Wait, come back! Don't stop reading! I know it's a word that might scare some of you, but I promise it's more than what you're thinking!
But really, that word is so loaded. In a lot of places, proclaiming you are a feminist almost directly results in being written off as a crazy lady with anger issues (well in North America at least, I have found the word to be much more understood in the UK and Europe).
It's odd, I think most of my friends and family knew I was a feminist before I did. I always ran from that label because, well, I just had no idea what it meant. I assumed (and I fear most people think this too) that it meant crazy man hater, and I didn't really want that type of label. But in the past year I've gained a lot more knowledge on the subject and I've realized I am (and have always been) a feminist. Of course I'm a feminist! How could I not have known sooner!? It's all rather mind boggling. However, even after discovering that in fact, I am a feminist, fear of being labeled a crazy man-hater has kept me rather shy to identify with that label. (Not shy about discussing the topics of feminism, come on now, I talk about them all the time! But I've been reluctant to say things such as "I'm a feminist").
Recently however, I read Caitlin Moran's book How to Be a Woman, and wow, was that a game changer! She explains it perfectly:
“What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy, and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”
Of course I am!
As I mentioned above a big part of my issue with saying "I'm a feminist" had to do with all the misunderstandings of the word itself. And with all the confusion about the word and what it means, I rather enjoyed Ms. Morgans little rant about it:
“Because we need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British Women – I used to think, what do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue,’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?
These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realized that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn't even be allowed to have a debate on a woman’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to hoeing the rutabaga field. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail* – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600, for that dear, I think. And I bet it’s going into your bank account, and not your husbands. The more women argue, loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.”
*right-wing British news paper
She is just hilarious and I love her use of caps lock and italics. I caught myself laughing out loud to many parts of this book! There are so many topics that she gave hilarious, yet thoughtful incite too. Tricky things like what to think of strip-clubs, flirting at work, female pop-stars, and motherhood. It was great to get a bit of guidance on these topics. Of course I didn't 100% agree with every little detail of the book, but overall I was damn impressed, and happy to have some thought out discussion on some tricky, and often ignored, topics.
So here's my declaration world, I Carly Friesen am a feminist. Do I think this epic declaration will change my life? Nope, because as it turns out, I've been one my whole life. (Literally. I recently found an old assignment from grade 6 titled "women's rights", I never even had a shot at being a misogynist.)
I'm curious, would you call yourself a feminist? Have you read How to Be a Woman? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts on this!
ps: If you're curious to learn about some amazing trail blazing American women pbs just published a brilliant documentary's on the topic, which (at the time of posting this) is streaming free online: Makers: Women Who Make America (Fingers crossed they make a project like this for Canadian women too!)
Find this post also on the Wonderly Blog!