The “F” Word
I can’t remember how old I was when “feminism” became part of my vocabulary. I was raised by a strong professional woman who told bedtime stories of Spiderwoman and Supergirl (it was only much later that I learned their male counterparts existed). My mother’s sister once teased that it was obvious which children were hers. We were the ones in a game of house who bid our pretend husbands farewell as we went off to work.
Because of my mother, I grew up with a very strong belief that with hard work and determination I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. And not just me, but anyone no matter what their gender, race or sexual orientation. To me, feminism was that fierce belief in equality for all people.
It wasn’t until I was in university that I learned feminism has a bit of an image problem. Friends and acquaintances seemed to think that feminism was synonymous with man-hating or angry women with hairy armpits (I’ll admit I fall into the latter category now and again but only because I am a real person with real emotions who is also lazy, not because I am a feminist). For years I have defended feminism to anyone who will listen, but then something happened that made me want to do more.
My wife and I were discussing a recent cyber-attack on a celebrity who spoke out in support of women’s rights when my wife said the unthinkable, “I think feminism is stupid.” My heart stopped. I was in disbelief. Of course, after I finished expressing my very strong emotional response, I understood that what she meant was not that the belief system of feminism is stupid but the term itself. She reasoned that if feminism really is the belief that all persons are equal and should be treated as such, then it should be called something else. Like “being a real person” she offered, since in her mind what real person would not support such a cause.
I gave this idea a lot of thought; she is the brilliant woman I married after all. But sadly, I don’t think it is the case that every real person supports the cause of equality. All one has to do is read the comments section of any article about a vulnerable group to see that racism, sexism, ableism and homophobia are still rampant in our world. So, rather than abandon my beloved feminism, I thought I’d start this blog to counter the smear campaign that has been underway for many years. It is my hope that this blog will enhance awareness, incite action and maybe even inspire change. Or maybe it will just convince my wife not to shy away from the “F” word. That would be ok too.