FEMINISM – A Taboo word?
Inspired by a feature in a well- known Sunday paper that proudly displayed a line of women of various ages, all in glamourous evening wear and all with incredibly courageous stories to tell. The thing they have in common is that they all served in one or other of our armed forces and are helping to celebrate 100 years of servicewomen. It was a quote from the eldest of which, (now 95) that read ‘I’m not a feminist, but I think if you could do a job as well as a man, you might as well do it’ that fired me up to discuss the issue of the actual word ‘feminism’.
I can’t produce word for word examples but in recent years I have picked up the ‘vibe’ that in some sections of thinkers, the word ‘feminist’ seems to touch a nerve. This then produces some angry exchanges especially amongst the various social media conversations. I realise a lady of 95 is unlikely to share the view of much younger women regarding both the word and what it stands for, but her quote reminded me that some women do not wish to lay claim to being a feminist due to its sometimes negative connotation.
It seems to me that the problem lies with the misconception that feminism represents a contest between women and men. That a feminist is a woman who wishes to show that she is equal to a man in all respects. In actual fact, it is the word ‘equal’ that is misunderstood in this context and all of us who are following our dreams and inspirations to achieve success perhaps in business, careers or merely life, may not realise that we are all indeed feminists.
The word ‘feminism’ is represented by only one thing – CHOICE, the right to which we all have. The word ‘equality’ for women means that we must have equal rights to choose our own paths in life and not be governed by the restraints that may be either overtly forced upon us or implied by more subtle gender imbalances in our society. A feminist is merely a woman who knows that it is her absolute right to choose how she lives, how she works and indeed how she thinks. Indeed a man who also supports this theory may also consider himself a feminist.
A feminist is NOT a woman who wishes to denigrate men, she does not have an “anything you can do I can do better …” attitude. Feminism is not a contest between the sexes. It is a word that represents a woman’s right to choose – a right that is perhaps more automatically awarded to men to a greater or lesser effect depending on one’s culture and background. If your self esteem, your aspirations or just your general attitude is one of just knowing that you have the right to choose how you live, then you can rest assured that for you feminism is not a dirty word.