The F-Word of the Year: Because People Still Don't Know WTF Feminism Is
What the f***?
Merriam-Webster has declared that the 2017 word of the year is feminism.
Because apparently people still have no clue what a feminist is.
Thus it's been the most searched word in these past 12 months on the Merriam-Webster site, to beat out complicit, empathy, and hurricane.
Hopefully people actually learn that the dictionary definition of feminism is: "the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" or "organized activity on the behalf of women's rights and interests".
I can only imagine that millions of people were SHOCKED to discover that feminism does NOT mean: "Total global takeover by women in order to dominate all men and destroy civilization as we know it" nor "a secret society of witches who dance naked under the moon while brewing cauldrons of magical con-cock-tions made with severed penises and testicles".
These same people must have been surprised to learn that a hurricane is not just a fruity alcoholic cocktail served in New Orleans, but a tropical cyclone with high winds.
Well, thank goodness we have the internet so people can learn the true meaning of words.
For it seems that in this time increasing amounts of people make assumptions about what things mean, rather than actually reading and learning the deeper meanings (as I'm sure many people will do who will comment on this article on Facebook based upon the headline without actually clicking to read these paragraphs).
Yet, there is hope for the perpetuation of greater knowledge, as Twitter recently doubled their tweet space to allow up to 280 characters - though that move created controversy as some declared that 280 characters were "unreadable".
At this rate, the word of 2020 might just be literacy.
You see, feminism is the desire for those of the female sex to have equal opportunity in politics, business and life. Crazy talk, huh?
But women already are equal! Right?
Nope. Sorry. Not yet. Not in the USA.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was proposed in 1923 to add to the US Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all sexes.
Here now, 95 years later, it has never passed despite ongoing attempts.
That's right, women are still NOT considered equal in the USA, thus continuing to permit discrimination in a myriad of ways including the gender pay-gap, control of women's reproductive lives, higher insurance rates, and so much more.
Not to mention other countries where women are not allowed to go to school, to show their skin, to drive a car, and it's legal to murder your wife, daughter or sister. So sure, we got it pretty good in comparison to some places, but we can do much much better.
In my junior high literature class, during our study of the art of debate, I choose to participate in a discussion on the ERA (obviously on the pro-side).
It was an eye-opening topic to research, and I even wrote a letter to the National Organization for Women (NOW) seeking any information to help me understand the stalemate on this proposed amendment. They responded with a lovely supportive letter encouraging my studies, a packet of information, and sent me a vintage '70's button pin saying "ERA YES" which I victoriously wore to class on the day of the discussion.
During the live debate, I was startled to see the intensely emotional responses to my articulate key points for women's equality by my fellow students.
Two boys had ganged up to work together to debate just me, as they were furious that I was advocating for women's rights. In opposition to my well-prepared positioning they started turning red with anger, and shouting out infantile arguments like, "Women are stupid!".
They were even more mad when I won the debate.
Double decades later, people are still unsure of what feminism means, as the Women's March on DC, the #MeToo movement, and the release of "Wonder Woman" and "The Handmaid's Tale" all have led to spikes in the search for this word's meaning.
The greatest uptick of "feminism" searches came in response to the statement made by KellyAnne Conway, Trump's White House Counselor, when she said she didn't identify as a feminist this year because she thought the term was "very anti-male" and "very pro-abortion".
This is a great example of an assumptionator (a word which I think should be added to the dictionary in 2018, as it's a rising trend today, meaning someone who habitually makes assumptions without learning anything about what they are talking about).
Feminism is NOT anti-male.
Feminism is an ideal for women and men to have EQUAL rights, not for women to trump men. Women do not want to have a higher rank or standing than men, they just want to have access to the same opportunities that men are granted in today's society.
Yet, this is clearly misunderstood by many more than just the President's token female ambassador (or is that Ivanka?).
Feminism is Needed Today
I've dealt with sexism all my life. From men and women.
Like the time my male coworker who was habitually late to his job because of a heroin addiction got a raise months before me, because he was male, even though I worked harder, did a better job, and covered his shifts repeatedly when he was too messed up to show up.
Or the time in high school that I was subjected to an all-girls assembly where we were lectured on how to cross our legs because we were told female students sitting with uncrossed legs was a distraction to the male teachers.
Or the time when my first son was a baby, and I was a live-in dorm-head at a high school boarding school and the male Dean told me I shouldn't be working there because I was a mother, I should just be baking cookies.
Even now in 2017, when I posted an article on my Facebook page about how totally biologically false information about women's bodies was being spouted by a male celebrity today, I dealt with comments from people saying I was "obviously a man-hater".
Really? Dispelling myths about how a women's reproductive system actually works is hating on men?
I love men. Men are amazing. I have a great husband and three sons. This year I moved back to my hometown and live near my father.
While my work and passion is for women's empowerment and wellness, my personal life is one in which I am surrounded by males whom I love and adore (and who outnumber me, as the only other female in the vicinity is the neighborhood stray cat).
I am grateful for conscious men in my life who support my work, my writing, and want to see me, and all the women in their lives succeed in fulfilling their dreams.
Women's issues effect men as well. All people are born from the body of a woman. All men who love women suffer when they see their beloveds abused by a system that allows widespread sexual violence and rape culture to spread.
Yet in 2017, I also saw another "women's empowerment" teacher write online about how she did not identify as a feminist because she feels it promotes the victimization of women, because wanting a women president or equal pay is crap, and that advocating for women's rights is "femi-nazi propaganda".
I have a whole lot to say about this but didn't bother responding as her husband was the one jumping in the discussion to attack her commentators, saying he was totally qualified to respond for her - because he was her husband (eye roll).
Though people responded that the ACTUAL DEFINITION of feminism is for EQUAL rights, those against feminism seem to think that they can make up their own definitions of what it means based upon their assumptions.
Claiming that feminism victimizes women is like telling women who are speaking up about a lifetime of sexual abuse in the #MeToo movement to just shut up and get over it.
Calling the desire for a female president or equal pay for women crap is like saying you believe that men deserve to earn more money than women, even if the women's job is harder and she works longer hours, because penises are the ultimate symbol of American prosperity.
Calling feminism "femi-nazi propaganda" is spouting a hateful derogative term coined by Rush Limbaugh, an ultra-conservative radio-show host who believes that feminism was created by "unattractive women".
Another "women's empowerment" advocate posted on social media recently that she wasn't a feminist because she didn't want to fight for equal pay, she wanted to just stay home and let her man chop wood and carry water.
Really? Women, be careful what women's empowerment leaders you follow, for "empowerment" has been just as co-opted as the word "feminism" and people don't seem to understand WTF that means anymore either.
Empowerment is about growing stronger in confidence and claiming one's rights.
If you're a women who likes having the the right to own property, vote, work in a government position, access contraceptives, or be able to keep your own paycheck - thank a feminist for your empowerment.
Feminism supports men too. Do men deserve to have to pick up the slack for women? To have to support women who don't want to lift a finger to do any of the hard work of life?
Is this the 1950's or the new millennium?
I'm not sure sometimes, after all we STILL live in a culture in which etiquette says that a married woman should be addressed as Mrs. Husband's First and Last Name, and in which over 70% of American's believe that women should take their husband's name after marriage, and over 50% believe the government should legally enforce that. Yes, we live in a culture in which women are expected to be erased of their own names after marriage - first and last - oh but just for formal addresses, you know for all the important events in one's life.
Well thank goodness people are googling the real meaning of feminism, and hopefully more people can understand that feminism means the equality of rights for all sexes.
Don't let political pundits warp the true meaning of the word through their negative assumptions and derogatory statements that are designed to keep us apart.
Word of the Year
I'm glad that feminism is the word of the year because it means people are open to learning and actively looking for clarity and greater knowledge.
Because hopefully some people will understand that definitions matter, and that making your own assumptions about what other people believe or what things mean is being complicit with the spread of fake news, and lacks empathy for the real challenges facing women globally today.
Let's be clear - feminists want equal rights for ALL people.
Men can also be feminists too.
Feminists may have different opinions about specific issues such as abortions, military drafts, and unisex bathrooms, but equal access to jobs, pay, insurance, and healthcare, as well as protection from sexual violence are issues that I believe most feminists can agree upon.
It's not about taking any power away from men, or having power over men, it's about being partners, collaborators, and co-creators in the pursuit of a balanced culture.
It's about speaking out against a system of oppression that disenfranchises people, and that locks-arms with racism and classism, and creates an impediment to peace, prosperity and justice for all.
You can be a feminist and live YOUR life however you want whether that's in an apron or combat boots, but if you say "I'm not a feminist" you are standing up FOR a corrupt system that perpetuates sexual violence and hate.
You can be a feminist and be a stay-at-home mother.
You can be a feminist and be a stripper.
You can be a feminist and embrace all the feminine things in life that you enjoy.
You can be a feminist and LOVE MEN.
You can be a feminist and have a man in your life who chops your firewood and stokes your fire.
You can be a feminist and support women's empowerment while also not trying to actively break any corporate glass ceilings.
It doesn't mean you have to act like a man, or reject the unique aspects of female biology and cycles.
You can be a feminist and advocate for men's rights too.
It just means you think all people deserve fairness and respect.
It means that you believe women deserve equal rights. That's it.
If you are against feminism you are supporting the inequality of women.
Basically, if your not a feminist you're a male chauvinist, regardless of your gender.