As a student at Brigham Young University, I am surrounded by a fairly conservative bunch. In a Family Theory class a few months back, we were asked to invite professional women who self identified as feminists for a panel discussion. (Discussion of the panel can be found here and here) During this panel, Courtney Kendrick asked if feminist was a bad word on campus. A few nervous laughs, but otherwise awkward silence as the class all realized that it probably was a ‘bad word’ in their minds and in the minds of their peers.
After this panel, I was thinking and talking to my husband and we realized that the term feminist scares people because of the historical connotations and images people have in their minds. In nearly every conversation about feminism, I feel that a definition needs to be given. Everyone has their own ‘brand’ of feminism. When pressed on the issue, most people identify with ideas that are feminist at heart. Equal pay. Access to education. Etc. These are strictly feminist. What people are imagining are these man-hating, bra-burning, demanding women. This isn’t the picture for every feminist, or even the majority.
What is my brand of feminism? I’m not sure yet. I suppose that a lot of it isn’t vying for major reforms in society. Maybe I am a feminist on the issues that don’t have a solid backing. When someone asks, “Why can’t/isn’t a woman do this instead/as well?” and the answer is “They just never have”, I have more of a problem. Excluding/diminishing women because it is the tradition doesn’t sit right with me. If there is a reason, that is fine and I accept that. I just like to know the answers. I need to hammer out what exactly I think, but I think that will come with time.
Are you a feminist? What does your ‘brand’ look like?