Note: You can always follow my journey in real-time on my blog, So about what I said...
Feminism – or at least its definition – seems to be taking quite the beating lately. Feminists must be this. Feminists can’t be that. Feminists must always have their “sexist” radar on high-alert and be ready to recite the Feminist Manifesto at the first signs of trouble, because, after all, they are representing all women, all the time.
I saw a few glimpses of a feminist shift recently when I met my friend Claire for lunch. We’d always been feminists: independent, feisty, opinionated, strong-willed, in-charge women.
Yet during our lunch, we somehow found ourselves on the topic of men: what type we usually go for, how hot they are and how a couple guys’ mixed signals was (frustratingly) throwing off our love radar.
If you listen to some people (read: staunch, old-school feminists), we were bad girls. We’d committed the ultimate feminist faux pas, something that flew in the face of everything the generation of women had fought so hard for during the Women’s Liberation Movement.
What exactly had we betrayed? Leave it to this anonymous poster, who left this note on my blog:
"I also know quite a few feminists who would have a problem with quite a bit in this blog, and not just Man Candy Monday."
It’s true. Every Monday on my blog, I profile a famous guy who is perfect eye candy. I should be punished or stoned in the town square for my horrible crime. Ooops, looks like I noticed the opposite sex a bit too much. There was the answer in black-and-white: I had (gasp!) acknowledged the male species as something other than a chauvinist, sexist, dictator.
So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Women should take control of their sexuality, just not be the least bit vocal about it? A submissive feminist, maybe?
It looks like Ms. Anonymous (and the Ms. is just a shot in the dark here) missed the breaking news on the rise of the Modern Feminist.
Feminism has always been about self-control, about women claiming their supreme control over their lives. It’s about women controlling their own lives, their own behavior, and their own bodies, their own everything.
I don’t have a problem with fruitful discussions of feminism. I really don’t. What I do have a problem with is using the word feminism as if it were a bolded phrase in the back of a high-school textbook: static, never-changing, the definition as relevant today as it was when the textbook was copyrighted in 1956.
I don’t buy that. Feminism, by its very nature, has never been prone to static-cling. It’s changed with the times – by the very women who wanted to change the times. In the 1920s, feminism meant fighting for the right to vote. In the 1970s and 1980s, it meant securing a rightful position in the workforce, demanding equal pay and shattering the ubiquitous glass ceiling.