Feminism: the word that has stirred up more attention in the last two years than my entire 27 years of life. In four syllables, the appellation “feminist” has emboldened many to either rise or criticize. I’ve never been able to understand why feminism is the more controversial “f-word,” which is why I’m striving to learn more.
Up until the last few years, Feminism has carried an armored stigma that has painted women that bear the title as hypocritical man haters who studied exclusively at Wellesley carrying jars of male tears in their backpacks. Many women I know KNEW that this wasn’t an accurate depiction; we weren’t angry zealots or bra-burning hippies, but many of us still weren’t sure if we were feminists at all. The red stain of the F-word’s interpretation in culture made many of us as uncomfortable as our first periods. We believed in gender rights and equality, but some didn’t understand that equality is synonymous with feminism.
All stereotypes aside, you cannot put a feminist in a box and categorize she or he the way common era has sought to do. I now appreciate my period (because it gives me the ability to CREATE LIFE if I choose, but the cramps suck); I may want to sometimes burn my bra (for obvious comfort reasons); I have a Coexist bumper sticker, and if I applied to Wellesley I think I would have loved it (because it’s a great school). Does that make me a feminist? No, my passion and purpose to work toward equal rights do. If you asked me six years ago if I was a feminist, I’d say “I don’t know what that means.” If you asked me today, I’d say “aren’t you, too?”
I’ve had conversations with people who feel that feminism is an excluding term. Men have told me that they feel feminism should just be called “equal rights.” Women have told me that feminism is an “injustice.” It’s startling when a group of humans (operative word) is oppressed because they have different organs or differently colored skin, and the unaffected party feels excluded enough to denounce the moniker rather than stand with it.
There’s such misunderstanding for a word that may carry a “female” prefix but aspires for an egalitarian society. I’ve questioned the title myself, and whether female or male, you might have to. To help spur understanding, I’ve gathered a few feminist books on my reading list. Cheers to curling up with a glass of wine, an open mind, and a good book on a movement that is historic.
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
- A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolfe
- The Awakening – Kate Chopin
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur
- The Color Purple – Alice Walker
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- Feminism is For Everybody – Bell Hooks
- The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf
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