Sorry Feminists

October 17, 2012

By Raleigh-Elizabeth.

Have you seen the #sorryfeminist hashtag? It started when the editor of T magazine tweeted that she had seen “the sexy (sorry, feminists), smart, sassy Katie Roiphe live on stage @nypl on Wednesday night.” Most tweets about writers and the New York Public Library don’t start memes, but #sorryfeminists did. From clever to cute, the conversation ran the gauntlet. Can you be sexy, smart, sassy, and also a feminist?

My favorite tweet: ”I cried during the Notebook. #sorryfeminists.”

Are you a feminist? I am. At least, I think I am. I may have cried during the Notebook, but I’m also a strong, independent woman. I’m a military wife who battens down the hatches for deployments and can change her own tires. I make a killer apple pie and consider cookbooks bedtime reading. I went to a women’s college and I watched Dawson’s Creek every Tuesday night. I have absolutely no idea what that makes me. #sorryfeminists?

Remember when feminists used to be braless, angry fighters? What do you think it means to be a feminist today? (And what decidedly un-feminist characteristics do you wholeheartedly embrace?)

Hand-sewn flag by Megan Savoy.

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{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

1 shadygrove October 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

Oh, boy. Can we not go here? Just this morning I thought to myself how curious I was about how Design Mom would handle political issues, but now I wish I hadn’t had the thought!

I’m a strong feminist. It means that I think men and women deserve equal rights, opportunities, and freedoms. It doesn’t mean I police other women’s likes and dislikes. It doesn’t mean I criticize other women’s abilities or lack of abilities. Being a feminist means that I try to support the women and men I know, and try to fight oppression — that’s it. I’m not sure who came up with the idea that feminists were “angry, braless fighters” (and what would be wrong with that anyway?), but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a feminist.

Feminists recognize that criticizing other women for liking typically feminine things is based on disrespecting typically feminine things — and that’s misogynistic, not feminist. So find me a feminist who hates you for liking the color pink, or wearing lipstick, or not being able to change your tires. She doesn’t exist. She was made up by people who decidedly aren’t feminists, who don’t like the idea of women working together for a better world for all of us.

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2 Carla October 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

Hear, hear. I was composing my reply and didn’t see yours. You said exactly what I was thinking much more eloquently.

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3 Barbara October 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

word.

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4 Kate October 18, 2012 at 11:28 am

Yes, shadygrove! Hear, hear.

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5 Alexandra October 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

Well said!

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6 Allie October 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Yes! Also, not only equal rights, but equal pay for equal work.

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7 Allison October 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Yes.

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8 Tricia October 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Yay! Thank you.

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9 Carol October 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

In total agreement! Thank you.

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10 Puja October 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm

As Carla said ““What decidedly un-feminist characteristics do you wholeheartedly embrace” entirely misses the point of feminism.” and I agree with all the other comments also. I think there is one point that I do want to bring up (and pardon me, my writing or english is not the best) -

What infuriates me is that there isn’t enough talk going on anymore – when you do try and bring up the topic you are told to “stop whining about every little thing”. What good is it if we have laws that are equal but the reality (and society) is very different? Read caitlin moran or watch Sheryl Sandberg give a great talk (http://bit.ly/hcnwRz)

And I do think that not enough people (women and men) discussing this issue is especially terrible for our young kids. Read http://huff.to/OVERB9

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11 christina October 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

amen.

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12 Martha Frances October 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Absolutely.

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13 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay October 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Woot!

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14 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:33 am

Wow! Fun to check in after a busy day and see such a lively discussion.

@Shadygrove, your response surprised me. I see this less as a political discussion, and more a discussion about women. I’m a long-time, dedicated feminist and I think I demonstrate that in my actions and words clearly.

But I found Raleigh-Elizabeth’s post very interesting and definitely thought it was worth sharing here. It’s no secret that some people, even bright and capable people, are uncomfortable with the word “feminist”. I’m not one of them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a real concern.

I maintain that Raleigh’s take on the subject is spot-on for many readers as they mentally struggle with the different meanings and takes on the word feminist, what it means to be feminine, and how the two terms relate, if at all.

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15 Jody October 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

Gabrielle,
I completely agree. I think many of us are struggling with the many meanings of the word feminist. I remember going to college with a very conservative Catholic girl who was furious when someone asked her if she was a feminist. She was completely offended. We spoke about it later and she said that for her, a feminist was someone who turned their back on family values.
I was so saddened, because for me being a feminist means quite the opposite.
FWIW, I don’t see this blog as turning political via this post. This is a family/women’s issue, not political.

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16 Beaula October 18, 2012 at 7:21 am

Great Answer! I couldn’t believe that this post was up here, whys cant we keep a design blog, UNPOLITICAL please? I mean, if we got politics involved I wouldn’t even read a mormon’s blog!

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17 Kat October 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Bam! You said it all, lady.

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18 CC October 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

shadygrove I love you! My thoughts exactly, and those braless women were angry and fighting against tremendous inequality in America, our daughters would not have the amazing opportunities they enjoy today if it were not for these women.

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19 Laura October 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

To me, if you believe that women are just as smart, capable, and deserving of respect as men, you’re a feminist. What you do in your spare time, how you dress, or what you do for a living has nothing to do with it.

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20 Marilyn C. Cole October 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

So true.

“Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.”

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21 Issa October 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

I think you can be a strong, smart, capable woman, without being a feminist. Or maybe that’s just how I see myself. Maybe I really am a feminist. It’s hard to say, because everyone has a different opinion of what counts as a feminist.

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22 Mel C. October 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

If you are a strong, smart, capable woman, why wouldn’t you be a feminist? Not trying to be snarky, I’m honestly curious why some smart women are uncomfortable claiming the title. If you are smart and capable, you should understand you deserve equality! And if you are strong, you should be able to stand up for feminism, even if other people have weird ideas about what that might mean.

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23 Carla October 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

I think Gloria Steinem, and other feminists active in the 1970s might take issue with your characterization of them as “bra-less, angry fighters.” I also think your question “What decidedly un-feminist characteristics do you wholeheartedly embrace” entirely misses the point of feminism. According to the Oxford English dictionary a feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.” No where in the definition does it state to embrace feminism means you lack feminine characteristics.

I am a feminist; I wear high heels and lipstick. I bake cookies and write speeches for CEOs. I believe in equality for me and for my daughter and for women all over the world. None of these characteristics make me any less of a feminist. In developed nations like Canada where I live, and the US where you live, women still earn less than men for jobs of equal value, we pay more for dry cleaning than men and for haircuts (some men’s styles are much more complicated than trimming my hair which is all one length).

I am not familiar with the sorryfeminist hashtag. It is disheartening that in 2012 women think a feminist cant be sexy. Who says feminists can’t cry during sad movies?

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24 patricia October 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

good good!

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25 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:39 am

I am a feminist too. A strong one. And personally I have no negative feelings for the word and claim it proudly. But I wouldn’t pretend that when many people use the world “feminist” that they are thinking of a dictionary definition.

When we discussed swearing the other day, we talked about how we bring meaning to the words. The f-word has a dictionary definition, but that’s rarely how it’s used — at least in New York.

I think if you checked out the #sorryfeminist hashtag, you might decide it’s actually really funny and totally relevant for our times and the discussions that are being had about feminism. As I mentioned, I’m a staunch feminist but I found the hashtag humorous.

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26 Julie October 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

Ah yes, those braless, angry fighters who made the life I lead now possible. What fools they were, right?

Is this a joke? There is no such thing as an un-feminist (sic!) characteristic. Feminism is all about making women feel free to lead any life they choose. I guess the only “un-feminist” characteristic I can think of is ignorance. #sorrydesignmom

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27 amy October 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I see a generational divide here. The careless comment of “braless, angry fighters” is outrageously disrespectful, coming from someone who has benefited greatly from those in-your-face tactics of previous generations. After all, Raleigh-Elizabeth, you are a woman who is earning money by writing on a web site owned by a woman. You probably vote. Went to college. Early feminists were angry – wouldn’t you be if you could not do any of those things just because you were a woman? Asking nicely wasn’t going to change anything. We all should get on our knees and pay homage to those women who marched, burned bras, and had righteous anger about being excluded from large swaths of society so all of us could choose how we want to live our lives – at home, in the office, in a tree, in a sparkly dress, whatever. And, y’all, we don’t need another word, we just need to understand what feminism really means. #sorrydesignmom

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28 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:42 am

I’ve never met Raleigh-Elizabeth in real life. And I can’t pretend to read her mind. But based on the writing I’ve seen from her, and the tone in this particular article, I interpreted this line very differently.

When she says, “Remember when feminists used to be braless, angry fighters?” I felt like she was saying: Remember that silly stereotype? Thank goodness we’ve moved beyond it.

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29 Rachel October 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

That is such a good question. When I hear the word feminist, I think angry man-haters. That doesn’t describe me at all. But Like Laura said up there I do “believe that women are just as smart, capable, and deserving of respect as men” so maybe I am a feminist.

I think we just plain need another word.

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30 Julie October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

..or maybe you need to change your thinking?

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31 Allie October 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

ditto, Julie :) We aren’t done with the word “feminism” because we aren’t done with feminism.

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32 katharine October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

There is nothing wrong with the word feminist but there is something wrong with people who try to make it a negative. My husband is a feminist who believes in equal opportunity and respect for females as well as males.

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33 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:46 am

Katharine, I don’t think anyone here is trying to make the word negative. I think the word is negative for some people because of their life experiences. There are people they’ve been cruelly judged by that call themselves feminist.

You call yourself a feminist, and you might be wonderful. But there are a wide range of feminists and not all of them are people I want to call my friends.

34 Tricia October 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Have you thought about why associate the word with anger and hate, rather than equal rights? If there is anger and hate out there, let’s get rid of that, rather than a good word and the belief that men and women are equal.

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35 debbie October 20, 2012 at 6:04 am

we don’t need to change the word femenist any more than we need to change the word Jewish (i am both). The fact that some or many people have a hard time with a concept doesn’t mean the concept is flawed.
Did it ever occur to you that whoever started the line that: “feminists are angry man-haters” was someone who didn’t like having women stand up for themselves and demand to be treated eaqually? The fact that so many women today don’t know that all thier freedom was fought for and won by women all over the world makes me sad. it should be taught in schools
I’ve been a proud feminist ever since my clooge professor told us – if you believe men and women should have the same rights, are capable of being anything or doing anything… – then you are a feminist.. deal with it

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36 Babs October 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi, I’d just like to give you this link to a Feminism 101 space on the internet. :) It is a great resource to provide some “thinking points”.

I am a feminist that is radical in her beliefs about women because:

It is still a radical act to think that women are equal to men.

It is still a radical act to not allow slurs or sexist comments about other women (especially if those comments are made BY other women.)

It is still a radical act to choose ones own fate/life/career/whathaveyou as a woman – whatever that may look like for the individual!

I support ALL women in their choices, I believe they are ALL equal to men, I believe ALL women deserve my respect, even if they don’t agree with me politically. I believe in WOMEN.

I am a feminist. I, personally, don’t want another word.

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37 Sur October 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

loving every word u wrote!

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38 Babs October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

Aaaaand I’m a dork and forgot the link!! HA!!!

http://www.shakesville.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html

Also, as to “un-feminist traits”, what exactly are those? The only trait I can think of that is “un-feminist” is to not believe women are equal to men in all respects and that they are not in any way “less than” because of their gender.

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39 Jillian L October 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Amen!

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40 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:51 am

I like your thinking, Babs! I’m pretty sure not everyone approaches feminist thinking with such clear simplicity, but it would be nice if they did.

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41 Tina October 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

We need another word? Everyone has a different opinion of what counts as a feminist? Um, no. Words have meanings. Feminism means this, plain and simple:

the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

If you do not believe that as a woman you deserve equal rights, then, no, you are not a feminist. If you do believe that as a woman you deserve equal rights, then, yes, you are. What color you wear, what movies you like, what emotions you have, what you can or can’t do with a tire does not factor in.

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42 Amanda P October 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm

This. Exactly.

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43 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:55 am

I don’t know. I’m finding the dictionary definitions less-helpful. I agree with the meaning of the word you put forth. But. I also see many other definitions of feminism put forth. And I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with all of them.

Clearly not everyone agrees on what the word means and that’s why discussions like this are so important. Raleigh-Elizabeth specifically asked:

“What do you think it means to be a feminist today?”

I think that was a legitimate, respectful question. To assume that there is only one meaning for everyone, seems un-realistic.

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44 Kelsey October 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

Feminism is about equality for all people, regardless of gender or physical sex. It’s for men who feel pressured into typical roles of breadwinning and feuding and whatever else, unable to express their more ‘sensitive’ feelings because they’ve been raised to think that those feelings are inherently emasculating. It’s for women who are raised to avoid conflict and smooth things over, who feel like being a little rough and tumble needs to be qualified with “I’m a tomboy”. It’s for trans* women, it’s for trans* men, it’s for people of color and it’s not something that you need to apologize for. Your interests, whatever they are, ought to be accepted as fact– not qualified with “but you’re a boy!” or “but little girl’s don’t..”.

Your gender, however you identify, is a mere facet to your identity and crying during movies or whatever else that defies or exemplifies stereotypes doesn’t warrant an apology. /People/ are allowed to like pink, girls and boys and anyone in between. /People/ are allowed to like hunting and military memorabilia, they’re allowed to like to hunt for mushrooms in the woods and play with their dog. Feminism ensures that people do not feel inadequate for feeling the way they do, because people are individuals first and how their behaviour relates to their perceived gender roles is (or ought to be) irrelevant to their sense of self.

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45 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

I really like this comment, Kelsey. I’m married to a feminist and we’ve experimented with traditional roles (like bread-winning) throughout our marriage.

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46 Barbara October 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

yep!

I only want to add that supporting women in their choices should not be mutually exclusively from exposing and pushing back against the constraints women face in making those choices. we all live in this world and make the best decisions we can to lead successful and satisfying lives. but that doesn’t that men & women face the same set of limitations when making choices about whether to be a working parent, plastic surgery, etc. changing the norms, changes our choices.

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47 Allison October 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I’d like to think that most every person I know is a feminist–that is, someone who believes that men and women are equal and deserve to be treated equally. Period.

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48 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:57 am

I like this. I like assuming people around me are feminists even if they have a different feeling about the word than I do.

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49 patricia October 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

guilty as charged.

I’d like to think that because of the women’s movement and its influence, I can call myself a feminist while staying at home raising my daughter. Why? Because it’s my choice. Before the women’s movement, this was not our choice, it was the only way for women. Now, feminists come in many different sizes and shapes. And I thank these first feminists for that.

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50 Sarah October 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Wonderful answer! I am not a mom and I am certainly a feminist. I think that anyone that puts down stay-at-home-moms is completely wrong! Besides the fact that it is your choice, it is a difficult job which is why there are nannies, housekeepers, and accountants (to name a few rolls that moms play) out there for hire for those who have made other choices. In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf talks about the amount of work women do for free in the home and that if we were paid for that work, middle class families would be bankrupt. Saying that women’s work is not worthy compared to a traditional career is a huge disrespect towards all women!

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51 Tiff October 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

I wish we DID use another word. My pick: humanist.

I believe in rights and opportunities for women AND children AND the poor AND men (if I hear one more person assume that because my husband is a man, he must be a child trapped in an adult body who only thinks about sex….aargh) AND anyone else who is born into the human race.

I think we have come a long way in the past 200 years in allowing people of any age, gender, race, or persuasion to live a life that allows you to become your best self. But of course we have a long way to go still.

Let’s keep fighting FOR each other, instead of with each other…..

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52 Amanda P October 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Humanist is a great word, and I would hope that most feminists are humanists as well. But as many commenters above have said, “feminism” has a definition. And that definition is still so relevant in our society where women are still not treated with equality.

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53 Janan W October 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Ditto Tiff about the Husband! I hate the demonizing of men in our culture today:)

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54 Heather October 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

Hey Raleigh-Elizabeth – Bet you didn’t expect these kinds of responses :).

I have to say that the author of the original quote was commenting on the fact that we, as women, should not comment on the looks of other women. That it takes away from our other qualities: “smart, sassy…”. To me, that was funny. I think the author was saying, “even though I know I shouldn’t say this…I’m going to anyway cause she’s hot.”

The truth is…feminism has meant a lot of things. And while “braless, angry fighters” were a stereotype of feminists in the 60′s (which stemmed from some truth, by the way. There was a lot to be angry about at that time…and what’s so wrong with not wearing a bra?), there have been many other types of feminism…radical (my favorite), marxist, socialist, post-modern (my least favorite).

Women often get chastised for being emotional (while men are congratulated for showing heart and their “softer side”)…I have been. Especially because I do call myself a feminist. I wish we lived in a perfect world where everyone could be exactly who he or she is…but we don’t. I’m sure we have all felt, at times, that we had to hide a bit of our personalities so as not to cause a raucous (because, while sometimes raucous’ are fun…there are times when they just aren’t worth it).

I think what Raleigh-Elizabeth was trying to say is that we all are not one way or the other. We are not flat, one-dimensional barbie dolls. Every person is a multi-faceted being with thoughts and feelings, none of which are all exactly the same as her neighbor’s.

I think the thing that we’re missing in this whole feminism conversation is that, even though we can and should disagree with each other, we should support one another. And…this is not a political discussion. It’s a discussion about women.

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55 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 5:59 am

Agreed Heather!

Thank you for such a reasonable response and careful reading of Raleigh-Elizabeth’s post. Your interpretation mirrors my own.

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56 Laura.R October 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

I confess that I’ve often thought of feminism as the “angry” sort that you alluded to as well…and maybe it’s because the extremes of any movement can give even a good thing a “bad name.”

If feminism still means men-bashing and thinking that women who want to stay home and do everyone’s laundry are ‘backwards’, then maybe it still means what it traditionally has to me…but I hope not! I hope that it’s evolved, as all these women commenting insist it has…to being just about celebrating women as they are, and not simply how they relate in importance to men. We’re both important, and essential (!)…so I’d like to think that feminism, now, stops at scowling down on men and seeks instead to lift women for WHOEVER they choose to be. Hope!

To answer your question, I totally love having dinner on the table for my family every night. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I love to cook and give our family some good food to gather around at the end of a day ;) I know you meant this more as a light-hearted discussion than the political-charged one it’s become…so that’s my light-hearted two-cents! Haha.

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57 Leilah October 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

But it never meant “men-bashing”.

Calling feminists men-bashers is like calling civil rights marchers white-haters. Those brave people who sat at the lunch counter weren’t angry at lunch counter owners. I mean, get serious.

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58 Laura.R October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

It may never have intended to mean men-bashing, but I think many did interpret it that way for a while. It’s very possible that I could just have run into the few oddballs that took this approach.

Usually discussions on DesignMom are more compassionate, understanding and congenial than this one has been. It’s interesting to me that THIS of all discussions would be the one bringing out the claws and harsh comments.

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59 Jane October 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I wonder what you are considering harsh comments? Calling feminists “angry fighters” and their actions “men-bashing” is name calling where I come from. I’m proud women are standing up against that kind of language

btw “bringing out the claws” always strikes me as demeaning. What would you call men who are debating an issue I wonder? Passionate? Spirited?

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60 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:06 am

I think the tone of Raleigh-Elizabeth’s article clearly suggests she herself is a feminist and that she wasn’t name-calling anyone, but instead, referring to an outdated, extreme notion of feminism.

61 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:04 am

I agree with Laura.R. The word feminist never intended to mean men-bashing, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t take on that meaning for many, many people.

It seems counter-productive to assume no one has felt that way about the word simply because it’s not part of the official definition.

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62 Leilah October 18, 2012 at 9:59 am

There are many, many people who have negative feelings about people who identify as “Islamic” too, but that doesn’t mean we need to work around those feelings.

I’ll always stand up against racist or sexist stereotypes.

63 Alison October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I am a feminist because I love being a woman and because I believe *collectively* we have the power (and calling) to heal the world……….

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64 Sarah October 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I’m so delighted to read how many women describe themselves as feminists. In college, I took a women’s studies course and only three of us raised our hand on the first day when asked, “How many of you consider yourselves feminists?” It’s obvious many of them were ignorant to what it really means to be a feminist (that women are equal to men, at it’s most basic definition) and I was surprised that so many smart, independent New York women (in that class, no less) didn’t know that.

I don’t think anyone should shy away from calling themselves a feminist. MEN TOO!

I’m also excited that we are “taking back” domestic interests (crafting, cooking, family, etc)! Doing it on our own terms. Girl power!

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65 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:06 am

I was delighted too!

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66 Jody October 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

Sarah,

LOVE what you said about ‘taking back’ domestic interest. I feel so fortunate to be a wife and mother in 2012.

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67 Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

In 1961, my mother couldn’t get a credit card unless my father signed the application for her and then it was in his name. I’m often surprised that women in their 20′s and 30′s have no idea that fifty years ago this was a common practice, but I suppose that suggests that those “angry” women actually did something that succeeded.

I’m grateful to the women who were willing to push back against the system that said that only men could do certain things. I own my own business, earned my graduate degree and have owned my own home and never had to get my father’s permission to do any of that.

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68 Gina October 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

In 2012, I can’t make a dentist appointment for myself without my husband, because his employer-provided dental benefits are in his name (I’m listed as a dependent along with our daughter.)

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69 Ann October 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

that is not related to gender. if you held the policy through your employer and he was the dependent, he would not be able to take action without you.

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70 Gina October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Good point : )

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71 Jennifer October 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Right and being able to borrow money for a mortgage or establish a credit history in your own name should be gender neutral. And not something that you have to get permission from a man related to you for you to be able to pursue.

My point was that the bank was looking for my father’s permission for my mother to obtain a credit card, it was not something she could do on her own. And if she hadn’t been married, she would have had to have her father’s signature granting her his permission to do so.

She was employed, by the way, so it wasn’t their money she was relying upon to pay her credit card bill.

72 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

I’m grateful for these women too! And proud to call myself a feminist. I hope I’m modeling feminist thinking for the next generation.

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73 Leilah October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

also, not to bring the political into it, but there are people who think women need to leave work at 5 so they can “get home and make dinner for their families”

omg. o. m. g.

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74 Therese October 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I am a feminist and I believe in equality between men and women and anyone who believes so is one too. I am a feminist and will never apologize for it.

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75 Kristi October 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm

leilah.. I have to say, that I think it’s wonderful there are people who think women should have THE CHOICE to leave work at 5 so they can “get home & make dinner for their families” if that is their heart’s desire.

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76 Leilah October 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

yeah, but there are jobs when that’s not always possible. ask your local cop or your waitress tonight or your trusty surgeon — that’s me! or, one would assume, your chief of staff.

I work in a high pressure field and, at a certain age, we ALL of us say, “I”ve put in my time. Now I have kids. I can’t do 16 hours anymore”. But NOBODY talks about women and “making dinner for her family” in the same sentence. If my boss said, “Oh look at the time, Leilah has to get home to make dinner for her kids” I would lose my mind!

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77 Becky October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

This, exactly.
And why is no one looking at the men in the office and thinking, “Gee, it’s 5, I bet they need to get home and get cooking?”
Frankly, if equal pay was the norm and the glass ceiling wasn’t an issue, maybe more men would choose to (and be expected to) be the primary caretaker-of-sick-kids/maker-of-dinners/attender-of-PTA-meetings or what-have-you.

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78 SarahBeth October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

To me, being a feminist means equality, but most certainly not sameness. Men and women have vastly different strengths and characteristics, and we must celebrate the importance of these differences. I also believe feminism means supporting the choices other women make — to work, to stay home, to have 10 children, to have no children, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women state that stay-at-home moms aren’t contributing to society as whole-heartedly as working moms, or that working moms don’t love their kids as much as stay-at-home moms. Any self proclaimed feminist who criticizes another woman for her choices, in the name of feminism, is a very lousy feminist at best.

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79 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:09 am

“Any self proclaimed feminist who criticizes another woman for her choices, in the name of feminism, is a very lousy feminist at best.”

Well put.

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80 Barbara October 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

I just want to sort of repeat what I said above because I think it’s really important that we take care not to mistake critically thinking about the parameters of women’s choices with criticizing an individual woman’s “choice.” For example, that women are by-and-large the ones “choosing” to give up their financial independence to stay home and care for children is something important that requires evaluation. Gender expectations and sacrifices that women make to meet them are something important that require evaluation. We are all individuals and we make decisions on the basis of what will benefit us and hopefully help us achieve worthy and satisfying lives. But that individuals are happy and satisfied with their “choices” or are making the most rational choice to meet their personal and financial needs doesn’t mean we should ignore the context and the consequences of the choices we are all making. It’s the only way we can move forward. Equality for me is not “isn’t it great that women can choose to stay home or go to work.” That really is a consequence of the continued sexism that expects women to take on lions’ share of domestic work and child care at the expense of her own financial independence. A place where men and women are expected to be just as responsible for domestic work and child care? Now that’s a place I want to go. And that requires that we be rid of the assumption that there is one person at home that is solely responsible for domestic work as part of the foundation of our labor structure.

Judging women for their individual choices is not feminist. But our choices are what expose the underlying problems and what norms need to change to foster equality.

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81 Jenny October 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

This post has been responded to by a lot of feminists that I wish I had met out on the street. I like that people are saying feminism is about choices. That has not been my experience with women (particularly from the generation previous to mine) who call themselves feminists. I am a stay at home mom by choice and I have had more than one well meaning woman tell me I am wasting my life and wasting all the hard work that feminists put in to allow me the “right” to go to work.

Perhaps the author’s harsh description of feminists comes from her past experiences with critical, condescending “feminists” who don’t respect the choices other women make. I would like feminism to be about celebrating the strength of all women, not disparaging the lifestyle of those of us who chose to be with our families and not out in the work place.

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82 Jillian L October 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm

You go, Jenny!! I celebrate you and your choices! Yay feminism!

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83 Janan W October 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm

hear-hear.

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84 Chrissy October 18, 2012 at 1:37 am

Yes. Exactly. As a result the word “feminist” now leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I say it. And this didn’t happen a long time ago…it happened at the last party i went to. And at my kids preschool. And once at a picnic. And in college.

I have never felt a need to label my belief that we are all created equal on this earth. Why does it need a name, why do I need a title? I believe something that is self-evident. Whether others believe it or not is not my concern. It is not up to me to dictate to them…any more than I would want them to dictate to me what I should believe, do, think, say. Much ground has been gained in the past several decades but we still judge one another when we disagree instead of realizing that being able to disagree is the real freedom. When we can observe the disagreement of others with peace in our hearts, as I have taken in the criticisms of others for staying home for my family, then that is a progression that will make a positive and reverberative impact on our lives.

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85 Annie October 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I’m always kind of surprised when I hear women balk at the term feminist. At its core, isn’t feminism the idea that both sexes should be treated equally? It doesn’t define your personality or your favorite movies or how attractive you are or how aggressive you are. It just means that you support equal rights. What’s wrong with that?

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86 Puja October 18, 2012 at 2:18 am

Agree! (Esp men)

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87 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:10 am

Again, no negative connotation of the word for me, but I can’t say it surprises me that other people balk at the term. Some people don’t want anyone else to define them.

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88 Matoaka October 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

“This post has been responded to by a lot of feminists that I wish I had met out on the street. I like that people are saying feminism is about choices.”

I totally agree, Jenny. I think that today’s women who are stay at home moms, volunteers, business owners, college students, are the new feminists who represent real choices for women and not the feminist “laws” that were laid out for us to follow in the recent past.

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89 Amy October 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Jenny and Matoaka,

I would like to gently remind you that you have the choice of what you want to do because many women before you did not. Perhaps they seem like “laws” to you, but consider that when women first began to work in a professional capacity, they were blacklisted or fired if they took much time off for a baby, wanted to stay home for a year, or showed any sign of maternal “weakness.” How many young women did not get that job because “they’ll just get pregnant and quit?” How many women did not get into medical school because they would be taking “a man’s place?” So women tied on those floppy ties and marched off to work, without ANY of the societal (childcare) or legal (Lily Ledbetter law) supports that exist today. They really did “take one for the team” and expected a lot of each other. That’s the only way change could happen. Whether you call them “laws” or “reality,” that’s what it was like a few decades ago.

I am uncomfortable only speaking about professional jobs and women who can choose to stay home. Feminism has also positively affected women who have to work, some of whom may work in service jobs without much prestige or even a living wage. Feminism means something else to them, but I hope it means that they have better wages, childcare options, and healthcare because those “women’s libbers” fought hard for equal pay, services for women and their children, and other protections that keep many out of the streets.

I am saddened to read so much lack of respect for those women who worked and sacrificed so much that I could own a business, have flex time to be the one who picked up my kids from school, and make enough money to support myself if my husband should die or divorce me (yes, those are real and practical applications of feminism, too). Of course those pioneers had to be somewhat strident to bring about change, and goodness knows, we’re still not done. 78 cents on the dollar? What’s that about?

It will be interesting to see what another two decades bring. But I do hope it brings appreciation for the sacrifices of that women in the past made that allow us to live the lives we do, just like I am ever grateful to the women who marched and rallied and went against their husbands to gain the right for us to vote – even if that means some women will vote for officials who do not support their rights. But the point is, women have the choice to vote for whom they want. It wasn’t always that way, and it takes angry fighters to bring about change.

So, Matoaka, “real choices” was always the goal. But it wasn’t until recent generations that it existed. And remember, for many of our sisters, it still doesn’t exist. So keep fighting that good fight and never forget how fortunate you are.

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90 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay October 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Well said!

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91 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:11 am

“I am saddened to read so much lack of respect for those women who worked and sacrificed so much”

There may be a lack of understanding, but I don’t think there’s a lack of respect.

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92 Jillian L October 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Did you know that the bra-burning feminists of yore are actually a myth? So interesting! Makes me think of all the things purported feminists are “supposed to be like.”
I too went to a women’s college (Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, IN) and one of the best things I gained from my education there was how to be a strong, confident woman trying to make a difference in the world.
Done are the days (or at least they should be!) of those stereotypical feminists. ANYONE can be a feminist! To me, being a feminist means supporting women, being for women’s rights- and to think broadly about that! Nicholas Kristof, awesome NYTimes, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, spoke at my school when I was still there about his book he wrote with his wife, Half the Sky. It’s about how supporting women and girls all over the world- basic needs, education, and beyond- can change the world. It was just turned into a PBS documentary which I’m dying to see.
I’d challenge Americans to see feminism as a powerful tool to be used globally- not just in America as referring to those crazy past stereoypes.
:)

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93 Janan W October 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Did you know they fully intended to burn the bras, but were stopped from lighting the fire by police? Intention counts.

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94 Janan W October 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Easy people. You’ve had your head in the sand if you can’t admit that the face of feminism has changed. Not many years ago if you let a man open a door for you then some might say you were not a feminist. Or if you let a man pay for you on a date then some might say you were not a feminist. And yes there were angry (many with good reason) braless women! Etc…. While I am thankful for the women who came before me I also realize that some elements of that were extreme. Only recently has it really become OKAY to again be a stay at home mom. (and thus the angry stay-at-homers, like ME:) To me real CHOICE, the choice to be ME, is the greatest accomplishment of feminism.

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95 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:13 am

“You’ve had your head in the sand if you can’t admit that the face of feminism has changed. Not many years ago if you let a man open a door for you then some might say you were not a feminist.”

This is my thinking too. I feel like I’ve seen the word morph and change in my own lifetime. And I’m sure it will continue to change.

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96 Barbara October 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

Being dismissive of the position women faced historically and how radicalism was and continues to be critically important to pushing back against misogyny and sexism. Why is that these women are being painted as “extreme” and not the political system and society hat operated on the basis that women were property of their husbands or their fathers? How do you change that without radical push back and loudly redefining the role of women as human beings that have equal rights to financial independence and autonomy? The face of feminism changes because rights are secured, gender expectations change, not b/c the goals or definition of feminism changes. Thankfully, and lucky for us, women today, have a lot less to be angry about.

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97 Jessica M October 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I still love this blog! Regardless of this “juicy” article that has stirred up all kinds of retorts. Whatevs! I say: lets get on with it, inspiring stories, beautiful homes, great interviews and wonderful crafty gift ideas. All the proactive giving selfless work that Gabby does and shares with us through this great blog are ACTIONS that are far more powerful and positive than some article that wasn’t 100 percent PC…
Im still loving this blog feminist or not!!!!

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98 Kristi October 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm

YES!!

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99 Puja October 18, 2012 at 2:10 am

NO!
I don’t think anyone has disregarded all the amazing work that has been done in the past or shall come in the future.

“Whatevs!” is not acceptable here.

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100 Jessica M October 18, 2012 at 9:45 am

I think my comment is just as acceptable as anyone else’s. I wasn’t offended by the article and I wanted to share that. I come to this site for all the positive things I mentioned above and my comment was not meant to disregard the work feminist did/do/and are doing.
btw Puja I clicked on your link and you have a stunning website as well!

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101 Puja October 19, 2012 at 12:07 am

Thank you for the kind words about my website.

102 ck October 18, 2012 at 12:46 am

to me, being a feminist is really simple. It means that I believe in equal rights and opportunities for women, or put another way, for everyone. Beyond that, anything goes.

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103 Sara October 18, 2012 at 12:48 am

I think it boils down to awareness of feminism really is. It sounds to me like many women in a younger generation have not been informed or taken a Feminist studies course in college. I wear red lipstick and dresses and I bake for a living and I am a feminist.

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104 Design Mom October 18, 2012 at 6:14 am

Agreed. People seem to have a wide range of awareness of what feminism is.

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105 Erin October 18, 2012 at 7:03 am

At the root of this whole conversation, which I have been fascinated to watch as it has evolved, is the concept of apologizing to feminists. #sorryfeminists paints an image of those bra-burning, angry, and ultimately mythical feminists who can be much more easily dismissed than real women. As in any cultural issue, it is easier to object to a fantasized version of something than its true appearance. In reality, feminists come in so many styles. Women, and certainly men too, who are in favor of equality are, at their core, feminists. Whether they choose to identify in this way or not does not change what they stand for. It is so important to discredit the fear of feminism as something “other” and instead view it as an essential part of equality.

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106 J October 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

Wonderful conversation. It’s hard for me to have a sense of humor about feminism because for the last decade I’ve worked in an industry where I was almost always the only woman in the room, and the youngest. As I advance in my career, female colleagues just become more rare. It’s no wonder! I’ve been subjected to workplace porn, colleagues holding business meetings at strip clubs, interrogation about my family status during job interviews, blatant comments about the inherent inferiority of women in my graduate program, relentless criticism when pregnant (from men and women), and the reality that having children has greatly compromised my potential for advancement. Everyday I struggle with wondering whether I’m succeeding or failing by sticking it out. I recently bought a house with my savings and solely coordinated by me yet some of the papers in the signing were directed solely to my husband, who was co-signing. Also, I frequently hear criticism of the fact that my husband and I have different surnames and our children bear the combination. And I live in a “progressive” city. And compared to most of the women in the world today, I’ve got it really good! Yikes.

So I’m just not feeling in a humorous mood when it comes to wishing that gender parity didn’t still feel like an enormous, impossible battle. (Don’t even get me started on the lack of good female role characters for my daughter in tv and movies …)

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107 hyzen October 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

Most of what you describe in your workplace atmosphere is actionable, and it sounds like your employer(s) need(s) a long sit-down session with someone with HR or employment law training to make them realize the potential liability they are facing due to those actions.

But I will second your comment in general about not feeling humorous about the current state of gender parity–I work in a profession that still seems to assume everyone has a wife at home to take care of kids and basic daily needs, and very many of the men I work with do have such a person to keep their lives runing smoothly when work demands are intense. My husband is in an equally demanding field, and with no family nearby to help with our two young kids, we both find ourselves juggling to get everything done in a minimally acceptable way. And, frankly, it is clearly considered less acceptable for him (and for men where I work as well) to allow his work performance to be affected by his kids than it is for me, as a woman. So, I end up doing far more of the meals, childcare pick-ups and drop-offs, sick days, doctor’s appointments, school holidays and teacher conferences, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. etc. etc. The burden on us is not equal, and I know my work (and likely my prospects for advancement) suffers for it, if only because I am constantly exhausted and feel like I’ve already put in a full day’s work by the time I get to the office. Every woman I work with who has kids tells the same story, while I frequently get “I don’t know how you do it” comments from men I work with. Lack of rest, constant motion, and caffeine–that’s how. People should not have to live like this. And yet I know I have it good compared to most.

I’ll also second the prevalance of negative cultural influences for my daughter–at the tender ages of 3 and now 4, she has already refused to wear anything but dresses because she wants to be “pretty”, she is obsessed with vapid Disney princesses and other such insipid characters despite the fact that we don’t bring those influences into our home, she has expressed real sadness that her hair is not “golden”, but inordinate pride because it is long and shiny, etc. Where is this coming from? It concerns me.

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108 J October 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

Love the comments, here and below, Hyzen. (Leilah too!)

Just want to add that the issues I’ve experienced span MULTIPLE professional and academic environments. My naive, “post-feminism” undergrad self could have enjoyed the “sorry feminists” meme. The older and wiser me just can’t. I find Feminist Ryan Gosling much more amusing.

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109 Leilah October 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

Here’s the issue for me: this hashtag thing underscores the worst part of a sexist stereotype that is clearly still very much with us. How’s this:

I just said the pledge of allegiance. #sorrymuslims

Is that funny?

Is it because I’m a muslim and deal with this kind of crap all the time that I recognize how it’s so very NOT funny? I wonder if people who think the #sorryfeminists thing is funny are people who have not had to deal with much sexist behavior.

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110 Jessica July 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I know no one is reading this so many months later…but this comment is the best one in the whole thread and I had to tell you so.

I’m so tired of sarcasm and 140-character attention spans. Those #sorryX hashtags all perpetuate incorrect stereotypes in the name of #zomgiamsoculturallyawarelookatme. As has been discussed above, most of the tweets that precede #sorryfeminists are just blatantly incorrect and have nothing to do with feminism. Anyway, thanks, Leilah. It’s always heartening to read something sensible in a comments section.

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111 hyzen October 18, 2012 at 10:18 am

I think the term “feminist” seems to have come a long way in the last few years, if the comments here are any indication. When I was in high school (late 1990s), we read something in English class (Virginia Woolf? Maybe some Sylvia Plath?) that had all the girls prefacing their comments in class with “I’m not a feminist or anything, but I think what she’s saying here is….” This was at an academically rigorous, largely liberal, very cosmopolitan school, yet so many of the girls were afraid to be identified as “feminists” because of the very strong and rather negative connotation of the term. To her credit, our English teacher called them on those disclaimers, saying, “I *am* a feminist, and I’m interested to hear what it is about that term that bothers you.” It engendered a great class discussion.

And to be fair to Raleigh-Elizabeth and the #sorryfeminists folks, there is certainly a prominent line of feminist thinking which eschews the overwhelming cultural pressure on women to be beautiful, stylish, thin, delicate, etc., AND all of the contraptions and artifice that go with it. I can’t remember the last time I saw a man wedge his feet into uncomfortable shoes that caused him to totter about gingerly and inhibited his basic ability to walk, just because it might be considered attractive, or who painted his face because he felt the features God gave him weren’t pleasing enough in an unadorned state. But then, we wouldn’t find a man who did those things very attractive, would we? I personally prefer men who are strong, capable, smart, confident, and who focus much more on their substantive qualities than their appearance. I think the same standard is well applied to women, and is sexy for both sexes. That doesn’t mean both sexes shouldn’t pay any attention to appearance or style–I think it’s good to be well put-together, and it can be a form of self-expression as well–but I see why there can be some feminist qualms about anything from push-up bras to high heels to make-up, etc.

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112 E October 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Interesting conversation – so many different ways of seeing this topic. My own identification with this term has definitely changed over time – I remember in college being appreciative of the fact that I was on the educational/career track that I was on largely because of the action of feminists from the decades prior, but also aware that the negative connotations associated with the term did not seem to fit for me (mid 90s). I agree that while the dictionary definition of the term is crystal-clear, the cultural interpretation of ‘feminist’ has been in significant flux over the last 40+ years.
To me, one of the interesting questions raised in this conversation is how, in 2012 and going forward, do we maintain equality while acknowledging that if you have a family, it can really be tough to have both partners continue at an ‘equal’ pace. I was definitely raised with a ‘free-to-be-you-and-me’ mentality, thinking that I can do whatever I want, but the reality is that I am in a 2-physician family with one child and in order to raise him there are some compromises that need to be made. I empathize with Hyzen’s comments regarding the workplace. It would be nice to hear more conversation in general about how we, as a society, can help women and men keep moving forward in their careers (obviously only if they choose to) while also making it a little easier to also manage a home. Possible? I’m not sure, but would like to hear others opinions….

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113 Delphine October 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

This sort of thing is why feminism is still relevant:
http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dear-sarah-silverman/2012/10/11/

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114 Lauren Ashley October 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Oh man does this ever have me fired up.

Yes you can be sexy and be a feminist, yes you can cry during the Notebook and be a feminist – you can be a homemaker and be a feminist, you can love shopping, pink, lipstick, pearls, skin tight jeans, and glitter and be a feminist.

As the amazing Caitlin Moran awesomely said: Do you have a vagina? Would you like to be in charge of that vagina? If you answered yes, congratulations, you are a feminist.

What are we teaching our next generation of girls if the common perception is that you cannot be feminine and be a feminist? This is exactly why feminism is still so very relevant and important.

This is want a modern day self proclaimed Lipstick Feminist looks like: http://fancylauren.blogspot.com/2012/09/thursdays-tidbit_27.html

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115 Delphine October 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Well put, re: your paraphrase of Caitlin Moran!

What’s puzzling is this: why is aesthetics even a consideration in this particular topic? Aesthetics is wonderful and important and has its own domain. It shouldn’t figure in discussions of a socio-political issue.

To decide whether one is for or against feminism based on whether feminists can dress pretty or are obligated to have hairy armpits and a shapeless chest is as silly as trying to decide whether one is for or against slavery based on whether Lincoln’s hat is attractive or not. The relevance and value of an idea has absolutely nothing to do with the appearance of the person who is presenting it.

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116 Lauren Ashley October 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I completely agree. I don’t think the two are necessarily linked – It worries me that people seem to assume that you can’t be both girly and a feminist, when as you say, they aren’t truly connected.

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117 Barbara October 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I disagree that aesthetics is entirely irrelevant to feminism as a socio-political issue. Women’s attractiveness/youthfulness/aesthetics has very real “currency” and the lengths, costs, and sacrifices that women take on in order to meet certain gender expectations re: aesthetics in order negotiate success is pretty relevant. and at the same time, women must also endure their interest in aesthetics being dismissed as frivolity, unserious and “feminine.”

we are a part of this society, there is no way that we cannot be affected by how our society defines beauty, fun, fitness, etc. etc. etc. it’s all internalized. we don’t have to have hairy armpits and never wear lipstick, but we should at the very least acknowledge and have enough self-awareness not to ignore the subtext underlying why women get breast implants, wear six-inch heels, and sometimes spend an hour or two and a small fortune on our hair & make-up. that doesn’t mean that aesthetics isn’t wonderful or isn’t important and that it’s not incredibly uplifting to feel good about the way you look or empowering to make a statement with your individual style.

i think there is so often a natural defensiveness that comes out when there is a critique of something that a person loves to do or has done that has truly given them satisfaction. and we’ve got realize that identifying an issue with women spending thousands of dollars to go under the knife to preserve her youthfulness b/c age and unattractiveness diminish our worth out the world is not attacking women who want to look more youthful and do indeed feel better about themselves for looking more youthful.

women would be able to save a lot of money to do lots of other fun stuff if for instance, say, silver hair was considered sexy. and while, certainly, men are out there coloring their hair, salt & pepper is considered attractive for them in way it is not for women. that’s an important distinction and has meaning.

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118 jenny also October 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

So serious! Let’s play. I am addicted to Morman Mommy Blogs. #sorry feminists!!!

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119 Lauren October 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I am so pleasantly surprised by the comments here.

Huh-ell yes, I’m a feminist!

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120 Reghan October 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

What a lively discussion! I immediately thought back to an interview by Terry Gross (NPR) that I heard back in 2009. Terry talks with Ayelet Waldman about her memoir “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace”. Her perspective, being raised by a 1970s feminist mother and as she describes her childhood (listening to her mom and a “consciousness-raising” group of women from the top of the stairs), had a strong impact on me. We do owe these brave women a lot of respect – while at the same time we should examine how that movement (1970′s women in the workforce rather than earlier waves like the right to vote) impacts us today.

Read or listen to the whole interview here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103794433

OR here’s a excerpt I find relevant to this discussion:
“Ms. WALDMAN: …my mom and her friends had these incredibly frustrated professional lives, and what they raised us to do, what she raised me to do, is to live out the kind of professional experience in life that she had never managed to have.

And they never said how hard it was going to be. You know, they never – my mother never made it clear that this was going to pull me in as many directions as it was, because I don’t think she even thought so. I mean, she thought that if I had the kind of professional life that she had always longed for, then everything else would fall into place.

So I’m 44 years old, and I think I’m part of the first generation of women raised by these feminist mothers. And when I first was feeling so frustrated and depressed and angry about being stuck at home, I really kind of turned on that message, and I said, you know, this was a lie. This whole thing was a lie. We can’t have it all. And at first I was angry, but I think what ended up happening is that I have – it’s not so much that I’ve mellowed but that I’ve developed some perspective.

GROSS: How would you compare your idea of what it means to be a feminist with your mother’s?

Ms. WALDMAN: Well you know, at a very basic level, we have the same idea of what it means to be a feminist. I mean, I absolutely call myself a feminist. And by that, I mean a woman who believes that your opportunities should not be constrained by your gender, that women should be entitled to the same opportunities as men – and my mother feels that way, too.

I think the difference is, in – between women of my generation and my mother’s generation, and between my mother and me, is a kind of gradations and shades of gray.”

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121 Elizabeth October 22, 2012 at 9:16 am

I consider myself a feminist and to me that means embracing my womanhood. I’m not a man and there are roles that I only I can fill as a woman. I’m proud to be a stay at home mom who holds down the fort, cooks most of the meals, taxis the kids to school, lessons and practice. And I’m proud that my husband fills his role well. He is the breadwinner. He is there emotionally and physically for his kids. He’s their rock, example, pal. He cooks a mean Alfredo, changes diapers (I can change a tire if I had to), and he loves me with all his heart as I do him.

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122 Claudia October 23, 2012 at 6:54 am

I haven’t read all the responses, but, please, stop perpetuating the myth that feminists were ever “angry, bra-less women”.
The bra issue is just a metaphor.

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123 Ian Ironwood November 2, 2012 at 9:38 am

Ladies, something you MIGHT want to consider:

Whatever else it is, feminism is no longer an effective mating strategy. I just ran a poll on men 25-32, asked to rate their “dealmakers” and “dealbreakers” for a second date. “If she mentions feminism or says she’s a feminist” hit 56% on the “dealbreakers” and only 8% on the “dealmakers”. Regardless of your thoughts on the subject and what it means to be a feminist, it seems that the emerging opinion from the men in the world seems to be that “what it means to be a feminist” is “single”.

Just thought I’d add that. I know it’s not a concern for many of you, but for the few who do consider such things, thought you should know.

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124 Corinne July 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

I was surprised by the amount of passionate responses to this post. Clearly, even though some seem to be offended, this is a discussion we need to have. It seems most women on this site agree about the core ideology of feminism, but have different means of expressing it. I’m glad to have been exposed through the comments (though I think some have misunderstood the author’s meaning) to so many different ideas about what it means to be a feminist. I have always been a feminist at heart, even though I stay home, and often cringe at the continued over-sexualization of women and girls in the media (in some ways, it is happening more than ever before). And yet, though I stand corrected after reading some of the responses, I had that old stereotype of staunch feminism burned into my head, that some feminists are/were so extreme that we can’t even look pretty anymore without offending the goddess of feminism. I now see that yes, those early women did make huge sacrifices so that I could enjoy freedoms which I take for granted. And clearly we have a long way to go yet, as some have demonstrated. My heart goes out to those still struggling in the workplace with so many challenges left to making sure women get equal treatment, and not just lip service.

So, for me, I’m thankful for the post and the responses. I’d definitely call myself a feminist, by this definition. And thankful that I can be a stay home mom who does some traditionally female things (and not others) by choice and not be demonized by anyone for betraying women. I feel more educated, now, thanks. :)

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