Still a ways to go
Tanya is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 15, and it’s fair to say that we know each other better than our husbands probably ever will (okay, not in all ways). We have an arsenal of inside jokes, and a language that’s our own.
When Tanya told me last week that she does not consider herself a feminist, I was extremely surprised. Tanya is smart, liberal, independent, and gets totally ticked off when anyone is treated unfairly, especially her woman friends.
Tanya described a recent encounter: another woman wanted to know if she was a feminist, and Tanya told her she wasn’t sure. The woman practically jumped down her throat, insisting that Tanya is a feminist, and should be one. I agreed with my friend that the woman seems like a jerk, and shared my perspective: that feminists simply believe men and women should be treated equally. Tanya said she does believe that; she just doesn’t want anyone else to force a label on her.
Talking to Tanya reminded me that there are still a lot of women who just aren’t clear about what “feminist” actually means, and that the term continues to be associated with being radical and in-your-face and man-hating.
The last thing we need to be doing is coercing or threatening other women that they better start calling themselves a feminist. What’s important is explaining what it actually means and then allowing people to claim the name for their own.
Do you still find women weary of calling themselves “feminist”?