Monday, February 11, 2008

Labeled with an F

Last week, The Caffeinated Librarian hosted a lively discussion about the label "feminist" and all that it encompasses and implies. She was prompted by an article by Leonard Pitts, and ultimately, both CL and Pitts pose the question, "why are women (and men for that matter) so afraid to be labeled as feminists?"

I think there are a number of reasons why the "f" word has become a derogatory term that many women and men shy away from, but I won't get into that. If you're interested in some of the suggestions others have come up with, read the full Pitts article and check out the comments on CL's posts. What I really want to do here, is state, in no uncertain terms, that I'm proud to be a feminist.

There. I've said it. I AM a FEMINIST. No, that does not make me a militant man-hater, if that's what you're picturing right now (because that's apparently what some people think when they hear the "f" word). I am a professional, single woman who is thankful to all those women who came before me, militant or not, who were not ashamed to wear the letter F boldly upon their chests, so that I could make my own choices in life. I'm grateful for every woman (and man) who fought for the female vote, who stood up against discrimination in the work place, who rallied against rape and violence toward women around the world. And I'm proud to consider myself one and the same with each and every one of them. If it weren't for these strong, courageous FEMINISTS, I would likely be the exact opposite of who I am today. I would not have had the option to:

  • Speak my mind
  • Vote my beliefs
  • Work as a professional in a male-dominated field
  • Wear pants to the office
  • Chose my own path
  • Buy my own house
  • Pursue each and every one of my dreams
Feminists have made so much possible for today's women. But there's still plenty of work to be done, and I am not ashamed to be counted among those who will continue to fight the fight until women can make their own choices in all situations and be treated equally no matter what they choose. Because that's truly what I think feminism is about: fighting for the opportunity to be whatever and whomever we choose to be and to receive all the same benefits (and consequences) of those choices that men do. So I hope that more women and men out there will challenge the misconception of feminism. If you're a feminist say so. Say it loud and say it proud!

As one of my favorite childhood songs goes:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

From I am Woman, lyrics by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

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