Wednesday, April 27, 2011

FEMINIST is NOT a Dirty Word

After an author event a few weeks ago where I spoke about the importance of women to give voice to their stories, a woman came up to me and said it was refreshing to hear someone speak who was an unapologetic Feminist. “I hope you’re not offended by that,” she said.

“Offended?” I said, “I’m flattered.”

No matter how bad the connotation of the word Feminist gets in our culture, you will never, ever hear me say I am not one. In fact, you will never hear me say that I have moved beyond Feminism, (honestly what is beyond the true equality of the sexes?) And please, don’t start with me about how being a feminist makes me a man-hater. I’ll just yawn in your face out of boredom. You want to tell me women have achieved as much as men in this country, this contienent, this world? Then I will seriously have to ask you to pick up a paper and read it every now and then.

The mere fact that feminism is a term men and women shy away from should be enough of an example of how bad things have gotten. It’s like saying the civil rights movement made everything okay for African Americans – oh wait, some people believe that too don’t they?

Feminism is a hot button topic for me. Consider yourself warned. It has been since I was a young girl. No matter what the world has tried to teach me, I fervently believe that I am second to no one and that I have an unalienable right to make the same amount of money for doing the same job as a man or a gorilla.

I do not believe that men and women are the same in the way they see the world, approach relationships, business or their feelings. I don’t want to make men more feminine or women more masculine. I want the same pay for the same job. Let me rephrase that, I DEMAND the same pay for the same job.

I want to live in a world where women and children are not repressed, are not trafficked, sold, abused, degraded, oppressed or killed simply because they are women.

I want to live in a world where girls are not bombarded endlessly with images and expectations of perfection which are not only impossible to achieve but not worth achieving. Feeling beautiful is the essence of beauty and any woman over thirty knows that doesn’t happen with the right mascara.

Being pleasing does not give you happiness, turning yourself into an object of adoration denies your own humanity – why are we asking our girls to do that?

The truth is women are assaulted, molested, raped and abused at alarming rates. When bodies are found in unmarked graves, chances are they will be the bodies of women, and most likely they will be women who worked in the sex trade and lived a few blocks away from any address anyone cared about.

Many of the plots of TV shows, bestselling novels and movies revolve around the mutilation and murder of women. As if all the pampering, makeup and primping we get from these so-called “women’s magazines” is just preparation for becoming an ideal corpse.

I am a feminist and will be one until the day I die – and if I have done my job right I will leave behind a new generation of feminists who know the fight is not over, it is just beginning.

Look, the math here is simple, take care of women, you take care of the world. That makes me a feminist – what does that make you?

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