It's awkward to admit now, but definitions of feminism penned by anti-feminists used to make me shy away from the word. My ideas were clearly feminist ideas, but I worried that the term was so widely misunderstood as to make it useless. Conversations about my (feminist!) ideals often went something like this:
Dude: "So, what are you - like, a feminist or something?"
Me: "I believe in liberating both sexes from the gender stereotypes that limit them, and I think that a lot more needs to be done to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women."
Of course, those lines pretty much define my feminism, and it only took two days of working at my university's Women's Center before I learned to openly embrace the word. I have since come to believe that attempts to discredit the term feminism are generally used to silence those who notice sexism in our societies and those who work to make things more equitable.
Perhaps memories of my past reluctance to claim the appropriate term for my philosophies added to the sting I felt when reading the definitions of feminism over at Urban Dictionary last week, but the vitriol I saw there really threw me into a funk. Based on the UD rants and recent media uses of the word, it seems like attacks on feminism and its values have gained force in recent years. I worry that younger generations of women will face even more resistance to both the word and the values it implies if we continue to allow feminist to be used as a synonym for words like harpy and misandrist.
So, I'd like to come up with some more useful definitions of feminism than the ones over at UD, and I'd like your help. I'm hoping to gather some feminist readings of feminism, and some feminist perspectives on what it means to be a feminist. If you're interested in adding your thoughts, please send any of the following to me at pobrehabladora [at] gmail [dot] com by next Thursday evening:
1. Your definition of feminism
2. A post on how you came to call yourself a feminist, or your 'click moment' with feminism
3. How you practice feminism in your daily life, and how others respond
4. Links to posts you've already written about any of the above
Depending on what type of responses we get, I'll either do a single post listing definitions or a series of guest posts. Of course, you'll get credit for your words - so please send a byline telling a bit about yourself or a link to your profile or blog. Naturally, feel free to leave your thoughts on any of the above in comments as well.
Remember - send your definitions or posts by the evening of Thursday, June 19th!