Talking About a Revolution: Views of feminism often misconstrued

One of my favorite bags has a bright red button on the strap that crosses my chest. It's only about an inch in diameter, but its statement is a strong one. "Proud to be a feminist."

And I knew on that first day I placed it on my strap that it was going to receive some comments. A cashier at a local shop asks me "What was his name?" I look at him suspiciously. He continues. "The man who pissed you off." He snickers at his sharp wit. I calmly explain that he has a misconstrued concept of feminism.

This is common.

Stereotypes of feminists still exist. Bra-burner, man-hater, bitch, dyke, baby-killer, whore. Feminists are also job-snatchers and power-hungry and quickly destroying the American nuclear family. n

And let us not forget the view that feminism is a waste of time. "Really, you have the vote, what else is left to complain about?"

There is much to complain about, and until our world allows for all people to truly possess their rights, there will always be a group of people demanding equality. One such group is the feminists.

Men and women should be treated equally, but currently they are not. This causes problems in our society. If you agree, you might want to consider adding a feminist button to your wardrobe, because you already possess the basics of feminist thought.

I find myself involved in many conversations dealing with feminism. I walk into them all the time in class, at bars and at work. My conversation partners vary from friends and family to strangers. The majority of these conversations are spent defining feminism and talking about the stereotypes of feminists.

These stereotypes deter the public from truly understanding what the movement is all about. By shifting the attention away from feminist topics to the feminist image, we lose sight of the bigger picture. We wind up forgetting about the important issues that need to be addressed, and focus on the physical appearance of the people within the movement.

Don't you feel cheated? Shouldn't we really be talking about the fact that still, in 2003, women do not receive equal pay for equal work? One out of every four women will be sexually assaulted. Reproductive rights are constantly being threatened. There are pressing matters at hand that need to be dealt with now.

The topic of feminist stereotypes is an important one, but I hope that we can finally move beyond it and into the core of feminist issues. Understanding the stereotypes of feminists gives us insight into why certain barriers still exist for the movement. This is essential. But we must not use too much of our time just talking about it. Rather than just explain what a feminist is, we can demonstrate what a feminist is, which is much more striking.

"Proud to be a feminist" I am. Regardless of any negative connotation, I continue to wear the label and gain strength from it. It has helped me use my voice.

I encourage you to use yours as well.