What is a Feminist?
FEM-I-NIST n. A person who is involved in the movement advocating the granting of the same social, political and economic rights to women as the ones granted to men.
When asking the question, "What is a feminist?," I received some very strange responses. When I posed this question, the people who answered seemed to be confused about their own beliefs. The question was also much more controversial than I had anticipated. The group that I asked was comprised of six females and four males, and was only moderately ethnically diverse (being one African-American, one multiracial person and one Israeli). They had many ideas about what it meant to be a feminist.
Going into this assignment, I assumed that everyone would have the same ideas about feminism that I did. I believe that a feminist can be many different types of people. My definition includes women who are not afraid of their own power, and are not afraid of the power of the patriarchal society, and stands up for what they believe in throughout every aspect of their life. There are also male feminists who recognize some of the wrongs that have been done to women, and support the movement to change them. A feminist can be the militant, angry female who thinks that men are against her or the soft-spoken pro-choice woman who believes in her right to choose her own health care. I believe that feminists come in all shapes and sizes, and may not be able to fit into the label that encompasses them. In my experiment, people's view of feminism came in two varieties.
One version of answers focused on a positive view of feminism. After posing the question, a friend of mine named Katrina immediately responded, feminism is the "reason why you can have a bank account in your own name." Another friend, who considers herself a feminist, said that feminism is "a person who believes in complete equality; socially, economically and otherwise, between males and females." She also said "because we live in a heteropatriarchy, (feminism includes) going out of your way to support women and help lessen the gap - I will be post-feminist in the post patriarchy." I also heard from a friend named Beth that "a feminist is someone who believes in equal rights for women, even in football". She thinks that they "go out and fight, sometimes bra-less." Greta says that a feminist is "a person who respects and is considerate towards women's rights and will do anything in their power to achieve them." A guy named Bryan that I stopped on the street said that men can be feminists because a feminist is anyone who is pushing for equality, believes in equality for the sexes, and an open-minded person." These answers showed the side of feminism that includes hard working women with a goal of equality and a power and strength accompanying this work
Many people are split between this definition and a more negative side of feminism that they see. A friend of mine named Lisa summed this up well. "There are two types of Feminism. True Feminists are for equal rights and liberation, and want to be able to do anything that a man can do. But there is a group of feminists that is out of control, the MTV generation of feminists which is a group of women who want to be strong but is just looking for something within themselves that is lacking. They don't understand what feminism is really about." I received many comments about the militant feminism that is being discussed. Ziv says, that a feminist is "a woman for woman's rights and is a real bitch about it." Amy talked about feminism as "a way for women to complain about something: all about being proud but an excessive pride, Feminazis taking things to the extreme and sometimes overly sensitive." Beth also commented that feminists were a majority of lesbians because they had an extra chip on their shoulder. Then there was my friend Jamie, who thought that being a feminist was simply a reversal of the traditional sex roles, where the mother went to work and the father stayed home watching the kids.
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