The F-word: feminism. It turns a lot of people off. But here's why being a champion for it is still important in 21st century Western society.
Isms & Social Justice

The F-Word: A Look at Feminism, Complacency, and the Possibility of Bill as “The First Gentleman”

The F-word: feminism. It turns a lot of people off. But here's why being a champion for it is still important in 21st century Western society.

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I’ve dropped the f-word a time or two in my writing, and I’ve been told I might offend some readers, turn them off. For this reason, I’ve decided to delve in to the controversy of the f-word (FEMINISM) and at the very least, clarify the kind of feminism I believe in.

To those who are annoyed by women fighting for equal rights, I say this: I am annoyed by you.

My great-grandmother (and probably your great-grandmother) was born during a time when women were not able to vote. We are only a few generations removed from women’s suffrage. My grandmother and mother (and probably yours as well) joined the workforce during a time when women were not granted equal pay for equal work. Women of my own generation (myself included) are forced to take unpaid maternity leave. Throughout the world, it is still completely legal to sexually, physically, and mentally abuse women. It is still common in many countries for girls to be forced into marriage and motherhood immediately upon reaching puberty as well as suffer forced genital mutilation to ensure they do not enjoy sexual intercourse.

Now you are really annoyed, aren’t you? (If you are even still reading, that is.)

Okay, I get it. You think this fight is old, done, tired (at least in your modernized view of the United States). Women got their vote. They represent 50% of university students. There are women CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and maybe soon, a woman in the presidential office. So shut up, you say. Let it go. Stop talking about it. Stop with the f-word already.

To this I say, are you recommending complacency? Is that the best we can do for our daughters? Shall we say to them, “Good for you that your great-great-grandmothers and their daughters and granddaughters fought for you. So now you can roll over and enjoy your opportunities and stop fighting”? Is that what we expect of our sons?

Or do we want all of our children to continue the work for equality, to ensure that our boys and our girls are raised to believe that any of them can run this nation? I respect the work and courage and audacity of women who came before me far too much to submit to complacency and laziness. And therefore, I identify with feminism, I support feminism, and I write about feminism. And yeah, I want my daughter to receive some damn paid maternity leave!

To that end, I also feel compelled to define what I, personally, believe feminism to be. I believe in equal opportunities, equal treatment, and also equal expectations for men and women. There are those who believe feminism to be another form of sexism. In some ways, I agree. I agree that putting a woman into a higher position, solely to fill a quota, to check a box on a diversity checklist, if she is unqualified for said position, is sexist. I also believe this hurts all women and lowers the level of respect society holds for us. That is not the form of feminism I support.

What I do support is the promotion of qualified women, who have done the work, who have the knowledge and capabilities, and who can do the job.

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Should women be allowed to train on the front lines and as firefighters and police officers? Abso-fucking-lutely. But if you can’t drag my 200-lb husband out of a burning building, you shouldn’t be a firefighter, regardless of what body part is between your legs. Should men be kindergarten teachers? Yes. As long as they are kind and nurturing and are willing to wipe a booger now and then. Penises and vaginas are irrelevant.

Are you still there? I hope so. Let’s talk some Hillary.

Is this your biggest fear? Are you afraid that she will get “the women’s vote” just because she is a woman? Well, this may surprise you, but I am a bit worried about that too. Let me be clear: Would I love to see a woman as president? YES. I relish the notion of looking into my daughter’s eyes and saying to her, “Do you see that? A girl can be the president! A girl is the president.”


Do I plan on voting for Hillary Clinton? I honestly do not know. I am not committed to voting for a woman because she is a woman and because I want that moment with my daughter. I am committed to reading, watching, listening, and educating myself as to who I believe the best candidate to be. And then I plan to use my right to vote, a right I am incredibly grateful is bestowed upon me, to voice whom I believe is best suited to run this nation.

Will it be Hillary? Maybe. (I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, right. This chick is so obvious. Like she wouldn’t vote for H.C. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: this old liberal voted for Bush at one point because she believed he would do a better job than his opponent.)

So that’s my feminism: just wanting my three kids all grown up, believing in themselves as equals.

Hope you made it to the end. Hope the f-word becomes less scary. And honestly, I really do hope there is a Madam President before I die.

Seriously, calling Bill “The First Gentleman” would be fantastic. Can we at least agree on that?


*Follow Karen on her blog The 21st Century SAHM, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.