Oops, I said the F-word

March 23, 2009

Feminism, that is. I get a lot of flack from people about being a feminist. Sometimes from men; sometimes also from other women. It seems women are often afraid to call themselves “feminists” because they don’t want to be viewed as crazy or radical.

I think the term has been hijacked from us, and we’re at the point where it is perceived as something totally different than what it truly means. I can say something about feminist bloggers at a table and get smirks — not even from guys, but from other women.

So I will say it once and for all: there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist. And there’s certainly nothing “radical” about wanting equal rights and equal opportunity for all. The notion that wanting such a thing would make you considered radical, crazy, or bitchy, is just plain nonsense.

If you are a woman who tries to disassociate yourself with feminism, I ask you: why? Is it because of all the negative connotations that come with the F-word?

We don’t hate men. We don’t think women should be superior to men. We don’t think all women should put their careers over family, or that no woman should be a stay-at-home mom. What we do believe in is that women should have options to do whatever they want with their lives, just like men. We believe in eradicating problems like wage gaps and gender discrimination, and we believe in pushing forward legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Law and the Family and Medical Leave Act which create equality for women and men.

It’s really not much more complicated than that, so I’m not sure why feminism gets such a bad rap.   You shouldn’t have to be ashamed of calling yourself a feminist.  If you are a woman who is afraid to call yourself a feminist, it might be time to get over it. Equality is kind of worth fighting for.



  1. I think there was a huge discussion on this recently at 20 something bloggers.

    I believe if you read enough of the feminist literature, or even blogs, you will find a large disconnect between feminists, a lot of in fighting, and a lot of disagreement as to what it really is. It is quite tedious really. The whole scene turns me off.

    I notice that the generation I am a part of is seen somehow as not fighting hard enough, and not being radical enough, not appreciative enough for what went before. When some Harvard grad decides she want to stay home with her kids she is called out by those who consider themselves an authority on the genre of feminism.

    Show me a women out there actually doing things on the ground to help women and further their cause, be it in this country or somewhere else and to me that is a feminist, whether she calls herself one or not.

    • Unfortunately, yeah, I have read some feminist blogs and literature that does show some infighting. I think it’s sad because it detracts from the larger issue at hand. I try to stay out of that stuff.

      As much as personally it pains me to see a Harvard grad stay at home with her kids, I don’t think that she shouldn’t have the right to do that. To me the whole point of feminism is that she has the option of getting a great Harvard education and the option of doing whatever she wants with her life, career or otherwise. However, I do feel a little sad inside when I see that because I think a lot has been done to get rid of the glass ceiling in public institutions, but maybe it hasn’t permeated private life completely yet.

  2. Hey Nisha,

    I stumbled across your blog a while ago – I guess I’m what you would call a lurker. It’s really great to read about your life and experiences, and it seems like blogging has, like you said, empowered you.

    I’m a feminist too, and I totally agree with you about feminism being a dirty word. It’s something I’ve discussed with friends and in classes, and it gets me going every time.

    Just last night I was discussing this with a group of friends, one of the girls blatantly denied being a feminist, the other rolled her eyes. It gets kind of frustrating when I think about how recently women acquired the rights we now enjoy.

    Anyway, I just want to point out that feminism is more than just believing in equal rights and equal opportunity. Feminism is about acknowledging power structures within society, whether they are gender-based, racially-oriented, or otherwise. I think it’s too easy to say that feminism is a belief in equal rights, it gives everyone an excuse not to actually do anything about the hugely present power structures that permeate our society.

    Hope you’re doing well!

    -Megan Melloy

  3. Nisha! I am flabbergasted that you have written this post, because I was thinking about writing something SO similar to it today. We are totally on the same thought process right now.

    I am still going to write the blog, which was going in a different direction than yours, but I definitely agree with what you have to say here. People DO scoff when you say you’re a feminist. It seems almost “uncool” to be a feminist.

    It’s so interesting.

    But, I’m like you – I wave it proud. I’m not going to hide my feminism because I’m afraid what other people will think of me. I mean, where did that line of thinking ever get anyone?

  4. […] still believe that women do not deserve equality. And, I’m sick of feeling like feminism is a bad word. It’s one of the most deeply human things we can do – to acknowledge that 50% of the […]

  5. […] att kvinnor inte är värda jämlikhet. Jag är sjukt trött på att höra att feminism är ett dåligt ord. Det handlar om att 50% av vår mänsklighet förtjänar att inte känna sig som en andra klassens […]

  6. Nisha,

    I agree that ‘Femininism’ has been hijacked. It used to be a social movement to empower women to make decisions about their lives and to be valued for their contributions. Now it is a social stigma that conjures thoughts of the affirmative action it triggered, the over analysing of terms like HIStory, and the few man-hating-women it created.

    My objection though is that ‘Femininism’ has also, in a way, demonised Femininity. Some women still believe that to be empowered is to be masculine in a well tailored skirt suit. As opposed to being valued for yourself and your contribution regardless of gender.

  7. Nisha, you’re absolutely bang on the money with your post. Despite being a guy I would say that I’m a feminist, Why? Because there is still (though reducing!) a social gap between men and women. Sure, of course there will always be huge differences in the way that we think and percieve the world but quintessencially we are all human, one race of people that need one another to survive. One is no better than the other, just different.

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