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What does a feminist mean to you?
23 May, 2013
IN a class discussion on feminist art, a student posed a question asking what does being a feminist mean in today’s society? The student was quoting pretty high profile female leaders in the art and business world distancing themselves from the word ‘feminist’.
I wasn’t aware of the taboo the word had acquired in the past decade, but apparently, while Beyonce’s “Who runs this world?” anthem for female empowerment was hitting the airwaves, feminism has become associated with something derogatory
and unpleasant. Suddenly in the higher corporate echelons women don’t want to appear threatening to their male counterparts and they drop the word feminism from their vocabulary.  But since when did feminism become a threat to men? From its origins the movement was focused on providing equal rights to women, same rights that men had in society and work force. And if anyone thinks that feminism doesn’t need to exist anymore, then they haven’t understood what feminism stands for in the first place. In US the women are still getting the short end of the stick for being able to give life, from Republicans who try to legislate what women can or cannot do with their bodies, to the companies who punish them for the same ability, by claiming the unreliability of a woman in a work place. A woman might get married and have children, and work less; therefore instead of decreasing her pay once that happens, the companies rationalize paying them 75 cents on a dollar that a man would make in the same job, even if the woman doesn’t have any children. Women are said to be emotional and irrational (by that definition the entire Orthodox Church must be made of all females). Women are said to take thing personally, to not know how to be a good sportsman and loose gracefully. Women are said to be jealous and competitive amongst each other. At the same time, they are considered too soft and too motherly to be ruthless leaders or just judges. All these contradictions and accusations that people throw at women are in order to have them fight amongst each other and to prevent them from competition in the work place. Men and women who like subordinate women, who do not appreciate competition are uncertain of their own power and are afraid of losing it to someone better suited for the job. Women, who insist that other women be as meek as them, have a frightened outlook on life in which their worth is measured by the male gaze. They play into the idea of being an object, and by doing so they turn other women, their daughters, into objects as well. This is why being a feminist is important. Feminist is a person, who will not accept women being bullied, or being discounted and dismissed from participation in the daily societal structure as mere cooks, housecleaners and baby making machines. Feminist is a person who stands for the rights of a woman to choose to be a mother, a career woman, or both if she chooses to. A man gets help in raising family and holding a career, and the feminists say the women should too. If a whole family stands behind a man, it should stand behind a woman even more so. In some comments on ‘Chemi Tsolis Dakalebi’s’ page someone posted that they were surprised that character of Tina, whom they called a ‘feminist’ suggested having sex first. Being a feminist doesn’t mean one has to be asexual or hate men.  Being a feminist means that women have as much say in the sexual partners as men do. Feminism allows a woman to understand her worth in a society, and not to underestimate it. So yes, feminism can be scary to men and women who are unsure of themselves and are afraid of letting others be better than them. But that is why feminism is important, so that our mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends are protected and valued on the equal footing as our brothers, fathers and husbands. In a civilized society, everyone counts and everyone matters regardless of sex. In a civilized and strong society, everyone is a feminist.
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