8 Mar 2011

Owning the F-Word

I like how she looks unimpressed.
In honour of the 100th International Women's Day, I'm doing something special: Taking the day off to watch Classic Family Feud while feasting on cheese and Campari in bed. Just kidding - I do that every day. 

Nope, today I'd like to chat a little bit about feminism, which I'm sure is a disappointment for those who came to this website to read about bitches and 1950s housewife life. I assure you, I'll get back to all that very shortly.

If I had to write a list of all the things I am, the word "feminist" admittedly isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But if asked the yes or no question, "are you a feminist?", I'd immediately and enthusiastically answer "Yes!" To me, it's like answering the question, "Should people be nice to each other?" or "Are Cool Ranch Doritos delicious?" It's so automatic, that I can't help but be surprised when I hear modern people say that they're not feminists - or to even suggest that they're anti-feminist. I think there's a valid argument for someone who prefers to think in terms of being a humanist vs. feminist, but to me, that doesn't explain anti-feminism.

So, if I were to guess why some people flinch at the thought of being labeled a feminist, it has to do with what they think feminism is. I'll give you a hint: It's not about burning bras or hating men or voting liberal. It's not about dumping on women who wear make-up or get married or have kids or stay at home. It's even not about ignoring biological differences between men and women.

For me, feminism is about the freedom of self-determination. It's the idea that a woman shouldn't be limited in her chosen path because of notions of what a woman should, shouldn't, can, or can't do.

(Fellow humanists, feel free to replace the word "woman" with a race, class of people, or sexual orientation.)

It's a philosophy that ultimately encourages women to strive to become the individuals they want to be. Do you believe that? Yes? Surprise, you're a feminist! Doesn't it feel great?!?

Frankly, the only people I can think of who are opposed to this concept are those who are entrapped in a belief system that profits, depends on, rewards and punishes based on keeping a woman (or herself) "in her place". If you are such a person, I hope you have the freedom and drive to question it for yourself.

If you are already a feminist, I hope you have the freedom and drive to help your fellow lady out (here and abroad) and work to build and protect that which allows women to choose their own paths in life ... which leads me to the one political thing I'll say:

The defunding of Planned Parenthood in the United States is an atrocious affront to women. This isn't about abortion (none of Planned Parenthood's federal dollars ever went to abortion, and roughly only 3% of Planned Parenthood's work involves abortion procedures) - it's about affordable and safe access to health services, birth control and family planning education. Not sure how that fits in with a woman's freedom to live the life she wants? I'll let the legend, Loretta Lynn, explain it to you:

Agree with me (and Loretta)? Do something about it.

Have another bone to pick when it comes to women's rights and advancement (like how women perform 66% of the world's work, earn 10% of world's income and own 1% of the world's property)? Check out We Are Equals


Anne 5:27 pm, March 08, 2011  

This is a GREAT post! To me, feminism means being the woman I want to be - whether that's a stay at home mom or a high powered executive.

One thing that ticks me off beyond belief is women who want to take away another woman's right to choose her life. You can choose to stay at home, let me choose not to. (This site has me all riled up - http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/)

Di Smith 6:47 pm, March 08, 2011  

You know, Jen, I get the distinct feeling that we would disagree on certain things (given the chance to gab over a glass of Merlot or whatever). But I just want to say that you always present your case/opinion/viewpoint with a sensitivity and professionalism that is downright commendable.

I might cringe at being called a feminist (probably depends on who's calling me one), but I'm right there with you on this post. Here's me cheering "I am Woman, Hear me Roar" and all... But that doesn't mean that I need to devour or mutilate men or other women who choose differently than I do.

@Anne... I'm trying to find the post on the above named site that wants to "take away another woman's right to choose her life." Can you direct? Thanks.

Daisy,  11:43 pm, March 08, 2011  

I love the way your frame feminism. There really is no denying it - I *am* a feminist! Thanks for making me think about it!

I too am also applauded by what's happening with Planned Parenthood. Our country's approach to health and health care isn't just anti-woman, it's anti-human.

Unknown 12:09 am, March 09, 2011  

I'm totally blogging about this now. Thanks. :)

Anonymous,  1:51 am, March 09, 2011  

I most definitely am a feminist! I enjoy my rights to choose whatever I want. I also teach it in my history classes, making sure to include women's history and how women have been impacted (and how we have impacted) history! Surprisingly, I have a MALE student who is ENTHUSIASTIC about women's history!

Daisy,  1:03 pm, March 09, 2011  

I posted my comment past my bedtime. I meant to say APPALLED not applauded when it comes to the Republicans and Planned Parenthood. Big difference!

Meghan,  5:37 pm, March 09, 2011  

Thanks for saying something about Planned Parenthood. It's so obvious from talking to people that want to defund it that they have no clue what it actually does. If it wasn't for PP, I wouldn't have access to affordable birth control that would then PREVENT me from ever having to have an abortion. People that are pro-life are entitled to their own opinion, but protesting outside of a clinic that works to PREVENT unwanted pregnancy is just functionally retarded. Defunding it is knuckle dragging, ass backwards, sexism plain and simple.

Jen 8:58 pm, March 10, 2011  

Thanks for commenting everyone!

Anne - Thanks so much. Exactly - I love a live-and-let-live approach to life.

Diana - That is such a nice compliment - thank you! I wasn't always so sensitive, it took a few years of blatant insensitivity before I got there. :) I actually love discussing issues with people with different perspectives, provided that there's a level of civility involved. And yay for embracing the feminist (for a day, anyway)!

Daisy - Thanks! Honestly, when I hear about some of the political shifts in the US I feel so, so thankful to be Canadian. And no worries about the typo - I do them all the time!

Beth - Glad to hear it. Read your blog - beautifully said!

Anon - That's terrific. I think there are more male feminists out there than we realize. Actually, I think most modern men are feminists, they just don't realize it, because thinking of women as equals has become the norm. J'adore!

Meghan - So well said. Don't like abortion? Don't block services that help prevent unwanted pregnancy to begin with.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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