" and "for civil rights", rather than being mainly "pro-black" or something else along those lines. (There were elements of the latter, but I don't think that that's how most people would characterize the movement overall.) I think that some sorts of names can be more inclusive than others. For example, I'm a feminist. But there are some within the feminist movement (and outside it) who would say or imply that only women can be feminists; men can be pro-feminist. And yet if a woman were to say, "I'm pro-feminist," people would wonder, "Why don't you just say 'feminist'?" That issue doesn't come up if I say that I'm in favor of civil rights, or however that might be phrased, whether I'm a minority or not. I think a single label for people who support feminism might be useful, with everyone within the group being able to use the label and accept its use by others in the group.

For what it's worth; I haven't thought much about names and such.

Oh, and nice post, Mary!
I love you so the all caps here are not for you. But this is a feminist.

http://open.salon.com/blog/dorinda_fox/2009/06/20/from_iran_this_afternoon
Putting it simply, being a feminist from the male perspective is or should be a given. It means respecting women's rights with equality that you would any man or woman of any race, religion, ethnicity or color. I don't believe in repression, domestic violence and oppression. Well, I believe in their existence, I just don't participate.
That makes me a feminist in my mind.

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I'm a feminist and have been since the age of 15. Complaining about the word "feminist" and equating it with the extreme views of Dworkin/McKinnon is like saying we should jettison "democracy" because Bush stole an election or two. I don't hear anyone complaining about gay rights because that movement does not address the rights of straight people. People who are out of power, as women still largely are, are entitled to their own movements that focus on their own issues. Have I mentioned that I love men? Do I have to?
Someone once told me when I was in high school that feminism isn't just for women. I decided then that I would be a male feminist, and I do believe in equality in all things - even the draft as mentioned in this post. I really think, having been raised for the most part by a single mother, that women are as strong if not stronger than men, deserve to be on the same social, economic and political footing as men, and get shafted in the grand scheme of things, even today. Great post!
Somewhere between the negative stereotype of a "feminist" and the naked PETA activists I posted yesterday there is a happy medium. But I think it's really the label that needs to transform, not the idea. I'll write more after I ponder a bit. Wow Mary, this is at the top of the list of most viewed!!! Congrats. I wonder where My Sexiest Men Living Went? funny!
Basically I want to ditto what Emma stated. The problem is not with the word but rather the ugly connotations the word has been given by those who have a vested interested in keeping women dependent upon men. It does sadden me that so many otherwise enlightened people are willing to allow a movement based in equality accept without question the stereotypes of those who wish to destroy that movement.
I drill this phrase into my daughter's ears (she's 1.5 years old): "Girls.Can.Do.Everything". One of my parenting dreams is to produce a kick-ass chick who can compete with anyone and put incautious boys to shame at the most masculine pursuits she cares to try her hand at. I believe I will, too.
To anyone who says women aren't "equal" biologically, bullshit.

No one is equal. It isn't about being exactly the same as anything. But it's interesting we still move from the perspective of "becoming a male" as the standard. That's super intriguing, isn't it?

It's about equal opportunity. And anyone who takes that 'equal' argument and twists knows this perfectly well.

It's about equal treatment in terms of being a human being. That doesn't happen right now. Women are treated as "less than." What I love is the "shock and disbelief" that occurs when I mention this fact or when I relate all the completely true stories of things that happen to me, times I was treated badly or less than and told explicitly, WITH ACTUAL WORDS, that it was because I was a woman.

Yeah.

So, I'm a little tired of the wide-eyed "What?" and "Really?" I think it's bullshit. Everyone does know this stuff. But if they pretend, maybe it won't improve.

There. That's my challenge. Suck on that.

Good post, Mary.
This is an interesting dialogue, to which I want to contribute a few cents (if no sense).

First, on the generational issue, I'll vote with Lainey: "if their sentiments are in the right place--wanting equality for all, including women--then they are feminists". Our nieces and our sons' young women friends seem generally committed to the idea that they are equal and should have every opportunity that men enjoy. Even if they don't call themselves feminists. And I think it's significant that the proportion of women in college, law school, med school, etc. has risen so high. These young women certainly aren't ratcheting down their dreams. (In fact, I worry about the underachieving, tuned-out boys. But that's another day.)

Second, I always saw myself as a feminist becuase I believed women should be free to make their own choices. But I was bothered by the fact that many feminists defined that as meaning women had to have a career in the working world. They denied the possibility that a woman might choose, willingly, to be a wife and mother. Indeed, they sometimes denigrated those who did. It struck me as rather intolerant and smug--and self-defeating because it weakened the movement by alienating potenial allies. Doesn't "women's liberation" mean freedom to choose?

Third, men have generally not stepped up to the plate to help women. The burden of housekeeping and child care still falls disproportionately on women, and that's palpably unfair. We've tried to educate our sons otherwise. I can only hope that they will demonstrate they've learned that lesson. If they don't, we'll straighten them out.

Fourth, I think it's not surprising that young women today don't understand/relate to/appreciate the struggles that their mothers and grandmothers went through. Becuase they didn't. It's the same thing that happens with second and third generation immigrants. It's the same thing, I daresay, that has happened in the black community, where the work of civil rights pioneers is not fully appreciated. Those who study history, or have things explained to them by their parents, will understand, to an extent. The rest will be unaware. I think that's human nature.

Great debate, folks, and thanks to Mary for getting it started!
I don't know what governs the responses of young women today, but I know what happened in the eighties, because I saw it happening with my first students at the university level. Somehow, feminism got kidnapped by its least constructive wing. People like Andrea Dworkin and Susan Brownmiller took a strange decision. They said, "Hm, we want to fight sexism. Therefore let us label all men sexists and rapists and tell them you are always and forever sexists and rapists. There is no escape. That will surely encourage them to change their ways. Let us tell young women that the whole idea of romantic love is a betrayal of the sisterhood, and any woman who wants a happy marriage cannot be a feminist."

Young women very naturally responded, "Well, fine, then. I won't be a feminist." It was a reasonable response at the time. I remember a generation gap between women my age (then late twenties) and first-year students of eighteen or so.

There were, at every point, other things happening in feminism, and I don't know why the negative wing dominated the public image of feminism. Certainly, I think the mainstream media played up the more radical statements, whether from ideology or just from a feeling that this was newsworthy, I don't know.
To be a feminist is to be a humanist. I want equality for all and we are so far from that, there are parts of the world where to be a woman means to not survive in utero, to be burned alive b/c of your gender, to be buried up to your waist and stoned because of your gender, to be repeatedly raped , starved, and brutalized. Feminism is still needed, and there is nothing wrong with the word, the frowns we see, the knee jerk pejoratives are the echoes of a slowly crumbling patriarchal edifice crashing down around us. What rises in its place is not female supremacy, but rather a death to the notion of supremacy based on *any*thing at all - not gender, not skin color, not language, not birthplace, not religion. Feminism can lead the way, if we let/help it.
Mary- This is a great post. It has brought to the forefront of my mind the unchallenged behaviors that were so evident when I was just entering the work place. I remember going for an interview and the owner of the business actually exposed himself during the interview. I left there, furious and also afraid. All the females in my family discouraged me from reporting him because they said I would not be taken seriously because of my age and my dress style. I wish I would've seen into the future, but then I stop and wonder if it's so different now. I'm not so sure it is.
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I read your post but mot all the comments.
Just want to thank you for this.

rated for raising awareness
My family was kind of old fashined that way as well. I think everyone is racist and sexist to some degree in that we have preconcieved notions from experience or learned somehow. That is to say we make assumptions because it is the way our minds work, categorizing, learning from experience.

So it is almost impossible to not walk around with assumptions of these kind, and it comes out even is subconciously. Do I behave differently at work around women then men? Maybe. If so I am not aware of it but we are all walking around with preconceived notions.

Ideas that leave us surprised to find that Rock Hudon is gay but not Liberace, because television or experience makes us generalize. We expect blacks to believe in God, southerners to like Nascar. Women to be more nurturing then men. Asians and Jews to be smart. The list goes on and on. A lot of it comes from television. And every time we are surprised by something because of it is a look into our preconcieved notions. I just think the media and educational establishment obsess over it way to much. Most people have notions but are willing to suspend judgement until they know more about a person.
There are certainly more academic responses than what I'm about to give, but this is what I tell students. A feminist is one who has the audacity to think that women should be equal in all levels of human society and culture, that women and men should be valued for their humanity and treated with dignity both in language and deed. A feminist is one who has the audacity to witness and teach the experiences of women throughout the history of literature, philosophy, art, music, business, science, and religion, etc. and, especially, to demonstrate the real denial of that history and how that denial has shaped the lives of women and men. And I tell them that yes, I am a man, and I am a proud feminist.

Oh, and I was quite proud of Barbara Boxer for she certainly maintains the respect of referring to generals as General and the General in question wouldn't refer to male senators as Mr., absent a last name to accompany that title. He might as well say "Listen Missee!" I think we can live without all of these paternalisms.
I have a hard time--having witnessed the sexist, ageist, and in many ways racist evisceration of the first viable female candidate for presidency in the U.S.--hearing people complain feminst as a word is problematic. Why not "moderate feminist," "centrist feminist," liberal progressive pinko commie feminist"? Michelle Obama won't call herself a feminist, but she'll still call herself a Christian, right along with Rush Limbaugh and Rev. Wright.

Andrea Dworkin is a "separatist feminist," just Gloria Steinem could be said to be a "coalition-building feminist," just like Roseanne is an "obnoxiously funny feminist." There's nothing wrong with the word femnist. What's wrong is the inherent and ongoingly insidious sexism that continues to tell women like the obviously oxymoronically named Verbal Remedy that language should be ladylike and accomodating and not offend--be assertive, not aggressive, girls, and since a mere one of the many connotations feminist can have is of loud, angry women, Verbal would rather run away from it and throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, rather than remedy it by reclaiming it as, what she claims, she practices. Why not "open-minded feminist," "easygoing feminist," "quiet, demur Donna Reed feminist"?

Verbal's Remedy is precisely why America increasingly lags behind (and really needs to come to grips with this fact) other industrialized, as well as even second and third world, nations in terms of women's politcal representation and power, and no doubt why it probably will be a gun-toting, pretty girl Sarah Palin who is elected before a validectorian, pantsuit-wearing Hillary Clinton. Verbal Obviously Not Remedying Anything is ashamed of the very word that has given rise to her supposed practice, ashamed to differentiate and claim her feminism, the very reason why, IMHO, it is women like her, far more than men, who continue to sustain and perpetuate sexism in the States.

But then, being one of those dreaded academic feminists, I cannot possibly differentiate in any educated, studious, thoughtful way between the knee-jerk extremism of Dworkin and Verbal's just as hateful and divisive Remedy. It's true, some dykes hate men (though not me; I find them fabulous drinking buddies), but I have found it's far more straight, bitter divorcees and women who've been raped and incestuously molested and beaten repeatedly who find a certain segment of the male population repugnant, as I know many of my drinking buddies do, too.

In the meantime, while we riot grrrrls debate how to make everyone feel comfortable with this big bad word ("Shall I play mother and will that be one lump or two, darling?"), and the boys line up to watch the mud wrestling, sexism continues not only to flourish but propagate, as in these ads by some good ol' Jewish boys and Bacardi Rum:
http://jezebel.com/5296935/bacardi-ad-uses-misogyny-to-sell-alcohol-to-women .

Can't wait to hear how the word feminist is more offensive, but if you think so, Verbal, feel free to be my "ugly girlfriend." ;-) ;-)
I know what you mean about feeling less and paying for college. My parents are loaded and my brother got tuition and rent covered while I got "tough love" to pay for it myself. Then my mother thinks I'm selfish because I don't want to hear about her trip to Italy or the seventh time she's remodeled the kitchen. It's their money but it hurts to feel like the second-class kid just because I'm an innie not an outie.

As for the term feminism, I don't know why either "equal pay for equal work" turned into you are a bitch, butch, etc. I think we need a new word too so generations of women don't give up their rights because they mistakenly think claiming their rights aren't "pretty" to others.

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I doubt many members of the younger generation understand why women had to bitch and scream and be angry. My honors student recently dissed Rachel Maddow for "trying to be so cool." I asked if she understood that when I was 17, women were "allowed" on newcasts only if their tits were big enough to get them a job as Wanda the Weather Bunny, eye candy. She of course had no idea what I was talking about.
I must warn you to take what you read in these comments with a grain of salt-a very large grain of salt. I personally know one of the people who commented on the 19th and they are lying to you about being a feminist; in fact, this person says feminists have ruined male/female relationships and derides them frequently. Nice post, though.
butchybubbles, that ad is insane. i've often said that there's no solidarity among women, but that takes the cake, the ice cream and all the candles!
Mary, this is a wonder post that goes into all aspects of Feminism; from your childhood to present day. I like the way you think with your statement, "Feminism became for me, not a dirty word, but a metaphor for freedom." If more people could understand that meaning and the opportunities it brings.

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Mary - Sorry I am so late, my days are consumed with raising a new generation of feminists over on the girls side of camp! I willl have to take your questions with me when I return at the dinner bell and start asking them to the 20-year-old leaders as well as the 14-year- old campers. My mom was one of 5 daughters - no brothers - the last of her father's family name. From the time I was born I was told stories of our close cousin Susan B. Anthony and shown the books she wrote and signed which sat in my grandmother's home. I was told women can do anything but the reality was that the message I was sent by my grandmother (and in many ways my own mom) was that a good husband and a good "figure" were what was most important. My parents did pay for my college but they certainly did not guide me to a top ten school and a big buisness career the way they did my brother. Back to camp for a closing thought, one of the things I like most about our camp is that the boys and girls camps are seperate but the same. They live in different parts of camp, and for the most part interact in single-sex environments, but both boys and girls are challenged to become our next generation of civic leaders, change makers, or even feminists.
I'm obviously very late to this post and think that Verbal's comment resonates most with me.
Nothing to add that hasn't already been said beautifully. Just wanted to say, I'm with ya.

Rated.
The quest for equality, equal opportunity, and rights to choose will advance as soon as girls (and boys for that matter) can choose their parents before they are born
Dennis: It was so wonderful to read your comment! I've missed your posts and presence on OS. It is the highest compliment to me that you will have your daughter read this. Thank you for being such an advocate for women...your daughter is most fortunate.

fingerlakeswanderer: Thanks for your comment. I so appreciate your many posts, and your activism and passion for women all over the world. You are an amazing model to all of us.

Mr. McDonald: Amen!

Ben Sen: I can always count on you to add a unique dimension to any conversation. Thank you!

vzn: Language is a powerful thing isn't it. You're right--the younger generations will come up with new language, but I still have explained to my children why they shouldn't see "feminism" as a dirty word. Those women and the men who were their allies made my children's lives a hell of a lot easier, but there is still a ways to go. Thanks for your comment.

grif: Thank you! And very funny :)

Ric Caric: What a great father you sound like. Your daughters are fortunate. And yes, perhaps she's a late bloomer...I swear I just saw my 24 year old daughter and she had gotten taller (or this could mean I'm shrinking!).

lpsrocks: I didn't find your comment Pollyanish at all. You are such a reasonable person and able to see things from different angles. This is a gift and I loved your comment.

Without a Paddle: Your shrink is doing an interesting reframe and I wish I could believe that. I think part of it is true and part of it is the same old reducing women to sexual objects only. Thanks for your comment.

David Decker: Thank you! I have really enjoyed the discussion and the Civility displayed on a post that could have turned volatile and then there is nothing productive. I've learned from everyone who has made a comment.

Crabby Golightly: I have never read the book...it sounds intriguing. Perhaps the sexism is more disguised, perhaps it has lessened, but until there is true equality, it's hard to know. Thank you.

Juliet Waters: I don't have a problem with the word either. In fact, I think it would be said to find it to be an outdated word especially because of the continuing inequalities. I smiled with your description of "shamelessly bitter, and shrill and bitchy". I think I need some lessons! (Although my husband might disagree!)

Monsieur Chariot: A comment worthy of a post itself. Bravo for something that couldn't have been said more clearly, brilliantly and succinctly. I am honored that you shared this with us. Thank you.

Patie: Thanks for the link. I've been terribly busy and want to look it up. It sounds fascinating.

Tim4change: Good to see you and great comment! You are so right when you talk about "rooting out all the unthinking references in our own minds about any form of the 'the other'...gender, racial or ethnic or social or financial." Excellent!

Dennis Loo: Another fantastic comment that I agree wholeheartedly with. Thank you for such a great contribution.

Robin: I am still disgusted by the Bill O'Reilly interview with Joan and his over-the-top condescending hateful treatment of her. He seems like a true mysogynist. Thank you...I have come a long way, and yes we all have a good stretch to go. Makes life interesting.

Rob St. Armant: It's a treat when you make a comment and this was no exception. Thank you!

Dorinda: Thanks for the link....you know I love you too. You are one beautiful role model in my view.

Kind of Blue: I know the respect and love you have for your wife. I know you come from the heart. Thank you!

SirenitaLake: Love your comment! And the distinction you make...a compelling and important one. No, you don't have to mention you love men...Stellaa helped me out on that one!

Peter Tenuto: I'm so glad you were told that feminism isn't just for women. I certainly never saw it that way. You sound like a great ally (your mother sounds awesome too). Thank you.

tregibbs: You are such an advocate for those disempowered. Love the bumper sticker!! Thank you.

Beth: There is a happy medium and so many of the comments left here reflect this...your "My Sexiest Men Living" (I thought that kaysong) has been replaced by your white rapper post on the cover!

RenaissanceLady: Thank you. I thought Emma had great and valid points.

RickyB: Another awesome father! Hope your daughter did something wonderful for you on Father's Day.

odetteroulette: I loved the passion in your statement! I love your challenge. How about I chew on it instead of suck? Seems more palatable. Thank you.

AtHomePilgrim: Another comment that would make a great post. Excellent! And it really didn't even seem like a debate...more like a very intelligent conversation among reasonable intelligent people. Thank you.

Matthew: It seems like the "negative wing" may have come from religious right wingers or people like Rush Limbaugh. Thanks so much for your comment.

Sandra: Perfect, just perfect. I always love your ability to say the things I would have liked to have said, but didn't have the finesse.
Thank you.

junk1: Your story is a classic example of power differentials. It's always easy to have 20/20 vision isn't it, but it sounds like you've incorporated this vile experience into something good for yourself. Thank you!

ladyfarmerjed: Thank you!

jimgalt: I love a good comment from you. This one was well rounded and reasonable. Thanks so much.

Shivan Nestor: Thank you!
Bryan Johnson: I'm starting to just have my jaw drop with all these thoughtful and compelling comments and yours is no exception. The different takes on Barbara Boxer has been enlightening to me. Thank you.

ButchBabbles: Thank you for your comment. I've been looking up ads from the 50's and ads from today and they are almost more despicable today. I share your feelings about the word "feminist" but also understand why so many have a knee jerk reaction. I loved hearing your perspective.

aoafedotcom: Nice to meet someone who had a similar experience when it came to paying for higher education. And I agree, it's sad that the term "feminism" has been so degraded. Seriously. It ticks me off.

jimmymac: It is a generational thing isn't it. But after watching Fox news recently, I'm not sure how much things have changed in the news department. Thank you!
Lierene...sometimes people's thoughts are just vibrations in the air. I appreciate your commenting. Thank you.

bstrangely: I haven't had a chance to look at the ad, but there was one that was basically implying gang rape. It was removed. Disturbing.

George: Thanks for reading! And thank you for understanding my statement. It is why "feminism" will always have a positive note for me.

mamoore: Hey, I'm so thrilled for you that you have Susan B. Anthony as a cousin! Wow. What a wonderful family legacy to have. And even despite that legacy, the subtle sexism you experienced in your family is a common story. I love your positive attitude and your role in the lives of this kids at camp.

cartouche: Thanks for coming...no expectations what with your recent trip so I appreciate it and Verbal made some excellent points.

Gwendolyn: Thank you!

noah: That may be awhile! Who knows...maybe science will figure out a way. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Feminism is a world-wide ideological movement.
It is comprised of a social movement which addresses the issue of acceptable social behavior and seeks to foster group identity and advocacy based upon the identification of members as being of the female gender and those of the male gender who empathize with the movement –
and a political movement seeking legal protections, economic opportunities, and protocols for legal grievances.
You GO, Girl! Because of the political and corporate bastardization of the term "feminist," I have used the word "womanist" for decades now.

Mare, I thought I was being so individualist, intellectual, unique, special, ahead-of-the-game. I had out-smarted and out-witted the misogynists trying to keep me and my kind down.

Yet, come to think of it, was my changing the name from feminist to womanist cleverness or capitulation? Dang!!!

Another great piece. It's fun being in your head here. What's next?
Mary, a great but disturbing post. I thought that my daughter would grow up in a me world: post Kennedy, post King, post Friedan and Steinem, post discrimination of any kind. But I see the rise of fundamentalist religion, women's repression, Islamic extremism, and general craziness in the world today, and I worry.
P.S. And she lives in Boulder!
Thank you for writing and sharing this, Mary. I enjoyed reading it very much and you've got me thinking about words.

Words like "feminist" or "queer" or "vegetarian" or "hockey fan" are slippery words, I think. Maybe someone decides to define the term "hockey fan" in a very loud and strict way, stating how often one must wear one's team's colors, how often one must attend a match live, and what percentage of matches one must watch on television; and declares that anyone who fails to live up to those standards is not a real hockey fan. That would take a lot of the fun and joy out of hockey, I think.

Maybe for these slippery words, and for the tough concepts, we need to gently refuse to be defined by how other people use words. Or rather than starting the conversation assuming that we all share the same definition of slippery words, we need to start off by whipping up some consensual functional definitions.

That could be a fun party game before the match starts. And if a fist fight breaks out, well at least there is a hockey match there to take the blame for the blood.
noah: Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment.

Joan: I love this term: "Womanist"...you are one of the unique ones. Thanks so much.

Ralph: Scary yes that even in liberal Boulder, a parent has to worry about this! Like you I thought I'd be able to take it for granted but all the repressive systems you brought up, unfortunately real.

dicea: Thank you so much for your thoughts. I especially loved this:

"Maybe for these slippery words, and for the tough concepts, we need to gently refuse to be defined by how other people use words. Or rather than starting the conversation assuming that we all share the same definition of slippery words, we need to start off by whipping up some consensual functional definitions."

It really is helpful if we take the time to define exactly what it is we are talking about isn't it. Your hockey fan theme throughout made me laugh. Thank you.
I'm lost: "This is not a battle that has been won by a long shot. You’ve come a long way baby, but you’ve still got a long ways to go."
At work no one makes me do anything unethical. There are more women working as purchasing agents than men (are the men outside somewhere or in oil fields?). If I were to divorce (respects hubby, only if) unfortunately for my husband I’d make out better merely by standing up for myself and relying on the courts. I'm financially capable, interdependent and active in sports. If that's not winning, including the fact I wouldn't want to compete with me or even be a guy, then how far do we still have to go? Seriously I may have missed something, but even without a job, who can push you around that you refuse to allow? How far is there to go? IMO, it can be a long way back to humility. My pay is equal to my male peers. The more we beg, demand, or intellectualize for more, I think the more ludicrous our hard earned equality appears, and I do not want to lose it. I won't bring too much apparently hidden and awaiting discussion of sexual crimes against women as a sign of decline, since are not men's lives also being destroyed, day by day as jobless persons "treated" as potential rapists in manner and attitude by us. Caution sure, but let's spread some good nature if we're to hold on to and moreover be deserving of our great position as women in this age. Make waves...clearly I will, but not simply for effect, defensiveness, or to beat apparitions. Let’s see what the really have and get off the train of worrying and feeling less than but saying something different. Reinforce they’re out to get us (nicely) and you’re scrambling in one way or another.
Humanism is the way, absolutely. Lift one side overtly, then add a slip of tongue or a day/month/year of rage against the machine, and you'll become a machine. That's what feminism means to me - a machine, a hammer that hit enough nails already. Up the game to proactively equal actions. Don’t fear being authentic or, God forbid (!), feminine at work. Lift, build, and improve instead of shame, force, and manipulate. It works in business and between genders. Give superb effort instead of superior talks and being fast offended. Feminism as a word isn't terrible, but I describe myself an advocate for women's and men's rights. Draws curiosity, then just as quickly, understanding. People know immediately their included.