March 8, 2011
Today is the 100th International Women's Day.
Posted by Stephanie at March 8, 2011 12:41 PM
I am a feminist. I can say that unequivocally, because I know the definition. Feminism is defined, in every dictionary you will look in, as something like "the belief in the political, social and economic equality of the sexes." (It is worth noting that the word is equality. Not sameness, since the sexes are not the same, nor superiority, since that's not true either. Nor does it even define the gender of the person who would believe in this equality.) Since we do not yet have any of those things, I'm still a feminist, and I feel like were I to say I was not, I would be saying that I don't believe in equality, which I do. Firmly.
I had a talk recently with a young woman who said several things to me about feminism. She said first, that she absolutely believes in the ideas of feminism, but doesn't want to say she's a feminist, because she thinks the word has negative associations with a minority group of radicals. Second, she said that she thinks things are much better than they were for women, and that maybe we don't need feminism as much, because things are better.
We had a talk.
I asked her if she thought things were, indeed equal. She didn't, and we talked about how even if things were better (which for her, seemed to mean good enough) for women here, that what about the International nature of human rights. Was it good enough for things to be better here, but not elsewhere? Even if things were perfect here, with equality up one side and down the other, don't women in Africa and the Middle East need her feminism?
We talked then about the associations that she thought people made with the word feminist. This young woman said that it was her conviction that the sexes should be equal, that she thought equal pay for equal work was something that she would like to see in her lifetime, and that of course she wanted the right to own property or vote for all women, but that really (and here I'm paraphrasing) she was not willing to publicly state her convictions by labelling herself a feminist (even though she meets the definition) in case people made a bad association with that aforementioned tiny minority of extremists.
We talked about convictions, and principles, and how the power of all of that was in being true to your belief system, whether or not other people liked your beliefs, and then we talked about the Westboro Baptists (although really, you can insert the extremist-nut-jobs of your choice.) Is there anyone that you know, I asked her, who is walking around saying that they absolutely believe in the ideas of Christianity and believe those principles to be important and true, but don't want to use the word Christian to describe themselves? People who instead of using the actual word that describes them, are instead saying "Well, yes. I believe in Christ and all everything that Christianity is defined as, but I'd rather be called something else because of those Westboro Baptists."
No. Instead- they, we, all of us - define the extremist-nut-jobs as the ones who aren't entitled to the word, and don't allow them to corrupt it's meaning. A few extreme Christians don't make Christianity extreme. A few bad Muslims don't make Islam bad, a few bad men don't make all men bad, a few shifty plumbers don't make all plumbers corrupt, and by extension, the beliefs of some women don't get to define my principles or the word and what it means. They can have their beliefs, but they can't change the dictionary - at least not without a qualifier, like "extreme" or "radical" in front of it.
Feminism means you believe in equality. I am a feminist. I like the word, because I know what it means.
Today's pictures are my mum, my sister, my daughters. They are my favourite feminists, and the best reason I know for the word.
For my daughter and yours. Hear hear!
And they are all beautiful!
Amen. I am one of four daughters. My daughter is one of six grand daughters. They are the reason. We are the reason together.
What a wonderfully insightful commentary. Thank you. I am proud to be a feminist. Yes, things are better. No, they are not equal. Yet.
Well spoken. I like the way you think.
Wonderful commentary. You pretty much said it all. I am a feminist.
As a senior in high school I was recommended by my school for a science scholarship. When I went for the interview with a local lawyer in charge of the scholarship he bluntly told me that they didn't give these scholarships to females because after college all they did was get married. But I should be flattered that I was nominated. Back in 1963 I was flattered. My daughters were horrified by that story when they were students. Yes, things have changed but not enough. I lived through the 60's and made sure my daughters knew they were equal and could be anything they set their minds to doing. Yes, I am a feminist. It just took a few years.
Perfectly put. I'll be borrowing some of that talk, FYI. :)
Thank you! As a young adult I often struggle with some of the same things the young woman you speak about does. In a lot of ways the extreme has captured the word a little, but it's up to us, those who are feminists, to bring it back to its real meaning and make sure it isn't associated with the extreme.
Well said, as usual. As a stay at home mom, I am sometimes mistaken as 'not' a feminist; WRONG!!
This is why this blog is one that I read above all others. You speak the truth, and it isn't complicated.
When I was in elementary school they said no to women. When my daughter was in 4th grade her teacher told us that she might have a tough row to hoe. She said she wanted to be a scientist. Now, she is a scientist. And a director in her orgaization. We have come a long way...but we're not there yet. Thanks Stephanie. I think the younger generation takes for grantite the things we worked so hard for...which is good...and bad.
Perfectly stated, which I thoroughly appreciated after I stopped laughing at "we had a talk" - that kinda made me snort out loud. Thank you for the post today, I'll be forwarding it to many!
I'm a feminist because while things are better for women here, there are people who want to make it not better. My vigilance helps keep that from happening and helps things to become better elsewhere.
It doesn't have to be extreme, but it might require being forthright.
Love the points you made, paralleling feminism and the extreme minority in it to Islam, plumbers, men, and the like. I hope to see a broader worldwide application of equality between the sexes in my lifetime. Beautiful post!
Your daughters are lovely. Thank you for writing this post. My hope is that by the time your girls are the age you are now that the gap between what women have here and what women have in other countries around the globe has all but disappeared.
Well said!!!! I am a feminist and very proud to say so. Things are better, but not equal even here in the USA, where people shudder to think of a woman for president and pay is not equal. We have a long way to go before we think everyone is equal here and in other countries where it is much, much worse. Thanks for a fantastic blog today.
Brava! But just one observation: not one with curly hair? What's with that?
Amen Sister! We all need to use our voices.
I am a feminist, like my mother before me, for exactly these reasons.
There are so many of us who do not have the courage of their convictions. I'll share this as well.
Hear, hear! Well said, and thank you! Here in the States it's as important as it ever was to stand up for women's rights; they're under attack again on the Federal level and around the country. On this day, everyone - man or woman, boy or girl, should remember they wouldn't be here without the help and sacrifice of at least one woman.
Thank you Stephanie for a beautifully reasoned discourse. I, my daughter, my husband and my son-in-law are proud to say 'I am a feminist' - and when my granddaughter is old enough she will be able to understand what it means and affirm it too. When everyone else is able to declare the same, regardless of gender or culture, THEN the job will be done and perhaps the word will be redundant. But only then.
Well now I know for sure what I am. Thank you for the clarity. I guess I always thought feminist's disliked men, I never took time to look up the proper definition. Not all men were created equal, I have been lucky in my life to have had really great male role models. A late husband, father and three brothers and now a new partner.
I'm also wondering about the curly hair. Are you the only one? Is there a curly aunt or uncle hiding in the background?
I am a firm believer in equality for all people!!!!that said, why don't you, your mom, and sister have equally curly hair? Oh, ya its "equal" not the "same" Thanks Steph
You have a beautiful family. :)
My father, and my family, are feminists. My father has stayed home and taken care of me for 12 years(not to mentioned I'm home-schooled). My Mom is the budget manager for a state department, and she alone makes the paycheck. I totally agree with all your statements.
Hello! My name is James and I'm a feminist. In some ways I think it's easier for a man to say that than for a woman (just like how it's easier for men to do lots of things, amirite?!), precisely because of the stigma you mentioned.
Funny story: A colleague mentioned International Women's Day recently and another colleague asked something along the lines of "What about a Men's Day?" I looked him straight in the eye and told him that *every day* is Man's Day! At least, until women earn equal pay for equal work. He was surprised because he had assumed that pay parity had been achieved. I think a lot of people are under the assumption that feminism's work is done.
As usual, well written and with super photos of your other women.
Bravo!!! I have been a feminist since 1972!
Go you! And thank you.
I'm really lucky to be married to a man who identifies as feminist. Makes raising my daughter with him a lot easier.
Had a conversation with my husband about this a couple of weeks ago. He adamantly denies being a feminist, although he believes in gender equality. When we got down to it, it's affirmative action that he has a problem with but I still don't think he'd admit to being a feminist (as if it's a bad thing). He's a work in progress. I'll get through to him yet!
I am a feminist. And I come from a line of feminists. And I gave birth to boys, and was disappointed for about...oh...three seconds.
Then I realized that the *best* thing I could do is raise my boys to be feminists, too, in the true sense of the word. I could not be luckier than to have this chance.
I loved your analogy. What a wonderful essay. You do us knitters proud.
I'm sharing this widely because it deserves to be read. Thank you, Stephanie!
Well said! So many people "don't believe" in feminism because they think it means women are better or entitled to more than men.
See Dame Judi Denc and Daniel Craig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkp4t5NYzVM
The two-minute short, specially commissioned for International Women's Day, sees 007 star Daniel Craig undergo a dramatic makeover as he puts himself, quite literally, in a woman's shoes.
If you were a carpenter, you would get the Nobel Prize for Carpentry, because you always hit the nail on the head.
When I went to college in engineering in 1972, I was one of 33 women in a class of 650 or so. It is some different now, but probably still not up to equal.
In 1983, I won the prize for Women and the Law at Queen's Law School. I practised for 5 years, then became a stay-at-home mum for the next 20 while my husband made a career as an international civil servant. I'm still a feminist in every sense of the word and I disagree with everything Margaret Wente said in today's Globe. Check it out and see what you think. Wonderful photos of all the women in your family; I would have liked one of yourself.
Great stuff - thanks for inspiring me today. In sisterhood and proud to be a feminist
Excellent post! But did you convince your young interlocutor?
Thank-you for this, from the bottom of my heart. I got an education, and a good hard kick in the butt. I AM a feminist as well as a Christian (I think Biblically they go hand in glove), and should be as willing to proclaim the one as the other.
I DO think the term itself is the image problem, implying that females are the focus instead of, like you said, ALL humanity as being equal. Too bad someone didn't coin it "humanist," as to me that is far more accurate. Tomorrow I am going to hear a Holocaust survivor speak for the second time, and am reading his book as well (From a Name to a Number). The world needs political, social and economic equality for ALL people, and we aren't there yet - not by a long shot!
Thanks for this beautiful post. May I add that women in Asia too could use equality too? In some Asian countries, sex selection of babies is practised (females are aborted or given up for adoption), girls do not receive nutrition or education on par with boys and women do not have equal employment opportunities.
Bravo! I am a feminist, too. Stand proud!
Standing and applauding with a grateful bow to you for, once again, advancing all of humanity.
Thank you, and amen. (Lovely shots of the generations, BTW)
Hear Hear! From another feminist mother of three feminist daughters!
Thank you! Well said, as always.
I gotta tell you, after admiring how beautiful the women in your family are (and that includes you, girl!), I laughed a little. Don't hate me, but I noticed how all of them have straight hair. :)
Amen and amen... Thank you for speaking truth... I am especially passionate about the difference between equal and same. I am glad for the things that make me, as a woman, different. And I am convinced that, for all those marvelous and creative and striking differences, women and men are equal in worth and beauty and ability to make this world a better place.
I am proud to be a feminist and even prouder to be in the world with you. Your family is absolutely beautiful.May we all have equality soon.
Thank you for this, Stephanie. I have never been one to call myself a feminist due to the extremist connotations although I do believe in equality for everyone. Thank you for framing it in this light. Very helpful and succinct!
Beautiful, Steph! Love all your feminists. =)
hear, hear! i agree completely. i am always telling people why i call myself a feminist, and being outspoken about the way i don't care that some people would think i was a radical for identifying as such. my mother raised me to believe in feminism, and to work for feminism in daily life. you seem to be doing the same.
thank you for sharing this!
You can be a feminist without burning your bra. Like a pebble in a pool, your way of standing up for yourself will spread out in circles to touch more and more. We've come a long ways but yes, women everywhere need continued support for equal rights and equal pay. I was turned down for jobs & schooling for being female and learned to say that it is not a birth defect to whoever the moron was on the other side of the desk. Rippling to this day, feminist!
Thank you for this post. I've been having this very argument with my daughter. I'm sending her the link to this post -- you explain it so well.
Bravo Steph! Definitely well said.
Wonderful! Here's to feminists everywhere!!! (And the nut-jobs can get lost!)
Today the (female) Danish Minister of Education resigned because she feels like being that involved in politics is taking her away from her family. She was replaced by a man who would never put his family's everyday life before power..
On the 8th of march 2011..... There is still so much to fight for!
Well said, Stephanie, marvellous post! I've been a feminist as far back as I can remember (1 of 5 sisters) and worked for the ordination of women in my church in Wales back in the 90s. We're all equal in the sight of God, it's just a shame that not everyone agress.
Thank you Stephanie for a well written explanation of feminism. I shall forward the link for your blog to friends and family.
And another thank you to ET who posted at 1:20 pm for providing the link to the youtube video for International Women's Day with Dame Judy Dench and Daniel Craig. Reposting:
Bravo, Stephanie! I am also a feminist, and so is my husband. Sadly, my daughters are not. I don't know what I did wrong. Neither one of them knits either. Sigh! I tried, I really did!
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!! With you all the way. And proud to be a feminist too.
Keep the flame burning!!
You would be surprised how many college students do not want to label themselves as feminist. We need more "talks" like yours.
When I was in the 7th grade - that would have been 1975 (stop doing the math), my mother entered the work force. She was the 3rd women hired in a factory that was forced to integrate. The abuse she endured was horrible by today's standards - harassment did not even come close to describing it. She had pornographic magazines thrown on the catwalks she was working on and items so vile left in her locker that I won't even list them here.
By 2003 things had progressed to the point where she was only undermined and hazed when training for a highly desired position, which she had all the seniority and experience to hold.
She stuck it out in '75 because she needed to support my sister and I. She stuck it out in '03 because she knew she was equal and had every right to that job.
Go mom! Girl power!
What a great post. Thanks for making me smile while I'm taking care of a sad puppy. I would add though, that "extremist-nutjob feminists" are often labeled as such by anti-feminists. Of course there are nutjobs in all walks of life, but I have recently started reading some radical feminist literature, and it turns out they have much better arguments than they are given credit for in mainstream culture. Which is to say they often have rational, coherent, thought-provoking and nuanced arguments--it's not just hysterical ranting about how terrible men are.
So I guess my point is that we shouldn't reject out of hand a position that at first glance seems obviously extreme. Part of the problem with patriarchy is that it infects even feminist's brains; if you take the time to read the radfem lit, you might be surprised at how much you agree with it. And if you don't have the time, just keep in mind that a lot of the mainstream characterizations of radical feminists are straw-man caricatures.
Well said. You rock, as always.
I am so glad you shared this talk. As is your nature, you succinctly phrased in vivid imagery what true equality and feminism are (is?). Thanks also to other commenters who shared additional thoughts and links (the James Bond one is priceless).
You do what you do very VERY well. Thanks.
I love it. Thank you for your simplicity and truth on International Women's Day. I'll just put in a little plug for some of my favorite feminist books by our own beloved Barbra Walker!
Thank you! Feminist, mother of three daughters and a son, daughter of feminists myself...I was also married to an outspoken feminist, and would be still were it not for his death.
It is so painful to hear young people choose not to identify as such, and often when I meet such a person, we also 'have a talk.'
Bravo, Steph! Feminist, liberal, humanist, we should embrace them all.
I can't say how much it annoys me to hear some conservative or right-wing women rant and say how bad feminism is. If it weren't for the bravery and stubbornness of the early feminists, they wouldn't have jobs or a leg to stand on.
The work is far from complete. It gives me hope to see strong beautiful women like your daughters to carry on.
tell your mum she looks like Dame Judi Dench.
Here, Here! ... and what lovely women - all of them!
Yes I believe that things should be equal; however I'm strongly in the camp that thinks things like affirmative action and other preferential treatment is absurd. We're women - we should have opportunities, but not to sneer at those who don't desire those opportunities
Mariadenmark's statement about the minister of education stepping down is one example about how I would hesitate to step firmly into the feminism camp. Women shouldn't be pitied because they have decided to support their families. Women are more family oriented and though there are exceptions to that rule following the rule isn't shameful
While it may not be perfect here, I think the focus should firmly be on those areas where equality doesn't exist in any form
You rock. Plain and simple.
Well said, and thanks for saying it, Stephanie.
Thanks so much for posting this -- even if my own brand of feminism is more 'radical' than some might be comfortable with, I fundamentally believe that everyone who believes in equal rights and opportunities for men and women is also a feminist.
Like some of the previous posters, I think some of the 'extreme' positions of feminism have been manufactured by opponents of feminism -- and when not manufactured outright, certainly skewed and distorted. For example, apparently no feminists ever burned any bras (though one demonstration did thrown some symbolically into a trashcan: http://www.snopes.com/history/american/burnbra.asp), but nonetheless some people seem to have the idea that they can't be a feminist and wear a bra, or that the fact that they find bras comfortable means they're disqualified as feminists.
As a Conservative (with deviations from the definition) could I respectfully request your (all of you) opinion on defunding Planned Parenthood and why?
I apologize if this causes controversy as that is not my intent. I'm curious about views of the feminists here
I love you. Really. I couldn't agree with you more, and I call myself a feminist as well. I think you are brave and strong and great to stand up and use this word. People will read your blog, and they will reconsider the word. They might think to themselves, "Well, if the Yarn Harlot thinks of herself as a feminist, then maybe I should think twice about it." That is the power of your post today. I applaud you, and thank you. If I had a blog, I would link to you for sure!
Towards the end of reading your blog today, I felt the overwhelming urge to stand and applaud you. And so I did!
I always define myself as a feminist, and when challenged by those who ask why I proudly wear such a "radical" label, I always reply: "Since you --and others-- find it such a radical notion that women are equal to men, we've apparently still got a lot of work to do."
Hurrah! I have been a feminist my entire life and would never not call myself one. And it's been great to see so many women involved in the current revolutions. Three cheers for all of us, and here's to the tide continuing to roll along to equality, for all women, throughout the world.
Well said! I will be using that reasoning at some point in the future!
Despite the great progress, I am concerned. A couple examples: Being asked if I want a girl toy or a boy toy with a happy meal at McDonald's, and toy aisles being labeled "girls" or "boys" at some stores. Are we moving backwards?
Only one question: how come they all have straight hair..... and you don't?
So if that's your Mum and sister, where does your hair come from?
Ahhhh..25 yrs ago my brother called me a feminist...meant to be derogatory, I was sure....I was proud of it then and am more proud of it today, and guess what... guess who also is a feminist today..... thaaaaaaaats right, my brother...one by one and little by little if we have to........
A great way to honor the day.
Beautiful words, beautiful ladies.
Huzzah! My daughters, too, are the reason I am a publicly-avowed feminist. I have had many a discussion like the one you describe with my classes, where most of the young women abjure the word for the reasons your friend does, and most of the young men are surprised to find that they, too, are feminists.
Like your young friend, I've shied away from the word feminist because of the negative associations that the extreme and radical factions have given it. Thanks to this post, I may be ready to reclaim the word as well. And your comparison with the Westboro Baptists is spot on. Thank you.
Here! Here! I have been a feminist, proudly, for over 40 years. There is nothing radical about wanting equality. Amen.
I would also point out that one of the reasons feminism carries a derogatory connotation in some people's minds is that the men (and some women) who were (and are) threatened by the concept have attempted to paint it as something bad or evil. If our daughters believe it, they are letting opponents of equality win. There is a real generation gap on this issue, with most 20-somethings believing they don't need feminism because they already have it all. Time and experience will teach them otherwise. Meanwhile, good for you for teaching them what's what.
Well said, Stephanie! It reminds me of a conversation I had with two guys in my grad school--they asked me, laughingly, if I was a feminist. When I said yes, they asked why. Instead, I asked one of them if he thought his sister, who is a neurologist, should have the right to be a doctor. When he said yes, I said, "Wow, that's really radical!" Then I asked the other one if his fiancee was going to give up her career when they got married. He said of course not. I said, "Wow, it's almost like you think she's a person, and not a thing!" Then I told them, "Guess what, guys--you're feminists, too." It was probably a mean way to do it, but it stuns me that people don't know being a feminist just means you think women should have equal *rights* as men.
It doesn't mean you hate men. It doesn't even mean you dislike men. It doesn't mean you love women, or think they're better than men. It means you care about fairness. That's it. But it's enough!
Anyway, I will always call myself a feminist, because of my dad--he would watch me knit, or crochet, when I was little, and say, "Look at that manual dexterity! Oh, if only you were a boy, what a surgeon you would make!" It has taken me 35 years to get him to say, "Most women have no sense of direction" rather than "Women have no sense of direction."
But don't worry--he has a daughter from a second marriage that will be 18 when he is 80. I'm counting on her to get him further along the spectrum towards feminism. :-)
Way to go Harlot, I needed reminding that I have cause to use this word in my self description! I too am a feminist!
Oh, and what a lovely family you have!!
Thanks for those brilliant words of wisdom (again).
I want to celebrate, but I am not feeling very positive about our place in the world these days. We made such strides at times, but now we seem to be stuck, or even slipping backwards. It terrifies me to read about bills put forth in US states to justify homicide of anyone who performs an abortion, and another in which "women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was 'no human involvement whatsoever in the causation' of their miscarriage." Even if these don't become law, just the fact that they can be put forth and no one calls them crazy and throws them out just boggles my mind! What year is this?!
Anyway. Yes. I am a feminist.
Feminism is a good thing, and I appreciate all of the progress that has been made under that moniker.
However, I'd like to think of myself as a "Personist" in that I'm concerned will equality for all people, regardless of gender.
Watching friends struggle to succeed and being held back by their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or because of a physical disability makes me feel a little petty about calling myself a feminist.
I think it's a sign of progress that women are no longer the most obviously marginalized group in our culture, and it's time for the movement to expand and advocate for the rights of all people everywhere.
I totally agree with Ann, especially about the toys at McDonald's--keeping in mind that both today and when I was a little girl, I usually liked the "boy" toy (Batmobile, Transformers, etc.) better than the "girl" toy (Barbie, Madame Alexander doll). And people in my family have commented about the fact that it's more difficult to buy clothes for girls that's "neutral" (e.g., girls' jeans WITHOUT pink embroidery) than it was when I was growing up in the late '70s and early '80s. It's sad, when you think about it. And part of why we have to keep talking about these things.
AMEN, SISTER!!! And your girls are beautiful!
Well said, Stephanie, well said!! I teach college students and the vast majority of the young women fear/abhor the word "feminist" even though they say they believe in equality in treatment and pay (though there still isn't complete equality in either). Words are the gift; clarity about definition is necessary!
I'm practically in tears. I am so, so grateful to you for writing this, and in your wonderful way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
My name is Maria and I'm a feminist. So is my husband, and when he's old enough, I hope my son will be one, too.
I'm sending this link to my sisters. Your family is beautiful, and so fortunate.
In tears, you expressed every argument I ever made, but without arguing. You expressed every belief I hold dear without negating others' beliefs.
Thank you ... from me and many many other feminist women
From one mother of three girls to another, ABSOLUTELY! Thanks Stephanie for another great post.
Just brilliantly stated. Thank you for that.
Yes! *pumps fist in the air*
This was AWESOME. Thank you. Your conversation reminded me of something I witnessed between two friends in college -- one pretty conservative politically and afraid to use the word 'feminist', the other the Vice President of the northern California chapter of NOW. The former said, "I'm not a feminist! I want to be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen!" to which the latter responded, "Well, who says you can't be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen and also support equal rights and pay for women?" I loved that.
But, sadly, where I live (San Francisco) there are many of us afraid to label ourselves 'Christian' because we're afraid we'll be lumped in with the extremists. My husband, though a Christian, only ever refers to himself as 'Methodist' if anything at all. Thank you for reminding me that I shouldn't be afraid to use that word either.
Beautifully written! Can't wait to share this with my daughters this evening. Thank you!
I like your style there.
I felt the same until I had a child - ha yes it's all so easy for women now, the major battles are over. Hit 30, got pregnant, and whammo! What a fool I was.
My major realisation was that we need to raise sons who are not only decent and aware but are strong enough to stand up for equality and not think less of women who do.
Hear, hear! What a wonderful statement!
Amen. Raising my hand to be counted amongst the legion of feminists. I also raised my daughter and my son to be feminists.
Very well said. If I had a daughter I would have her read this. I do, though, have 4 rockin' sisters who will love this.
Pass it on.
When feminism was 'all the rage' in the 60's & 70's and it became chic to say you believed in all those principles but didn't want to be identified as a feminisit my grandmother (who was of the first U.S. generation of women to vote) said (and now I'm parpahrasing) "Rubbish! If you're potty trained and still always sit to go to the bathroom...you're a feminist."
My older daughter is the one who has been bringing the word back to me, rather than the other way around. Thank you for reinforcing her good message and for raising such beautiful, thoughtful daughters.
(Oh, and those people from Kansas? They don't even call themselves Christians anymore but rather the Army of David. Should be Army of Fred, but never mind.)
As always, you express the thoughts of so many with such eloquence it astounds me.
Bravo Stephanie. Wonderfully put. Lovely pictures too!
As a grateful daughter of a mother and mother of two daughters and aunt to seven nieces and sister to two sisters, I was so moved to read this. Our 'girls' will be running the world in the very near future and that gives me great hope for the level of collaboration we might see. Thank you for this! I am sharing.
Oh, thank you, once again, Stephanie! Your comments at Madrona were wonderful and inspiring and now you've done it again. Several years ago, I had an encounter (embarrassing for the young woman who asked me out to brunch, but not for me) with a colleague and former student who appeared -- after much conversational meandering -- to believe that "feminist" meant "lesbian." Since she is/was one and I am/was not, it made for some interesting misunderstood interactions. I felt so sorry for her, but really, she had bought into her own oppression in such a terrible way! I tried not to increase her embarrassment, but it was downright hilarious, since she was trying to put the moves on me. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This is what happens when people think they can mean whatever they want to with whatever words they want to.
Thank you so much. I loved this. I worry that the gains we have made since the 60's will seem so commonplace to women of today in America, that women will lose ground if we aren't careful. Be always diligent - and do not take it for granted. Keep striving until all women have achieved the equality we are still working to achieve.
Wow... I don't have glorious daughters, I have splendid sons :) I wouldn't trade them but would love to have a daughter or two just for a week, for a mom-and-daughters vacation!
AWESOME POST!! Thanks. I wasn't blessed with girls, but I taught my wonderful boys to be "Feminists". What a beautiful group of women you have in your life!
It's interesting that you post this today, as I also just saw an infographic on the Wall Street Journal entitled "Gender Gap" that illustrated the current differences between men and women in regards to lifestyle, education and employment. We're not there yet.
There is no reason not to stand up for the convictions they hold. I think that it takes courage which is defined as action despite fear of reprisal. I have often spoken up for my convictions even though I knew I would be unpopular. I am fierce when opposed by the less educated and the wackos.I will not be daunted by anyone who doesnt try to understand.
Thank you for writing such a great post about such a great principle, and for showing such great pictures of such great ladies.
As a daughter, a mother, a feminist -- I thank you for reminding all of us how important equality is.
Being a young adult in the 60s, I say, "Hear! Hear!" Thank you for having 'The Talks'; I continue to have 'Talks' too to those men and women of my sons' ages.
Couldn't have put it any better myself.
Thanks for helping to remind us all to keep fighting the good fight.
I have a bit of a story about the importance of feminism. I was a math major in college, and a damn good one. But I never saw myself continuing in that field. At the time, I thought it was because I wasn't smart enough to make a difference. Now I realize that it was because I simply didn't see anyone who looked like me in positions of power/prestige/distinction in the areas of math I was interested in. I had started feeling like a token girl, brought in to show how broad-minded my department was, instead of a proper mathematician. (This was not, in fact, the case. I just felt like it was, since I was so often the only girl in my classes.) When my professors told me to go to graduate school, I assumed that they were telling me to go just to improve the gender ratio, not because I could get a lot out of it and contribute to the field.
When did I finish college? In 2009.
As long as people still define others - and themselves - primarily by their gender, instead of by their skills and personality and likes and dislikes and what have you, there is still work that needs to be done.
About half a year ago, I was fortunate enough to realize what I had been doing to myself, and I started applying to graduate programs in mathematics and computer science. I'll be starting my PhD in the fall.
Well said. My daughter would say she is a feminist as would yours. I'm glad, because I've been talking the talk, and walking the walk for 43 years now, and there is far to go, and I'm tired.
I could not say it better myself. You are truly billiant.
I totally agree with you in the points you make about feminism, but I had to laugh (at myself?) when I read your analogy about being Christian, as I have taken to saying to people who ask, "I don't like to define myself as a Christian, but rather a follower of Christ." I do this for exactly the same reasons you mentioned the girl wanted to not be associated with feminists -- that the word has a bad connotation! You gave me food for thought, although I am not ready to give up the distinction for now. :) Thanks for your posts.
Amen Sister!! Thank you for your words!
You nailed it! Yes, I'm a femnist and always have been. So was my mother although she would have been concerned not with the radicals but that she wanted to be ladylike (in the very best sense of the word). With that assurance, she was a femnist. Oh, how I miss her! Your photos of the beautiful, strong women in your life were wonderful, and only missing one of you!
I saw a wonderful blog today about true feminism and the right to stay home with your children and grow a garden while truly being a femnist. Rock on!
Well said! Thank you! I once used a similar analogy---not all feminists have to agree with one another just as Baptists are Christians and the Pope is a Christian and they do not agree about many things, nor do we expect them to be answerable for or defend the position of the other. So I don't agree with all feminists but I am nonetheless a feminist.
Well said! For all of us all over the world. YES, I AM a feminist!
Thank you, Stephanie. I think I needed this little talking-to. I will no longer hesitate to call myself a feminist.
Thank you so much for this - so well-expressed, and so true. I'm a mother of daughters too, and I'm directing them here to listen to you.
thank you for your gift of clear expression. you said things that needed to be said.
'to each man, his rights, no more.
to each woman, her rights, no less.'
Thank you Steph! You are absolutely right. I've been nervous to call myself a feminist for the same reason and I now see now silly that is. I am a feminist! I was raised by older and very traditional parents. My Dad, although a great guy, is very chauvanistic and ruled with an iron fist over me and my Mom (NOT abusive, just very authoritarian), and my Mom is very meek and has extremely low self-confidence so I became a very miserable teenager with a terrible self-image. But a phenomenal strong female role model and mentor, my voice teacher, came into my life when I was fifteen and turned my life around. I am more grateful for her than words can say! I am 28 now, and still talk to her and see her often. It is still tough some days to maintain my self-confidence where I want it to be, but I am a new mother to a beautiful baby girl and I will be the strongest role model I can be for her! She will grow up a feminist! :)
Thanks for this post, Steph. Beautifully articulated, and one that makes me proud to be a feminist.
Thank you Steph,
Agreed on all points. I feel the same way.
Oh! And may I add to my previous post that I am also amazingly lucky to be married to a strong and feminist husband who fights for the rights of others every day as a labor union organizer!
A great post. I agree with everything you said and I am a feminist.
My name is Mary Kay and I am a feminist.
Thank you for this, Stephanie! My feminist mother raised five proud feminist daughters, and I am sending this to all of them! and to my fiance, who has his mother's last name. (and putting it on Facebook for my friends - I am sick of hearing "I don't like to call myself a feminist" from women I know believe in equality).
Thank you! Yes! And yes again!
My feminism stirred in the early 60's when I asked my dad why girls couldn't play Little League. He laughed. We've come a long way but the journey continues. Thanks Steph for the post.
I'm not a feminist, or at least not as others here espouse. It's not that I disagree with anything that's written in the blog, but I believe in equality for all, be they male, female, black, brown, white, straight, gay or any and all combinations of the above. I commend you on your efforts but maybe you want to expand the topic of your talks?
Bravo! Thanks for this. xxx
I AM A FEMINIST! (Why, yes--I *am* yelling.)
I am a feminist, as is my mother, and although probably not until he had daughters, so is Dad. But, I have a streak of justice in me that despises and is offended by even petty injustices. For that reason, I use the term feminist sparingly. I believe everyone deserves justice, not just women. And I am a Christian, but in certain company or discussions (see Westboro Baptist Nutjobs) I prefer to refer to myself as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a better descriptor of how I try to live my life, than the impression many people have of the Christians they see in the news. It gives them a chance to look at me on my own merits and failings, rather than through the looking glass provided by the media. For me, in both cases, I'd prefer to be evaluated based on who I am, not who they think I am.
Very well said. In 1969 when my younger sister had an admissions interview for veterinary school, the interviewer told her that they didn't like to waste the education on women, because they would just get married and stop practicing medicine. She was/is nothing if not outspoken, and she let him know what she thought of his attitude.
She was admitted as one of 6 women in a class of 60, graduated with her DVM at the top of her class, and is still practicing--she owns her own practice. Now, I believe, U.S. veterinary schools are graduating at least 50% women.
I agree with you that we have come far but not far enough, and that our sisters all over the world need our feminist advocacy.
One definition I heard of feminism that I really like is:
Feminism allows women to have choices.
In other words you can be a stay-home-mum or have a career or both if you so wish. But the important thing is it is your choice.
So well put! I've been asked to speak to a women's group in India when my ship pulls in there for a few days since we're there during Women's History Month and I'm a female ship Captain. I hope you don't mind, but I think I'll be using some of your words and thoughts when I speak.
Very well said. Thank you!
You go girl! Interesting mini-fact for the day- World wide women do two third's of all work. World wide they receive ten, no, let's make that TEN percent of the financial remuneration. And there's lot's more where that come from!
Did your daughters always look that much alike? And yet different? And gorgeous? Probably. I am slow sometimes. Still a feminist, though.
I am puzzled by one thing, however: you seem to imply that if equality existed between the sexes, there would be no feminists, or no need for feminism. I don't think that's true. The US Constitution mandates freedom of speech, for instance, and we have it (mainly) (most of the time), and we just had a Supreme Court decision upholding it, even when the speech and the speakers are utterly vile. I feel pretty confident that free speech is not under attack, but I still keep an eye peeled. Eternal vigilance, and all that.
To add my voice to the chorus of "Thank yous" for your eloquence...I am more proud to sometimes disagree with you than I am to agree with many out there who share my views. I'm 27 and a female doctor, who graduated with a class that was over 50% female. It's easy for young women like myself to think we've made it, and to think that to be feminist we have to agree with a whole slew of things that we often don't. But you were right on the mark when saying that a true feminist fundamentally believes in equality...not sameness. I'm a feminist too!
Actually, in the US, women DO make equal pay for equal work- assuming they have the same education, years of experience, work the same number of hours, and enter/exit the work force at the same frequency. But they don't- women are more likely to want balance in their lives, to want more time for their families, and to value flexibility over money. Which I think is a GOOD thing, but it does mean our median income is lower overall- but if you look closely at the numbers, it's not an issue of employers simply paying women less for the same jobs.
Of course I can't speak for Canada or any other country... And there's still the issue of why we're the ones sacrificing work for family.
When I was a little girl, I told my father I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. He knelt to my level and told me that if I wanted to go into medicine, he and mother would support me--but they'd expect me to be a doctor instead.
I'm 77 years old--how many women my age can tell that story? I am blessed.
I am a Feminist, and I'm not afraid to be associated with that word.
Your daughters are beautiful!
Yay for you! I'm a lurker, not even a needle knitter, but I love your blog! I just posted a link on my Facebook page to today's post! Hurray for someone voicing what I feel! I love your style and so appreciate your daughters, sister, and mum as much as my own!
Steph, thanks so much for writing this post. Feminism still seems to be a dirty word, something that women and men are afraid to admit.
Beautifully said. You made me cry today. Thank you for such a lovely and moving post.
Right on, sister! That's a wonderful analogy.
Well said. I was raised by two proud feminists, a mother and a father who always pushed me to be whatever it was I wanted, including a feminist myself. One that's not afraid of the title, either. Because "better" doesn't mean we're done yet.
On a related note, I ran into a PSA on this exact subject the other day. Figure I'll share it, since I suspect you'd enjoy it.
I still don't like the word feminism. Since the concept is about equality, rather than about being a woman, it seems odd to me that the word itself is "feminism" and not something like "gender-equalism".
I'd feel appropriately labeled were I called a gender-equalist. Maybe I should start spreading that word :)
I adore you, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Thanks for what you said today.
(My husband has a great t-shirt that reads "I'll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy." Hits the nail right on the head.)
Well said, Stephanie. Even as the mother of sons, I can proudly say that I am raising them to be "feminist sons." (I think Anna Quindlen coined the phrase). They needed to be aware that women had the same capabilities as them -- especially intellectually, and are in every way their equals.
My boys will also correct friends - and adults - who call their mother (me) by their last name (which isn't mine.) I recently had a contemporary (at a school my son was visiting) who was visibly uncomfortable - and couldn't - call me by a name that was not my husbands. She even went so far - finally - to say, when I corrected her about my name yet again -- "oh, but they are married." And I thought it was 2011, not 1911.
One suggestion -- we are not all Christians, and yet we seek to abide by goodly principles -- can we substitute a term, such as Humanity??? (though I think you may come up with a better term)
Thank you for that! The best quote I heard yesterday for International Women's Day goes something like this "prepare your daughters for the workplace - give them less pocket money than your sons". Sad, but true.
Yes. So beautifully said.
Think this is lovely. So great to hear people say the real f-word :)
Just one thought, can we open up our dialogue, across place across race and accross culture?
Happy international women's day to all.
I'm closing in on 70 and have always been a feminist. I just didn't know the word for it when I was young and appalled at inequality and double standards. I would not say "obey" for our wedding vows in 1962 -- definitely ahead of my time.
I am proud to call myself a feminist and do so often. Ahem, some people consider me a raging feminist. My antennae are ever vigilant!
I have so much to say on these issues that it's difficult to stop.
Megan at 2:18: I am more than distraught about cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. I emailed twice and went to a city meeting with my Colorado Congressman, Cory Gardner, who cosponsored the bill. I talked with him and explained the importance of PP services beyond abortion (a real hot issue with him). He told me he understood. I responded that he obviously did not understand.
Well said! Happy International Women's Day!
You said it Sister, Rock on.
My parents always told me I could be anything I wanted to be.
When enrolling in college, the advisor pointed to my great math grades and asked if I had considered engineering. I told her that I didn't want to be an engineer.
Later while in college and telling my mom about how the ROTC officers wanted me to sign a contract to be in the military, she asked why I didn't want to do that. I told her that I didn't want to be a soldier.
I have worked in the legal field for 20+ years, I'm quite good at it and love my work. Thanks to my parents, I am a strong, independent woman. And my husband loves me for the kind of person I am. I am a feminist and I'll tell anyone.
I love your writing on feminism and women's issues so much! Please keep doing it - I feel like I have so much to learn and ponder! I am a young woman, and it saddens me daily to consider how little status women have, even in a country like the US.
As long as it continues to be important for us to celebrate International Women's Day, we will continue to need feminism.
I've always been of the same mentality as the young woman you spoke with: I have the same ideals as the dictionary-feminist but wouldn't label myself a feminist out of fear of being associated with that outspoken minority that has somehow taken the title for themselves. It's always the loudest group whose voice is heard... perhaps we just need to be louder.
An inspired post.. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!
Speaking as a lover, father, brother, friend and fan of women I must say - well said. I guess that makes me a feminist to.
Back in 1962 when I was born, my mother could only work at Macy's until "she showed" her pregnancy bump. She could not have gotten a loan and would not have advanced in her career because she had children. I had to wear a dress to school until I was 12 before pants were allowed for girls in our public school. Jane never had the same choices as Dick.
Things have gotten better, but they are not quite equal yet.
I am a feminist for my daughter and for my son.
What she said. I'm very proud to be a feminist, and as long as men and women are not global equals, that is still important.
Happy International Women's Day!
In Ukraine, where my boyfriend is from and where he currently resides, it is also National Women's Day. They actually celebrate it. I got a lovely email from him telling me how blessed he was to have me in his life... It was truly special. And even more special that I feel, finally, that I am in a relationship where I truly feel that we are equals. Utterly and completely.
I never have defined myself as a feminist, but I truly believe that women should all have the privileges that I have had; a family that encouraged me to follow my dreams, a good education, a boyfriend that supports me and treats me as an equal.
You so beautifully put this that I felt a warm glow inside and thought, for perhaps the first time in my life, that I, too, am a feminist. As a mom to two boys and the wife of a wonderful man, I have felt for most of my adult life that I can't condone feminism because of its tendency (I suppose this is the extremism) to put men down. And all I want for my boys is to raise them in a world where their masculinity is celebrated and they are not expected to be lazy, stupid, and horny because of their gender. You make me feel like I can be a feminist without abandoning my boys.
You have such a wonderful way with words. Thank you Stephanie.
Thank you for a great post! I hope all of us feminists are as strong and articulate as you :)
Hear, hear! :) I'm another proud feminist.
You always know how to explain things so it makes perfect sense to anyone.Thank you for bringing your three wonderful and beautiful feminist daughters into this world. I only hope I can do the same for my daughter.Thank you for the motivation.
Thank you, Stephanie, on behalf of ALL of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers! If I only knew two things about you, and didn't even know you were a Knitter, I'd be your fan forever: Knitters Without Borders, and Feminist/Great Mom.
Am hoping you will post the name of the book, pattern for the cute garter stitch baby sweater you had on the blog in Jan......I love it.
I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
Rebecca West 1902
Thank you for telling these girls how important these things are. They don't know yet how easily these freedoms we take for granted can be taken away by overbearing people.
I'm an American, and I just want my constitution to say 'all human beings' or all 'men and women' or all 'women and men' 'are equal'. How's Canada on that front? I'm not familiar with your constitution. In this country though, we have women who are willing to lay their lives down for what that document says and they aren't included. It's very discouraging for your young friend who is so concerned about people everywhere (as so many of us are). Glass houses, folks. Glass houses. We must start at home with so many things. Feminism and peace included.
thank you for this. i have had similar talks with many women. both in my generation (i'm in my late 20s) and younger. i am unashamedly a feminist. and i'm glad that others are happy to speak up for the word as well.
Sadly, there are many Christians who won't name themselves as such because Christianity in our society is often defined by the most strident voices. However, if we do not name ourselves Christians (or feminists) we are allowing the fringe to define the movement. That was a great and inspiring talk you gave. I am reminded of a skirt my daughter brought back from Burkina Faso. Her host mother made skirts for all the girls out of fabric that was specially designed for the International Year of the Woman. This was fabric that she had saved for this special purpose. As far as we still have to go (and I agree with those who think we're backsliding a bit), it is so hard to understand the importance of this for women around the world.
I see many of you who want your daughters to read this, but we should have our sons read it as well. Feminists of all sexes! Equality is good for everyone!
I love this so much! I will be using this argument in future.
I agree with everything you said. Plus, who are these questionable feminists that are being regarded as extemists? We can't afford to write-off any feminists who brought us to this point in an effective manner. I'm also not in the habit of writing-off Civil Rights activists or anti-war activists from the 1970s. Kudos to those who came before us and reshaped the landscape!
You are AWESOME for saying these things and expressing the ideas so well. Keep up the GREAT work.
YEA, Stephanie! Well said.
I am a feminist! This comment has nothing to do with the topic for the day; but I must ask - where did you get your hair - daughters and sister blond and straight and mother straight - from whence yours?
Powerful words. The suffragettes worked so hard to ensure that women are able to vote. Let's make sure we and our offspring exercise that right or complacency will cause us to regress. If feminism means equality of all people and I agree it does, it has to apply to the unborn as well as all other minorities who don't have a voice, doesn't it?
THANK YOU for posting this and for putting this into such simple but eloquent words. I am 30mumblemumble years old and have felt very frustrated that so many smart, talented, LIBERATED women of my generation have shunned the notion of themselves as "feminist" despite embodying everything the idea stands for. Thank you for demonstrating that attempting to reclaim this important moniker is not a lost cause.
As usual, your logic and argument, flawlessly presented. I am proud to call myself a feminist.
Hear, hear! My mum is one of the "Don't call me a feminist" feminists, but I know the truth (total feminist). I'll try some of your counterpoints next time we talk about it and see if I can get her to wave the femme flag. Happy Women's Day!
By definition, if you are not a feminist you are a sexist - believing in discrimination based on gender. I wonder how that word sits with your non-feminist friend.
I remember once, when I was about sixteen, a co-worker asked me if I would call myself a feminist. I said yes. she was surprised, for the very reasons you mention: most women in my generation have turned away from the word because of the negative connotations it presents, because of the radicals. I think feminist should mean the things you say. I wonder what the next generation of women will think.
I love you, my dear Harlotta!!! So very well said.
I am a feminist. Of the 'small f' kind. I believe all these things in a "separate but equal" kind of way. My grandfathers were both Methodist pastors before they died. My father, in particular, tried to get alot of spiritual answers out of my grandad (who had PhD's in Theology and Sociology and partially put himself through religious college prizefighting!) and the answers were these: 1.I don't know about the Old Testatment. It's been millenia since they wrote most of it and through many, many language translations. 2.I believe in an afterlife, but I don't KNOW if it's there...that's why they call it faith.Plenty of people have told me they'd give me a sign when they died and nobody has so far. 3. Jesus - if wetry to live our lives as Jesus did, we'll be ok.
The Christian metaphor you draw, Steph is just so spot on! Be a feminist...not a Feminist!!
Please share these facts with your young friend: My grandmother (the wife of said pastor above who helped with tuition as a nurse) was 21 years old when women were granted the right to vote in the United States. My husband's grandmother was 10. They remembered this as the big deal it still is. I and my daughter (and son) would pick my husband's grandma up to take her to the polls to vote (at the church!).
US sufferage - 1920 Canadian sufferage - 1917 Oman 2003 The UAE 2006 Saudia Arabia - THEY STILL CAN'T vote.
The voting alone is but a drop in the bucket of being 'equal'. The grandmas above have passed away and I'm not 50 yet, but the beat needs to go on. Mostly quietly, steadily, taken up by your young friend and all our beautiful daughters and sons.
When are we going to have a book called Chicken Soup for the Knitter's Soul? Because I believe you could compile it out of blog entries. We get so much more than socks from this.
You know... I would love. Nay. Adore having a. Nay... a word that means even more than adore... having a beer with you. Laughing with you... . knitting with you... you know... in every non-weird, creepy way just spending time with you and enjoying every minute of it. srlsly. You are AWESOME. Thanks for just being you.
I have never seen someone discuss what feminism is so effectively. This is up there with my all-time favorite posts of yours. It got me thinking about my own feminism (something I, like the young woman you talk about, wasn't willing to call myself until I started working and realized how unequal things still are). Thank you!
Well said, as usual. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. I will be cribbing from you 100% when I talk about this to my 3 yr old daughter (when she's just a bit older). I hope you don't mind.
hear, hear, stephanie!
i am one of two daughters. i raised two sons. i have two granddaughters. they - all four of them - are the reason!
Somehow 'feminist' got lumped with 'radical' and ended up as a perjorative term. We have to reclaim the term, while remembering that it is unfortunately, still a predominantly intellectual movement, and most people aren't intellectuals either. Again more negative preconceptions...
In Australia, women are well represented in the public sector: Head of State, Head of Govt, 3 out of 6 State Premiers are female. But in Business, the fortress of male WASP predominance, hardly a female face to be found.
Re: your conversations, I am reminded of people who open a conversation with "I'm not a racist but..."
AMEN sister!!! I am a Christian Feminist.
We are blessed to have a feminist like you, Stephanie, who speaks the minds and hearts of so many of us so well.
Another Proud Feminist
Today is my birthday, and I couldn't think of having a better day for a birthday. You said well. There is still more work to do. It takes all to do it.
LOVED this post, Stephanie... for all our daughters!
thank you, Stephanie for a wonderful, inspiring post on my 57th birthday - I always loved that I was born on international women's day, the youngest of 5 females born to a couple who always said we could do & be whatever we wanted
Beautiful. All of it. I'm proud to be a feminist. Always have been. Always will be.
One of my favorite feminists is not pictured - maybe it's because she's a harlot!
better, yes. Equal, no. Still only 80 cents on the dollar in the United States. Not to mention Viagra being fully covered by every insurance company and only spotty coverage for birth control. Not to mention almost zero coverage anywhere for infertility treatments. Just sayin'.
Thank you for your cogent commentary. The ability to publically identify oneself as a feminist and to work openly for equality is a privilege, one that should be neither taken lightly nor squandered. It is both maddening and saddening, but not surprising, that the word feminist has been co-opted by the group in power and neutralized by associating it with a derogatory image. I consider it my obligation as a human being interested in equality to reclaim and re-empower this word and I am proud to be in the company of you and so many other wonderful people when I call myself a feminist.
Thank you for this wonderful post. My commitment to feminism was sealed (although I didn't know it at the time) when I was 12. My father was very involved with the Boy Scouts, and received an award for his service. At that award dinner, he was commended for his work "especially since his Boy Scouts turned out to be girls". My face burned - I still remember it vividly.
On the International Women's Day site, they list the "IWD themes around the world". This is the listing for Canada:
Canada, Status of Women (Federal Gov): Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality
You are one of the important, strong women in my life. Thank you for that.
Wonderful post! And you have beautiful daughters (and a beautiful mum and sister too!)
Right on, sister. (My how I've dated myself with that phrase, however the sentiment continues to ring true).
Yes! I am a feminist, and a Christian, and I believe in a consistent ethic of life. All of the above.
Oh yeah, and I love to knit. :)
Yes, to everything you said. Except, I will say that I know Christians who hesitate to identify themselves as such (myself included at one time) and literally hide the fact that they attend Church regularly. Why? Because, of the loud, demanding, judgmental and often hypocritical 'Christians' who have managed to hijack our voice and pretend to speak for us. I think, thankfully, there's a movement in the US for mass of loving Christians who are more concerned with our own actions than yours to take back our voice... Anything can be hijacked by a vocal minority if no one stands up and takes it back. Thanks for taking feminism back.
The Westboro analogy was perfect, and I plan to steal it shamelessly. Thank you for articulating such a difficult concept so clearly.
PS. You make pretty babies.
Thanks Stephanie, another wonderful post. Whenever I am asked if I am a feminist (generally in in a derogatory tone) my usual response is to ask the question back to the person asking.
If they respond no, then I ask if not, why not??? citing the definition as you describe it.
We ALL need to take back the word and be out and proud feminists!!
Discrimination is alive and well and lurking among us. My partner went for a preliminary interview for a 6 figure salary job only 2 weeks ago here in Sydney, Australia where she was asked by the 50ish male interviewer if she would consider wearing something different to the actual interview. She was wearing a corporate suit with pants. He meant a dress or a skirt.
Still here. Still the need to educate and fight.
Right on Sisters!!
amen sister! from a feminist mom of sons...
Beautifully stated. While we're on the subject of beautiful, the women in your family are really something! As to the feminist label, I wear it proudly, and hope to impart those values to my son and daughter. I try to do so every day by example.
Beautifully said, beautiful feminists!
Thank you for this. Every woman who is unafraid to say she is a feminist does great good!
Proud Kansan and Feminist. There is a tiny island of sanity in Kansas in which I reside. WBC is not..., well, so many things
Thank you for this post. There are definitely many Christians, myself included, that avoid the term Christian because of the nut-jobs and even because of the general stereotypes of Christians out in the secular world. Many Christians do that not only because of the extremists, but also because the term "Christian" has become so watered down. For example, many of my friends and I who are strong in our faith will not put "Christian" on our Facebook page, but rather follower of Christ, or something along those lines.
But yes, I agree with the following paragraph that says the extremists don't make the whole group bad.
I also think that with your definition of feminism, a lot more people could fit in the feminist category, including myself! I would have never considered myself a feminist before today because I thought of the extremists, but if feminism is truly defined as : "the belief in the political, social and economic equality of the sexes." ... "Not sameness, since the sexes are not the same, nor superiority, since that's not true either" and "equal pay for equal work" ... then I am a feminist too!!
Thanks, Stephanie, for reminding me why I'm a feminist.
Don't know if you've ever seen this, but it's one of the best essays on feminism I've ever come across:
Yes indeed. You said it...good job and thanks.
Steph, that last photo is just about The. Best. Thing. Ever.
Congratulations for raising three great feminists, and for reminding us about how important it is to stand up for the women we love, and the women we don't even know.
These are really my favorite posts. Inspirational, thought provoking, eloquent...
And you knit, too. Well, of course.
Thought of you last night Steph when I attended an evening with the glorious Gloria Steinem here in Folsom as I was pretty sure you'd write today about feminism and World Women's Day. She got a standing ovation when she walked in. Very serene and relaxed demeanor but she delivered quite a serious message regarding social justice and equal pay. She also talked about how the level of violence in homes is reflected in the level of violence in society. Quite a wonderful night and I was happy to see many young ladies in the audience. Wished you were there to join us.
Yet another thank you for this articulate post about what so many of us who identify as feminists believe. This is such an important concept to impart to our daughters and sons!
I was the top student in my high school class: straight A's, hardest courseload academically, high college exam scores. My school counselor approached me in mid-January of senior year and said, "I figured out why you applied to Northwestern. There's a naval base there." I had applied to Stanford, Northwestern and UC Berkeley because they had the top biology programs (I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau when I was 17). It took me awhile to figure out that he thought the only reason a "girl" went to college was to find a husband.
I am proud to be a feminist, to be married to a feminist (he's a guy, by the way), and to have raised three feminists, only one who is female.
Stephanie, you said it better than I could have.
Thank you for that insightful essay. I have always been proud to call myself a feminist Tnd don't know how it became such a negative word. thank you for teaching this younger generation that it is title to be proud of, to celebrate the history of the struggles and the ongoing need to continue to fight for the women of the world who have nowhere near our hard won advantages.
Thank you for your beautiful words. I will have my daughter and mother read this....beautiful feminists even though neither of them would use the word "feminist". Maybe now they will! Blessings to you!
Hear Hear! Good thinking, good talking, great thoughtfulness! Wonderful clarification. Most importantly - you are good example of how to raise your daughters. Thank you for doing such a good job on the next generation.
Thanks so much for this eloquent post. It reminded me that I want to order this DVD when it becomes available... http://www.rocoeducational.com/MissRepresentationFilm.php. I missed it when it screened at Sundance. Even sadder is that I missed the panel discussion with Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, Geena Davis...
The original founders of the feminist movement were haters of men, having themselves grown up in dysfunctional families, with non-existent or abusive fathers.( Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer). They promoted the idea that men were completely unnecessary, indeed despicable, that stay-at-home moms were to be denigrated and looked down upon, and that being a wife and mother is something to be ashamed of. They are responsible for the destruction of the family unit as a healthy and cherished institution.
If she were to live in the Congo, I somehow think she would (1) be a feminist; (2) call herself one and (3) carry a gun to prove it.
Just a thought.
As they recently said on the Global Poverty Project site, "Women make up approximately half the world’s population, yet two thirds of those who live in extreme poverty are women. Women perform two thirds of the world’s working hours, yet only earn ten per cent of the world’s income and less than one per cent of the world’s property."
Amen sister! To all the beautiful feminists in your family and mine, hip, hip hooray! Thanks for saying it so well.
About how old kids need to be to start talking about feminism - when my daughter began to learn to talk, I realized that the squirrels, bunnies, and birdies were all "he", and I was doing it too. I made a point of switching to "she", and I was surprised how much more at home I felt outside. A little thing, but it made a difference to my daughter and to me.
So well said, Steph. Thanks for sharing this.
Actually, I walked away from Christianity because of the nut-jobs that label themselves as Christians. And I think it's a perfectly rational position to take.
The ideas of feminism are important, but I can support them just as well without the label of "feminist" as with it.
I have only one question. If you are related to all these women, where did you get your curly hair??
Your words are inspirational. Thank you for sharing.
And, no we are not completely equal in the North American countries. In the US, women still earn 85 cents to a man's dollar.
I am a deacon in my church, something that was hard fought for, but am not allowed to be an elder. Some of our regional groups allow women to be ordained but not ours. They needed someone to accompany the pastor to a regional meeting and said a deacon could do it. I volunteered but was shut down because the orders were sent from the leadership specifically, "No women!"
Nope, we're not equal yet.
Brilliant and the pix are lovely. Yes ma'am. I was born in 1950, have seen a lot of twisted up thinking masquerading as 'advancement' and I'll be a feminist for a long time to come.
Love you - and thank you for this beautiful post. I feel like all the great feminist literature and discussions have disapeared - and this was an invigorating post.
At least in this country - most of our grandmothers were unable to VOTE when they hit 18 - imagine that? What we have is fought for - and the fight needs to continue for ourselves and others.
Beautiful pics too - all gorgeous WOMEN.
I'm another one who posted this on my Facebook page - thank you so much for the reasoned commentary, and for the example you and your family provide. Blessed be
Have to chime in with everyone else and say, yes, thank you. I was a Feminist Studies major in college (I'm 25) and proudly proclaim myself as a feminist whenever I have the opportunity -- after all, what better agenda than committing to recognizing privilege/insubordination in all its forms and dismantling it? The more of us speak up, the better, to make it clear that feminism is still alive, necessary, and changing constantly. I do feel like feminism needs its ambassadors who are able to be intelligent without being condescending, and it warms my heart to hear of your honest, loving but firm conversations with your daughters. High five, and keep on keepin' on.
I spent International Women's Day as a chaperone at a Young Woman;s Conference.
47 grade 9 girls learning that there are more jobs out there for them than hair dresser and secretary. They got to have 1 hour working in computer repair, web site design, building robots, carpentry (they made stools!), welding and auto service.
It was a great day! I'm so thankful that as a parent I was asked to go and chaperone the girls. And the girls I took were great too, really interested in trying out the skills ... not just being gooey eyed over the good looking guys who were around ;)
Thank you so much for a wonderful post. I like you have also come across women who will not define themselves as feminists because of the negative annotations they believe are associated with it.
Wonderful to have someone voice my own thoughts on the subject to perfectly.
I attended a women's college, have a mom and stepmom who went to a women's college, believe everything you have articulated and also identify with the younger woman in your conversation.
I've always been a hesitant "feminist", and I do abhor labels and segmentation. You've given me good food for thought, Stephanie.
Well said, Brava girlfriend!
Yes. Thanks for this post!
Thank you for rejuvenating those of us who may not have given up, but were feeling tired.
Sometimes when I read your blog I really would like to cross the ocean and just hug you!
I could be that girl. Thank you for having a talke with me today.
Damn straight! And as a mother of two boys, I take my job as a feminist very seriously!
Hear, hear!!!!!! You rock Steph. Well said.
What you're addressing here, whether you realize it or not, is the whole issue of letting someone else take over a dialogue. Somehow "feminist" became a bad word? There are other examples of words destroyed by abuse or hijacking. "Gay" used to be a perfectly good word which has been hijacked. The Republicans have decided that having a party that labels itself the "Democratic Party" makes them look bad, so they have chosen to call it the "Democrat Party" - but that just means they can't spell the name of their opposition.
For some reason, the whole thing makes me think of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's line - "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Letting the opposition redefine you or what you call yourself seems to fall in the same category.
Not only am I a feminist, but I'm a femiknits too.
I am a feminist. I am a liberal (another "dirty word" these days). I wear these labels proudly.
You go girl!!! The rejection of the label feminist by young women today infuriates me. Working in pink collar jobs all of my life tells me that equality for women does not yet exist. Political and societal change comes from activism. Nothing will change if women aren't willing to stand up and be counted as feminists.
Beautifully put, thank you.
Wonderfully written, Stephanie! I heard something in conjunction with the Westboro Baptists last week that stuck with me. A gentleman said that one of his teachers had once said "A fanatic is a zealot who redoubles his efforts after losing sight of his goals." You are absolutely correct that the radicals should never be allowed to be the definition.
Well said. I'm a feminist.In the 60s my guidance couselor counseled against going to a certain school because 'you'll never catch a man there'! I still cringe thinking about that comment.
A brilliant post!! I agree wholeheartedly.
When I left school in 1973 it was still legal here in the UK to reject women for jobs just because they were female. To pay women substantially less than men for doing the same jobs. To sack women when they got married. We have come a long way but we're not there yet, and like you, I cringe when I hear young women saying "I'm not a feminist but ... Thank you, Stephanie, for saying it so eloquently.
TOTALLY off topic-how is that you are the ONLY one in your family (that I've seen) that has curly hair???
Thank you, again, for your moving words and beautiful illustrations. My choices as a young adult in the early sixties were shaped by what women were supposed and not supposed to do, not least career, access to birth control and expectation of early marriage. My mother before me was frustrated and often enraged by a husband who loved her but never understood why she should have wanted a profession when bearing his five children (over 23 years!) and caring for him and his career should clearly be such a fulfilling life for any woman. I start to shake when I think about it and grieve for my life, her life and the lives of so many women trapped then and now by the laws, rules and expectations of gender. It doesn't help to know that I wasn't brave or wise enough to fight when I could have, but did as the conventional wisdom taught.
Knitting is one of the things that gets me through these fits of regret, a so-called woman's craft with magical powers to pacify most demons.
I think the problem comes by trying to define "radical". I can guarantee you that there are widely differing opinions on what makes someone a radical-feminist (or radical-anything else).
thanks for a great post. i am a liberal feminist and proud of it!
Why aren't you running a country somewhere in your spare time? Well said!
Well said. I wish I had your knack for stating the obvious.
I'm with you, sister! For my mother, my daughter, my nieces, my self, my friends, and the world!
I sure am glad CJane saw this!
Dislike labels, but well said.
Love the socks with the reversed stripes...will be "borrowing" your concept.
There does seem to habit of finding the absolute whackalooniest members of a particular group and then use that as the baseline for the group. What is it about humans that they tend to want to see the worst in people? At least that appears to be one place where the sexes are equal.
Are people so afraid of change? So afraid to let others share the wealth of freedom and equality, as if there isn't enough to go around? (don't answer that, I already know that it's a resounded "Yes!")
Lovely pictures of the lovely women in your life! Wow, your daughters look so much like your sister! Very eloquent essay. I had some tough experiences in college (early '80's) with "feminists" who left a bad taste in my mouth...I felt that this group's agenda was to convince me to accept their version of what my life should look like (high powered career, social action, no men--as they held you back--and certainly no children) and that seemed to me swapping one oppression for another. I made my own definition that went more like "women (and men) should be able to define their own lives in the way that fulfills them and not be confinded or forced into roles that they do not want to have". I soon learned about the real definition, and, as you explained, I felt much better about the word "feminism". It does take courage and energy to stand up for your beliefs in any group, and especially one who is claiming to be "improving" or "saving" you. As I sit here reading womens' stories I realize that those can give us the energy we need! And one of my favorite things about knitting guild is that I interact with women in all walks and phases of life.
one of my favorite posts by you...ever. Thank you.
Lovely post, Stephanie. Thank you.
I applaud you, Step, for using the bully pulpit you've created through your own sweat and tears to say what you believe.
Since I was little, I've always wished that people who already have the attention of others would use that to plainly state what they believe to be true, rather than sitting back and playing it safe. Especially if I agree with them, as I do with you!! Gorgeous pictures!!
once again, well written, and with a great deal of tact and grace. bravo!
What a perfect explanation of why we should all be calling ourselves Feminists.
I am going to share this particular edition of your blog with many people.
I know that this is beside your point (which I agree with):
Just have to say that your daughters are lovely.
Your words painted a perfect description, so well written. Thank you for that and sharing your beautiful pictures. They are all so lovely.I plan to share this with my three daughters, who I am proud to say are feminists, like me.
I hear people say stuff like that all the time about feminism, and I am ashamed to say that I have been somewhat hesitant to describe myself as feminist because of it. Thanks for knocking some sense into me :)
Thank you! this is an important issue!
I am originally from Colombia, lived in Chile for 8 years and now live in Michigan, I am amazed at the lack of acknowledgement international women's day has here, and honestly sadden by it.
Thank you for saying this. It's beautiful!
I'm a Susan B. Anthony kind of feminist...but I have a feeling we won't be using this word much more in the future. How many young women even know who Gloria Steinem is? I rest my case.
Great pictures, thanks a bunch. Can't help noticing how all your daughters - beauties, every one - have "good" hair. How did that happen?
This. Is. Beautiful. Thank you for this.
Proud feminist here. I refuse to let a handful of morons define what I am.
Things aren't "good enough." And I will not rest or shut up until they are, including equal pay for equal work in developed nations and very basic rights for women in developing nations -- these are the big, truly important things. On the home front, I will NOT shut up about removal of labels for "boy toys and girls toys," I will NOT shut up about the conspiracy to fill girls' brains with calorie-counting and makeup trends so they grow into women who are better at consuming makeup, high heels, pantyhose, hair dye, nail polish, diet products and "beauty" magazines than they are at thinking. I will NOT shut up until vaccum cleaner ads start showing deliriously happy MEN cleaning floors. I will not shut up until a lot of other stuff happens, too.
The very reason that "some people" (I call them "right-wing nutjobs") have negative associations with the word "feminist" is the VERY reason that each and every woman who believes she has the right to be an equal human being with the other half of the planet should proudly say, "I am a feminist. Now stuff your preconceived notions in your back pocket."
Bravo, Stephine. Effin' BRAVO.
Too many don't know the definition of "feminist" -- too many women, too! Thanks for clarifying so beautifully. And thanks for the gorgeous pix of your family. I notice that all your daughters have "good" hair - isn't is wonderful what DNA can do?
And, I'm telling my daughter, sisters, gal-friends to read this post !
Thank you for putting into words what I've felt about being a Feminist.
You stated it all perfectly.
Thank you for a wonderful post. And to Kay on the 8th at 4:45 pm, there is a lot of evidence that the wage gap is not due to the choices women make. Check out http://www.catalyst.org/publication/372/pipelines-broken-promise for an eye opening look at how far we still have to go.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from my Alumni association about a young woman who is an environmental engineering graduate from the university I went to who has been accepted into the nuclear submarine program for the Navy. This young woman is going to command nuclear submarines. We've come a long way in the 30 years since I was in the Navy and got to look at a sub from the outside because I was dating one of the officers. And a much longer way since the year my grandmother was born (the year women got the right to vote in the US).
Still a long way to go, tho, so yes, we need feminists (and humanists, too).
Dear Stephanie -- on this we agree. And I love your mom's hairstyle!
Here's my response when somebody says something disparaging about being a feminist or makes a sexist comment.
I tell them that a feminist is a person who believes in equal rights for woman. So the question isn't "why am I a feminist" but rather "why *aren't* you a feminist?" (Yes, I say this to men.)
I also point out to them that if they replaced the word "woman" with "African American" or "Asian" they probably wouldn't make their comment, because that would be racist, right? Well that's what feminism is: not being "racist" to women.
This is why we love you: wise, funny, witty, forthright.
love love love love love. That's all I can say.
Wow. Wish I'd read this yesterday. It would have made a great birthday even better.
But it's fantastic reading every day. Thank you. :)
Amen, from me and my two daughters.
I was wondering why there were two pictures of Meg -- she and your sister really look a lot alike!
And... thank you -- as a mother of three daughters, one of four daughters, oldest of 14 grandaughters (of four sisters)... thank you! (we do have a very small number of amazing young men in those numbers also... most of whom have brought at least one amazing and and strong female into our group)
Agree (1,000) To borrow from Ravelry. Thank you.
What a beautiful post! You are so eloquent, and everything you write is a pleasure to read.
I am proud to call myself a feminist (although I too was afraid of the term until I learned its real meaning in a gender psychology class a few years ago), and to be married to feminist man.
What a lovely, clear and articulate discussion. So glad to hear you had this discussion. I've heard it many times myself, in fact have had the conversation go sour... But still, I am a young woman who will proudly take on the label of feminist, in fact, a radical feminist, without fear of repercussions.
This made me tear up -- beautifully put. Thank you.
Been away for a month. what a great post to come back to. I'm a feminist too, been one for years. Rock on, girl.
Amen! Living in the US, where we haven't even ratified CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) which is generally described as "an international bill of rights for women" -- I can say that I applaud your talking to that young woman.
Young women need to take up what we've been fighting for. I'm ashamed that those other nations who haven't signed on to CEDAW include such "luminaries of womens' rights" as Sudan, Iraq and a couple of Pacific Island nations... I'm just ashamed.
Bravo on a wonderful post! And love the pictures.
Damn good post.
Proudly feminist over here. Used to have a similar can't-be-a-feminist-because-I'm-not-radical-and-anyway-things-are-okay-here-now attitude, but I got over it when I was about 17.
FANTASTIC!!! Great post. Well-said!
Great post, thanks! I fear that the young woman who is afraid to be called a feminist doesn't realize that those that put her down for being feminist probably don't want her to have equality.
Very well said. Your beautiful daughters should be proud to have a mom who stands up for herself, them, and all women.
I'm a feminist and so is my husband, sister and mother. I am working on my son.
I thought your sister was one of your daughters until I scrolled down! Your girls are gorgeous!
Amen, sister! I've never shied away from declaring myself a Feminist. I got a great discussion going once with some of my students when they saw this quote up on my classroom wall (from Rebecca West): I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
Thank you for this well written essay. I'm forwarding it to my daughters and grand-daughters.
This battle won't be won until our brothers are feminists, too. I'm proud to say I'm a feminist.
You certainly have three beautiful daughters.
Printing this and placing it where all the really important things that are honorable go in my home -- the refrigerator.
I am a feminist and a Christian. I hope those aren't oxymoronic. Yes, there are many who espouse the faith of value of Christianity and hesitate to call themselves Christian's because of the labelling and stereotyping.
On IWD Ursula Franklin made me cry. She was on the radio and she said, and I paraphrase, "feminists didn't fight so women could have jobs just so they could afford a nanny." I have a better job than my mom ever did so I can afford to have someone else raise my kids. Such a complex issue. I'm knitting some lovely worksocks from a kit (Freshisle Manitoulin Island) maybe that will make me feel better about where I'm at and where I could be.
I hope so! I've always been a feminist. I'm a femme.
Me-one of five sisters, mom of five daughters, daughter of mom who was one of four sisters.....Blessed to know strong women, become a strong woman and praying to raise strong women! Thanks Steph
awesomely said!! Thank you, and amen!
Amen! All true, except I am still looking for an honest plumber, and with a 100 year old house, it seems I get to look often....
I had to think about this one a bit. Why do I object to being called a feminist when I totally agree with the dictionary definition? Then I realized it. The English language changes much faster than dictionaries. It used to be that I would call moths wicked. Now I would never! That would insinuate that they're cool. I hate moths. Feminist is the same kind of word. To many people it no longer represents the true values of feminism. Instead it stands for man haters who want to devalue men instead of raise the value of women. I have value in and of myself. I don't need to put down anyone to raise my value. I want ALL humans to be respected and treated equally, men and women both. Sad that this is how the "on-the-street" definition of feminism has changed.
In addition to knowing the deffinition of feminism, I remember in 4th grade english when we looked at where words came from, how they were formed, and how we could determine what a word might mean from the way it was constructed.
When I look at feminism... and consider what I know Feminine to mean, I can't help but think 'Why would anyone ascribe an agenda for equality to only half of the population'.
After being raised by a feminist, and educated by a feminist - I learned very well that discrimination was wrong, and that the naming of things matters. Womyns rights groups spring to mind as a very feminist example of the oppression of gender discriminatory naming. And being raised and educated to know that equality is important and discrimination is wrong - I can't help but think that feminism is an awful name for an equal rights agenda.
I'm an equalitarian. In addition to believing in the equal rights of people of all genders, I believe in the equal rights of all adults, all religions, all political affiliations and all sexual preferences. I believe in the equal rights of all ethnicites, all nationalities, and all cultural and social identification groups. Regardless of gender.
Being an equalitarian, I have no difficulty being outraged by sexual harassment in the work place, gender discrimination in the family courts, homophobia in the military, racism in economic trade restrictions, agism in professional industry or political discrimination in regional workforces. And I'm not associating myself with a lunatic fringe like 2nd Wave feminism.
In the western first world, there's no cause for differentiating feminism from equalitarianism, other than gender bias on the part of feminists. There may well still be agendas for improving gender equality in the western first world. Equality is an awesome goal - if only more activists could get past the lure of progressing a self focused agenda and start actually working towards it.
Thank you. That was just what I needed today, and it's been one of those days.
If only people treated feminism according to its true definition. Sadly, many women seem to be ashamed to be women and the use feminism as a reason to become more like men. I don't believe that this is really feminism at all.
What a beautifully stated case for remaining true to your ideas and principals! Thank you!
Thank you thank you thank you- so well said.
I read and love your blog faithfully- and usually laugh until my sides hurt- but this is the first time I've felt compelled to comment. As a young female librarian in a small conservative village in upstate New York I face sexism everyday. Women using our internet to search for jobs when they're laid off before their male counterparts, girls with no self esteem while their brothers apparently walk on water, even the president of the library board will defer on important issues to the opinion of the sole male trustee for no apparent reason. Its everywhere but no one wants to talk about it. The whole "everything is better now" myth is alive and well here. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not crazy, I'm not alone. It makes me speak up that much louder and fight that much harder the next day. I know this blog is about knitting and I LOVE that...but whenever you address something important like parental/gender stereotypes or women's rights you make a little librarian in Ovid whisper loudly "YES!"...and then the patrons look at her funny but that's okay too.
Went looking for your LOVE button, and AGREE button. Well written. Bravo.
Well said for all the women of the world! Your family is beautiful.
I'm so glad you eloquently wrote about this! Thanks to you, many will now access your balanced and thoughtful points. To Debbie @10:50 re: Why are people so afraid to let others share the wealth of freedom and equality? I think it is that some people think that if they share power, there won't be as much for them. To Eva@11:19 early feminists were haters of men... Did you mean Mary Wollstonecraft or Sojourner Truth? Perhaps you meant Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony? You see oppression and the need for feminism goes back before the memory of all who are alive today, all. Oppression creates extremists. The women you named always said it was about choice, to choose for yourself instead of someone else doing it for you. I can remember reading a piece Gloria Steinem wrote specifically saying women should be able to stay home or work and she didn't want anyone to give the stay-at- home ones a hard time. I remember the 60's and 70's, when the prevailing attitude was that women just didn't have the capability to think for themselves. It must also be remembered there were those on both sides with no respect for men. Phyllis Schlafly said she didn't want feminism. She could control her husband better without it. To this day I remember it because it was so shocking. As for the destruction of the family unit, I think we can look at the Industrial Revolution.
Thank you and more power to you and your beautiful family, Stephanie! I'm proud to call myself a feminist, and fortunately my daughters (and my husband)feel the same way.
What a great piece, I am so glad you have written this with your customary eloquence and clarity. I think a lot of people can't see the wood for the trees on this issue.
I am a feminist, and you can be one regardless of gender,as several of my male friends admirably demonstrate.
Thanks for saying this. I hate that I am made to feel uncomfortable saying that I'm a feminist because of the extreme.
Thank you for this post. As a 52 year old woman I'm not proud to say I've shied away from labeling myself feminist because of the negative connotations, mostly from men, now that I think about it.
After reading your post I am going to proudly label myself a feminist whenever the word comes up as a negative while trying to gently educate the misinformed. And I will have my 18 year old daughter read today's blog to make sure she truly understands what feminism means.
We have a long way to go for women's equality around the world.
from my long-dead grandmother to my 9-year-old granddaughter -- and probably farther back in history -- stretches an unbroken line of feminist women, all of whom would appreciate your comments.
for many years, my mother was the confidential secretary to an industrialist and his top executives. one of them told her, "dorothy, if you were a man, we would elect you to our board." instead, when she married my dad and became pregnant with me, she had to leave her job -- and sell her stock . . . which would have made her much more prosperous, had she been allowed to keep it.
(she and my father went into business themselves; they beat the odds. 60 years later, my oldest niece (also a feminist) is manager and plans to buy it from my brother and me.)
Beautiful post! I decided that I was a feminist the day that my FIL was in my passenger seat & asked me to excuse his freaking out because "we" [in the family] did not let women drive. He came out of this alive, and I came out an avowed feminist. Values may differ on issues but that's okay.
as this is comment number 387 i have no idea if anyone will read it, but i need to write it.
well said, certainly. and i sense a hidden meaning in the young woman's definition of "extremist". i wonder if she meant lesbian. that was the big issue in the 60s...any woman who called herself a feminist was assumed to be a lesbian.
many feminists are; many feminists aren't.
many lesbians are; many lesbians aren't.
equality works every which way.
and lots of lesbians knit! i know...i'm one of them.
Well said and I am so happy to see intelligent discourse about a very important subject. I think younger women need to hear from us about where we have been, where we had hoped to go and how women have gotten the rights they have and how much still needs to change. Beautiful pictures, you missy are a lucky feminist !
you are such a great writer Stephanie xxblessinga
I love your Christian (etc) analogy too--so true!
I took Women and Language course in college, where I learned that historically language associated with women degrades over time. "Harlot" for example used to refer to a "lass" or "young miss" and we know what happened to THAT word. So it goes for "feminist".
Thank you so much for your thoughts.
I said for years "I'm not a feminist!" while I was joining the military, working in a "man's profession," proving that a woman can and should be able to all those things a man can do. And then I read the definition.
I'm a feminist!
as an aside, second to last picture, ring on finger... does one of your daughters need to start a blog or do a guest post to share some news?
Well said and lovely photos of fellow feminists!
Until we see buisness corporations with boards chaired by women and women breaking through business' glass ceiling - we have much work left to accomplish! Here's is to this generation and the one after us to ensure women receive equal pay, equal pay for performance, equal seats on company boards and leadership roles aplenty.
You have beautiful daughters! And your mom looks like someone nice to talk with and listen to. And I wish I had a sister. :)
Thank you, Stephanie. Just thank you. I teach graduate courses in Christian spirituality and I'm always amazed at how many of my students shy away from the word "feminist" ... until they learn the definition!
Well said, indeed!
Thanks Steph! I've been passing on your link for a few days... Anyhoo!
A poster mentioned above that in the US, if education et al are equal then women do make the same. I respectfully disagree. I was hired a few years ago for a carpentry job. My husband and I were hired separately for the same crew. The spelling of my first name is usually considered the "male" form of the name and we were both hired at $14 per hour. Later on, the same company was putting together a crew. Same company, different crew, same hiring coach (who now knew my gender) and my husband was called and hired at $14.50. Which was sort of odd as I had actually gotten a slightly better review and have a small bit of seniority. When my husband found out there were still openings he suggested the coach call me, as he knew I had room in my schedule for it. When they finally called me, I was offered $12 per hour. I turned it down and told them why. I do not build things with my vagina, nor does it get in the way when I do build things. I refuse to be penalized for it. I would have taken the job for the same rate of pay as before, or at least the same as the rest of the crew with my skill set! When we got down to brass tacks, my husband reconsidered his position and did not take the job. It was not that he was demanding they hire his wife as well, it was because discrimination sucks. The real kick in the pants is that the coach is my age. Not a dinosoar. Same age as me. He just hadn't got the message. I did kick and scream enough to bring it to the attention of his higher ups. I hope unemployment has been good to him.
This was 2 years ago.
Equality is NOT achieved, there is still work to be done and we need every hand on deck.
On the other hand, I do feel for your daughter. My problem with being a labelled a feminist is not the negative stereotype; it's that I feel the label is somewhat limiting. I want equality for EVERYONE. I do not care about the plumbing, or the color of the skin, or the sexual identity issues. All I want is the same chance at the brass ring for all of us.
Am I right in understanding that your publishing company PAYS someone to edit your work? She (?) should pay them for the privilege of being first to read it. (And then, please, just rubber-stamp it!)
Though a "Christian", in terms of having a relationship with Christ, I still dislike what's happened to the term "Christian". My husband was a military chaplain for a number of years and the agony I went through every time I had to meet new neighbors in base housing. Right after the question of rank, came the question of what he did. The moment I said chaplain, the inevitable next question would be what franchise. I knew my answer would define us according to a denominational "Box", even though there was no way to do justice to the all-inclusive spiritual person that my husband is. Over the years, I've stopped using the term Christian, preferring instead to call myself Spiritual (a term that covers many, regardless of belief).
yes yes, go steph, and right on and all that. i really like reading about your KNITTING. i miss it. especially when the rants start coming more often than the knitting. and yes, i do believe in Christ and everything that christianity is defined as and and i REALLY WOULD like to be called something else when the crazy Westboro Baptist types start in. um, wouldn't you like to be called something else when crazy feminist types start in? that's what i thought. my scarf is sitting by itself, so if you'll excuse me, i'm wasting my knitting time on political rants, and if i wanted to do that i could call my parents.
How do you know the absolute right thing to say? Thank you!
Thank you for an awesome, eloquent post!
My children and I marched to the Capitol to support the Equal Rights Amendment back in the '70s. We carryed banner we made. It was a glorious day, one I will never forget. Thank goodness for all who took part even the "radicals"!
There is a post over on Shakespearessister called "Feminism 101" and I swear it is the best thing Ive ever ever read.
6. A woman with intersectional marginalizations cannot wrench herself into parts. Asking a woman to set aside her race, or disability, or sexuality, or body size, or stature, or whatever, in order to discuss a "woman's issue," is to fail to understand that one's womanhood is inextricably linked to the other aspects of one's identity.
7. It is similarly unfair to ask a woman to leave aside her personal experience and discuss feminist issues in the abstract. You are discussing the stuff of her life. Asking her to "not make it personal" is to ask her to wrench her womanhood from her personhood.
9. Don't play Devil's advocate. Seriously. Just don't.
I would make this required reading if I was queen of the world.
I will send anyone who needs this talk to you. My uncharitable interpretation is that when someone says they aren't a feminist, what they mean is, I think I'm entitled to full equality and freedom but I don't want to SAY SO because people will think I'm ICKY. So I may not be as qualified to have this talk as you are!
Well-said! As a Christian I cringe that groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are viewed as defining what Christians are. And just where do they get the money to go protesting all over the country when they are supposed to be such a amll group?
Great post, YH. I have similar conversations with many women who think feminism means putting men down in order to lift women up. Or not being a "real" woman — loving, gracious, desirable to men (apparently) — if we stand up and insist on being counted.
Next, please educate people who don't understand why affirmative action has been necessary; why it was created, and what it was intended to do.
I always hear people saying how terrible it is if a man is passed over and a job given to a woman who has fewer qualifications or experience, because "the best person for the job should get it."
Until women are in positions of power and influence, and in equal numbers, the playing field is not even. Men keep hiring more men than women. One of the ways that will change is when women are in positions to do the hiring. But it's a catch-22 because they don't get there without some systemic help.
People don't have a very deep understanding of what affirmative action is (for) and I would love to see someone with your abilities make it clear to them.
I called myself anti-feminist until I took a women's studies course. (It filled an engineering requirement, and I didn't like the subject, so I was fulfilling the need to be aware of what it was I said I didn't like.) Then I learned how many women, and not necessarily radicals, use the word "feminism" to describe something other than the belief that women and men are equals. Or, worse, use it to justify anti-feminist behaviour. I'm still not sure I like the word.
And yes, while it does apply, I get leary about calling myself a Christian, because there are so many people who think that it means something else. Drives me crazy when someone says "Christians are stupid because they don't believe in evolution" (Or, the flip side "of course I don't believe in evolution, I'm a Christian"). But you're right - I have a double standard with those. Largely based on the consensus definitions of the word. If a lot of people start saying that alum no longer refers to an aluminium compound, then I'm no longer an alumna, I'm an alum. Similarly, if enough of the population thinks that "feminist" means I have to think that men and women are exactly the same, and that no special treatment is required, then I'm no longer a feminist.
I was catching the bus near Sydney Uni, (Australia), the other day when I spied a young woman in a T-shirt which read "This is what a feminist looks like". The women's collective at the Uni had been giving them out during orientation week. I thought it was a wonderful idea - a very smart and witty idea, and chatted with the young woman when she sat down next to me. I told her that I'd been worried that young women today were frightened of using the word. She said that many still were, hence the t-shirt. I asked if any men were wearing the t-shirt around the uni. One of the young men sitting next to her said he would wear it if they made it in men's sizes. We discussed the possibility of another print run for the t-shirts. Thanks for your post - the discussion of feminism still needs to carry on.
It is trite to notice this in light of the profound and perfect wisdom you have imparted. I mean this very, very sincerely; I am sending your entry to my own daughter hoping she will live the words and be an example to her own young daughters.
Nonetheless. Where did you get those curls?
Having said that...you and every one of the women in your family are beautiful.
Thank you with love and gratitude from Texas.
I'm Heather, I am a feminist. Equality regardless of gender. Feminism is not a dirty word.
I should apologise for allowing myself to misuse the term "pro-sex" the way that people misuse "feminism". Just because the people who say that people should be defined by their genitalia, and that there's no good reason to not have sex, call themselves pro-sex, it doesn't follow that pro-sex is necessarily negative.
I knew I liked you! Wish we could sit and knit and talk together...I need more people around me like you! It is hard to say you're a "feminist" down here in good ol' Texas, but I shall try to remember your words to relay to others when I do. Thank you. (I've often thought I should move to Canada!)
And your daughters and mother are beautiful!
GREAT pictures...so nice to see my eastern family :) all great woman OX
Love your blog and everything you do for knitting... living in Madison, Wi, and an avid knitting, have you thought about a sock summit in the midwest? Madison has a great Frank Lloyd Wright Convention Center, right on Lake Monona, great hotels and restaurants... would love to get this going in the future!!!!
I am a feminist too... and I'm proud to be one !
I'm a feminist too, and one of those scary lesbian hairy-legged radical feminists to boot. I'll let you in on a secret though- rad-fems also do not believe that women are "better" than men - that's just what Rush Limbaugh et al want you to believe.
I've been teaching piano and voice lessons since the '70s, and I remember one time a very prim mom saying how "lucky" I was that my husband was out working and I could stay home with the children (I had 2 under 5, and taught 60 lessons a week). She then asked me what I did with my "pin" money. When I asked her what she meant, she said, "Well, you know, the money you make giving lessons. Do you buy jewelry and shoes?" "No", I answered. "I buy food to feed my family". That was probably the biggest anti-feminist comment I ever received and she didn't even know it. Yep, been a feminist a long time.
Beautiful - both the pictures and the words.
I should mention. After reading what I just read, you sound like an exciting author! Really, you use very good grammar, proper use of pronunciations, proper everything! I might also like to add and say that I believe you pin pointed my style of writing as well which I enjoy! What I also like about your blog is that you give an opportunity for a larger variety of an audience to unravel the immense storyline of your writings. And with that, I believe you will definitely continue succeeding in flourishing an exceptionally well written piece :)
I must mention. After reading what I just read, you sound like an amazing author! Really, you use very good grammar, proper use of pronunciations, proper everything! I might also like to add and say that I think you pin pointed my style of writing as well which I enjoy! What I also like about your blog is that you give an opportunity for a larger variety of an audience to unravel the immense storyline of your writings. And with that, I believe you will definitely continue succeeding in flourishing an exceptionally well written piece :)
I should say. After reading what I just read, you are an fantastic author! Really, you use proper grammar, proper use of pronunciations, proper everything! I might additionally like to add and say that I think you pin pointed my style of writing as well which I adore! What I also like about your blog is that you give an opportunity for a wider variety of an audience to unravel the immense storyline of your writings. And with that, I believe you will definitely keep up succeeding in flourishing an exceptionally well written piece :)
Just kind of fell into your blog here, originally on the "I know what girls like" and just kind of worked my way backwards. I absolutely agree with your logic in this! Just had to share. More people need to dust off their dictionary or, for pete's sake, do a wiki search!
Wow. I love this. Have 2 boys and 1 grown daughter, and one granddaughter and this should be required reading for EVERYONE! Also had 9 foster-daughters over the years and tried to talk to them about all of this. Some of it fell on stony ground, but that didn't stop me from trying. Failure of a 14 yr old to understand WHY she has so many choices now, as opposed to 30 years or 60 years ago, does not mean you stop trying to enlighten her. Luckily, I have also managed to enlighten my sons and they are LOVELY young men who appreciate and understand women, and who unequivocally believe in and fight for equality. LOVE IT.
Wow, your girls grew up, didn't they? They're lovely. I remember when they were so much smaller.... I can't believe how fast time flies.
So many posts.... obviously touched a nerve here... Read "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" by Peggy Orenstein. An interesting, although sometimes hard to follow, take on how marketing has corrupted our "Girl Power" message that so many of us older than 25 or 30 grew up with. Thank you! I will definately be empowered to have some talks with my girls. Thank you!
Maybe it's a young woman thing. When I was in my late 20s I told an older cousin I didn't consider myself a feminist. After she got up off the floor from her laughing fit, she made it CLEAR that I was indeed a feminist and should be proud of it!
Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it,I will be back to read more in the future.
Thanks Steph! I'm forwarding your blog to the important people in my life. And, do your girls know how much they look like each other?
I have boys--3 of them. I work in a male-dominated profession. For me, it's all boys, all the time. My first job---I was told they were so glad they had finally hired a woman, they had been getting flack from the administration about that. Back then, I would look around at a professional conference, and there would be 1 or 2 woman in a room of 75. Last week I was at a similar type of conference, and there were 8 women out of about 70 or so. So, yes, some progress in 25 years, but nothing like equality. As a mother of boys, my job is to raise men who believe in equality of women. As an older professional in a male-dominated field, I try to encourage the younger women to continue to believe in themselves. But as Stephanie points out, the biggest battles are not here in North America. Thank you all for your inspiring messages.
Stephanie, I'm an avid reader but never post as I'm shy about it. I had to break my fear to say thank you for this post. You made me tear up it was so well put. THANK YOU.