When Did Feminist Become the New “F Word”?

marissamayerThis week Marissa Mayer has been getting beat up in the media. I even chimed in along with other bloggers across the internet in a piece I wrote on The Broad Side called Reactions to Yahoo!’s No Telecommuting in the Work Place Policy.

But my post today has nothing to do with Yahoo! or telecommuting. It has nothing to do with the popular news this week. But it has everything to do with Marissa Mayer’s views on Feminism and the documentary film I watched on Tuesday night.

I sat down and watched MAKERS: Women Who Make America. It was moving to see all the hurdles women in America have made over the past fifty years alone. Paving the way for Fortune 500 CEO’s (and mothers) like Mayer to hold such a prestigious title. If we look back into the 1980′s, not only would Mayer be the wrong sex to hold her position, but she would also have been far too young.

The film documented the rise of women in corporate settings marking the biggest ride in the 1990′s. But today, this is something most women (including myself!) have taken for-granted because this is what we have been born and raised with. We did not witness the marches in Washington DC for the Equal Rights Amendment. We never had to worry about abortion being illegal, or not having the option of the birth control pill. (Even though in some parts of the country the access is limited)

We didn’t have to shake the ground for simple rights to go to the college we wanted, or beg for a nickle more an hour just to make minimum wage. We have never lived in a time that sexual harassment in the work force didn’t have a name. Or when domestic violence was simply called life.

We don’t put much thought into these simple things because we never had to participate in the up hill battle. Which has made us become too comfortable. Comfortable though?  What kind of comfort?

My generation which just so happens to be the same generation of Ms. Mayer (37) has grown to think the word feminist is a bad thing. When talking to women in my 26-34 age group, most don’t identify themselves as a feminist even if they believe heavily in feminist ideals.

During the last hour of the documentary, Mayer was interviewed, and when discussing feminism, she said she thinks feminists have a chip on their shoulder.

“I don’t think I would consider myself a feminist. I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable , if not moreso in a lot of different dimensions. But I don’t have the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that comes with that.”

That as in, feminism. And this is the exact kind of step backwards the strong women of today are making. Letty Cottin Pogrebin is quoted as saying:

“I don’t see that urge towards activism, the passion. And that is what makes me fear that they will have to lose almost everything before they realize they have to fight back.”

In fact, many younger women do not actively identify themselves as a feminist, and are moving in a direction to disassociate themselves with the term.

And this is the biggest problem we are facing today. We need the push back, because we are watching everything our mothers worked for disappear in front of our eyes, and we are doing nothing. Sitting online behind our computer blogging about it isn’t going to change the world. We need to get out in our community and do something. Run for office! Volunteer in grassroots movements for our rights. Because if we don’t, who will our daughters thank?

We have our mothers to thank for paving the way for us. But if we aren’t doing the same for our own daughters… where are they going to end up? Seriously.

Marissa Mayer should be proud to stand up and say, “Yes! I am a Feminist! I am proud!” But instead we have vilified the word feminism so much that powerful women in America are afraid to identify themselves as such.

The icing on my feminist cake was today when I blogged on The Broad Side about being a Feminist mother, and allowing my daughter to love Disney Princesses. Within moments of the post being live I had a comment…

“Fuck #Feminists, how about #Humanists…. that seriously drives me nuts… Just because someone has a vagina doesn’t make them “all entitled”. Having a heartbeat does.”

Being a Feminist doesn’t mean I hate men. It doesn’t mean that I do not care about all human beings either. Nor do I find myself entitled because I have a vagina. This is the kind of mentality that is continuing to set women back.

In a reply, Jonniker said:

Yes. This is what’s getting me lately. There’s a lot of push from women to stop making it about women, but making it about people.

Uh, well, the thing is, we aren’t equal and the disparity is pretty subtle and pervasive, so we still need feminism, even if it’s not as obvious as it was twenty years ago.

Oh Amen!

And when women today realize we are taking a step backwards, and we actually start to lose the rights, maybe then the word Feminism won’t be such a fucking dirty word.

In the mean time, take a moment to check out this clip from MAKERS: Women Who Make America because I really believe all women should take the time to sit down and watch the entire documentary. Maybe then we will get our shit together and start marching in the streets again.

Originally posted on DanielleElwood.com

Photo Credit: NPR

  • http://www.amyabbottwrites.com Bernadine Spitzsnogel

    I am in my mid-fifties and I AM A FEMINIST. I honor the women who came before me who made my work life easier because they were FEMINISTS. Nothing wrong with the word. My husband and son also proudly call themselves feminists!!!

  • http://www.smockofsmock.com Jessica Smock

    I got the same reaction to my piece about having a real conversation about parenting… Almost immediately commenters said, “I’ve had it with feminism! I like men… I’m not a feminist.” And got angry that I was trying to connecting a broader women’s movement to individual parenting choices.

  • http://socalmom.net Donna

    I did live through those times and even then, we recognized that feminism=humanism. There was a good reason why NOW was named the National Organization *for* Women, not *of* Women — because the founders lobbying for female advancement did not want to exclude like-minded males. True equality is for everyone.

    Now – I need to find me the three hours to watch the documentary on my DVR.

  • http://www.sharedparentingworks.org teri

    My guess is most of the people posting negative comments have been hurt by feminism. I used to have a positive view of feminism, until that fateful day when I saw the truth with my own eyes. Three years earlier I had joined the fathers movement online, where I read many negative comments about feminism. I debated them, saying it stood for equality. Then it happened. I testified in Sacramento, CA for AB1307, the shared parenting bill. After I sat down I watched a woman from NOW and another from the domestic violence industry use misinformation (lie) under oath about fathers and DV. Feminist activists had also arranged a write-in campaign, and letters were sent in from across the country AGAINST EQUAL parenting. And I saw the exact same thing happen in state after state after state. They killed every bill except one. They wrote op-eds with misinformation. They lobbied with it. The sweet sounding “mothers movement” from that time was not about supporting parenthood, it was about destroying fathers rights so women had more control. Everyday I hear from noncustodial parents who are wrongly being kept from their children, both moms and dads, who all want equal parenting legislation. Most people believe in equality. Feminism is not about equality. The day I learned that I stopped being a fan.

    • http://www.danielleelwood.com/ Danielle Elwood

      @Teri- One group of women doesn’t speak for everyone who considers themselves to be a feminist. That is the biggest problem.

  • http://www.sharedparentingworks.org teri

    Many women who claim to be feminists support equality. But you need to look at the feminists who are affecting law. They do not support equality. We have all been duped.

    • http://www.danielleelwood.com/ Danielle Elwood

      @Teri – I think any vocal feminist that is doing their part, paying attention and standing up is impacting the law in one way or another. I know someone like myself, I take the time to write my congressmen and women, and do my part. I am not an extremist, and I am not a terrorist like you were talking about before.
      The problem here is people taking the radical actions of a few, and blaming an entire movement. There is nothing different between this, and who you are discussing and radical Muslims who are committing true acts of terrorism.

Maggie Gyllenhaal too old, sexism, ageism
Maggie Gyllenhaal is “Too Old?” I Guess That Means Our 50s Aren’t the New 30s
Duggar Family, Josh Duggar abuse, Duggar daughters
Why Aren’t the Duggars Talking About Their Daughters?
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Charlize Theron, Mad Max, Hollywood and women's age
Psst! You Can’t Handle the Truth About Women!
Betty Draper is Finally Likable. There’s Just One Problem With That.
Maggie Gyllenhaal too old, sexism, ageism
Maggie Gyllenhaal is “Too Old?” I Guess That Means Our 50s Aren’t the New 30s
Duggar Family, Josh Duggar abuse, Duggar daughters
Why Aren’t the Duggars Talking About Their Daughters?
Josh Duggar, Sexual molestation, 19 Kids and Counting
Josh Duggar, Mike Huckabee & the Complicated Relationship the South Has with Sin & Denial
women's reproductive health, birth control
When Good Men Need Convincing on Women’s Repro Health
Yearbook Quotes of the 2016 Presidential Candidates
Hillary Clinton tears, Hillary Clinton 2016, The Hunting of The President, Bill Clinton,
The Secret Weapon for a Hillary 2016 Victory? Channeling Her Inner Queen Elsa
Dad-bod, #dadbod, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, shirtless Martin O'Malley, politics
Watch Out, Hillary. Here Comes Shirtless Martin O’ Malley!
Baltimore and Freddie Gray, police violence, racism, racial tensions in Baltimore
The Real Action Baltimore Needs in the Wake of Freddie Gray
Maggie Gyllenhaal too old, sexism, ageism
Maggie Gyllenhaal is “Too Old?” I Guess That Means Our 50s Aren’t the New 30s
women's reproductive health, birth control
When Good Men Need Convincing on Women’s Repro Health
wife bonus, working mothers, mommy wars
Wife Bonuses, Mad Men and The Mommy Wars
Waco biker gang violence, Baltimore, Freddie Gray, police violence, police response
Waco vs. Baltimore: What’s Wrong With This Picture?
yoga, work/life balance
The Pose You Don’t Want Is the One You Need
The author and her father in 1968
Coming to Terms With an Abusive Father
Mother's Day, imperfect mothers, imperfect daughters, mothers and daughters, family relationships
To Mom, Warts and All
Mother's Day, parent with Alzheimer's, dysfunctional families
What She Gave Me: A Mother’s Day Reflection
Amy Schumer’s Brilliant Take on Sexism and “Women of a Certain Age”
The Space Between Love and Fear
sexual women on TV, sexual role models
Powerful Sexual Female Role Models of a “Certain Age”
reinvention culture, Oprah and reinvention, More Magazine and reinvention, women stop reinventing yourselves
Reinvention Culture is Killing Me

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread