The F-word

this is what a feminist looks like

It’s hard to believe now, but just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist.

I believed in equality. I was into “girl power,” in a Spice Girls sense of the phrase. And I was lucky enough to have had tons of great female role models who inspired me growing up.

So why didn’t I see myself in the word “feminist”?

We’re all well aware of the negative connotations associated with feminism. You’d think most people would understand by now how ridiculously off-base the “angry, hairy man-hater” stereotype is. But too often the comments section beneath articles written by or about a woman makes clear there are a lot of sexist trolls who have yet to die off. (Reminder to self: never read the comments if you want your faith in humanity to remain intact.)

Sadly, the trolls who perpetuate these stereotypes about feminists are pervasive. So is ignorance, which I once blissfully possessed when it came to these things. That unfortunate combination is why I shied away from the F-word. I didn’t think I needed feminism. And that makes me shudder to think about.

I’m the oldest of three sisters. They’re much younger than I am but are growing up fast. I remember the kinds of things girls were talking about when I was my sisters’ ages, and it wasn’t always exactly the most female-empowering language. (Why are 12-year-old girls calling each other “sluts” and “bitches” like it’s a compliment?)

There are lots of words used to put women down. I want my little sisters to know “feminist” isn’t one of the dirty ones.

That means it’s on me and everyone else—male or female—who believes in feminism to talk about it. A lot. The more we do that, the more de-stigmatized the word and concept becomes to those who are as skeptical and hesitant as I once was. Luckily, there are more platforms than ever to help us do just that, and there are plenty of people who get into more nuanced discussions than I can (at this relatively early point in my feminist career, anyway).

It’s a wide-ranging topic for sure, but a few examples of some of the things I’d like to talk more about are:

…and so many more.

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? Why or why not?

I’d love to know about your relationship with the word and which women’s issues are close to your heart. Leave a note in the comments—or better yet, write your own post about it and send me a link when you do!