Modern Feminism: What Does it Mean?

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I came across a very interesting article in Jezebel today, called “Feminism May Be Nearing Her Expiration Date.”  In it, the columnist, Tracy Moore, cites a piece by Hanna Rosin in Slate Magazine about the term “feminism,” and women’s reluctance to identify themselves as feminists.

Clearly, as my character Trip in The Booby Trap points out, there are stereotypes of feminists out there as man-hating women actively rebelling against the status quo by refusing to shave or wear bras.  But surely, educated women don’t feel they ought to be subject to these stereotypes just by identifying themselves as feminists?

A book I had as a child

My mother was a feminist.  She was a baby boomer and believed strongly in the revolutions in the sixties and seventies related to race, gender, and sexuality.  I recently found a picture of her as a young mother, with me, wearing an “ERA Now” t-shirt.  But my mother certainly didn’t adhere to the stereotype.  She wore bras.  She shaved.  She worked part-time or not at all while my sister and I were young and my dad brought home the bacon as a doctor.  And, as far as I know, she didn’t feel any less deserving of the title “feminist” because of that.

So, for me, being a feminist has never been a scary thing.  My mom taught me that I can do anything a man can do and vice versa.  She taught me that we define our own responsibilities, that we work out with our partners who does what.  Maybe that means that the woman stays home to take care of the children.  Just as likely, it could mean that the man does that.  She taught me that “feminism” isn’t about women being better than men; it’s about women being equal to men.

So my question to you is what does the term feminism mean to you?  Do you consider yourself a feminist?  If not, why not?  Is there a better term to define how you feel about the roles of women and men in our society?

One Response

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