What’s so wrong with the “F” Word?

No, I don’t mean the four-letter “f” word. But while we are on the subject, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the word “fuck” either. It’s short, and it has a nice sharp sound to it enunciating that you really mean that thing you are saying. It draws instant attention. And there’s something nicely taboo about it.

As a lady, I’m not expected to say, “fuck.” If my mother ever figures out what a blog is, that I have one, and gets to reading it, I can guarantee that she will make the 1,200 mile trek that separates us to wash my mouth out. It’s just “un-ladylike,” and no one will marry a girl with a foul mouth.

What the fuck does that even mean? I suppose you could make the argument that no one should say fuck, man or woman, because it’s just a vulgar word in your opinion. I’ll buy that. But to say there is a certain vocabulary women are disallowed from using is a whole different ballgame, and the very ballgame I intend to play.

The aforementioned “f” word is “feminism,” a word as taboo as “fuck.” There’s something inherently terrible about the word that makes my generation of iPod listening hipsters roll their eyes instantly and pray for a swift change of the subject. Like punk, many believe feminism is dead. Things are better than they used to be right? Quit whining, what more could women possibly want? Things are equal. After all, women can wear pants now.

So then, if things are just fine now, we can assert that we no longer need feminism. But before we have the funeral, what exactly is/was feminism?

In one of my first classes in graduate school, my professor asked us that very question. This wasn’t an undergraduate class of squeaky faced 18-year-olds carrying their Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift posters. GRAD students were labeling feminism a band of angry, bra-burning, man-hating lesbians who wanted their XY chromosomed counterparts eliminated from the planet altogether.

If students in the top 10% of the education system believe that feminists are simply angry homosexuals, what in Flying Spaghetti Monster’s name does the rest of the country think a feminist is? Perhaps many still conjure a “Feminazi,” a term coined by friend to egalitarians everywhere, Rush Limbaugh. Hopefully you caught my sarcasm. Rush, no friend to equality, started calling feminists “Feminazis” in the early 1990’s, accusing women who want to be equal to men just a terrible as Nazis. Nazis. Equating people who seek equality to people who are responsible for the genocide of millions.

Yeah, that sounds about right. <- Inserting another dose of sarcasm.

Perhaps from these small examples you can begin agree with me that feminism has taken a lot of crap in the last 20 years. Sure, in the 60’s and 70’s there was great progress in what most scholars agree to be the 2nd wave of feminism. But when the 1980’s showed up, there was a giant backlash against feminism. Feminism was blamed for the problems of the day, responsible for the supposed death of chivalry, the arguable increasing instance fornication, and the normalcy of women wearing stupid pants. What a bunch of ball-busters.

In my humble opinion, we are still in the backlash. Some scholars say that we are in the 3rd wave of feminism, in that feminism is lesser holding giant protest rallies and more so a covert effort behind curtains, quietly still pushing onward in the pursuit of a greater equality. But I’m not very convinced.

The big reason I think we are still in the backlash is because, again, the word “feminism” is a word as taboo as “fuck.” If we can’t even SAY the name of the movement, is there really a movement at all? The fact that I’m even writing this may suggest that feminism is alive and well, but I’m honestly nervous about posting this piece because I know that I am eliminating an audience by coming out feminist.

But I have to. I have to keep the conversation going. I have way too many hilarious stories about the ridiculousness of my being female in the workplace, bar, grocery store, and street. I have to share these stories with you, but before I do I want to lay the premise that I’m a feminist, because well, you’ll get my humor more easily.

I’m a feminist. I think I, being woman, should be equal to men. Boom.

I shouldn’t be called, “sweetheart,” by my subordinates. But because I’m female, it happens. I have an older colleague who doesn’t hesitate to call me, “beautiful Joni,” each and every time he addresses me.

So, I playfully call him, “beautiful Eric,” every time he calls me that, over and over pointing out the irony of such a statement. We always laugh, and that is that. I accept it when men hold the door for me, I think it’s awfully polite. I am not offended. However, in the name of feminism and equality, I hold the door for them too. While this almost always confuses them, they accept it, laugh, and we all successfully make it to the other side of the door.

See, I think feminism is more playful than many people believe it to be. Given that we are still stuck in many of the confines of gendered behaviors, playing with those lines always gives way to a laugh. What I’m saying is, we can be feminists in our own covert ways, and enjoy our small victories when we successfully cause someone to consider the WHY of the way things are.

But as covert as we can be, I want the conversation to continue as well. If 3rd wave feminism is our own feminism done in our backyards, blogs and neighborhoods, I think it deserves a name. Many feminists have the discussion, “well maybe we should change the name of the movement, since ‘feminism’ has become such a bad word.”

Ah hell no. That’s our word. That’s your word if you want it. And feminism is for everyone, men and women. As a matter of fact some of my favorite feminists are men, who remind me not to back down and fight even harder than I do currently to perpetuate equality.

At the end of the day, feminism is simply a movement for equality. It was born when women wanted to vote in the 1800’s, so yes it bears the gender specific root fem- in the name. But feminism is for equality in every regard of humanity. Feminists believe in equality of sex, gender, race, and class.

People, I’m a fucking feminist. And while you may find those words offensive, I hope that you at least know that what they mean. Fuck is just kind of a silly word in my opinion, used for punctuation of a point. Well sure it also means doing the ditty, but that’s beside the point.

Feminists are equality proponents. And I wonder – if you thought about it hard enough – perhaps, maybe, possibly, you could be a feminist too and not even know it?


About jonierdmann
Ask thoughtful questions. Challenge tradition. Refuse to accept things are the way they are.

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