Feminism Simplified

by Leandra Medine
November 5, 2013
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The conversation on feminism is a tricky one. It’s a thick subject and its definition often gets muddled by highly articulate, pseudo-but-not-always intellectual sound bites that seem completely devoid of what is arguably a very simple mission based on the principles of equality, as further championed by a microsite that is making its rounds on Twitter this morning.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 10.51.33 AM

Above is a screen shot from the site, which is called amiafuckingfeminist.com. Said site features only a landing page that asks the URL’s question followed by a statement: I believe in the complete equality of men and women. You are prompted to either agree or disagree over a hyperlinked yes or no box and depending on your personal view, you’re then redirected to a page that tells you whether or not you are a feminist. “Feminist” is hyperlinked on this second page and redirects you to a Wikipedia definition.

And that’s the whole thing.

It really is that simple. What’s so fascinating here is that the simplicity is loaded with meaty insinuations. Is anyone really voting no on the topic of what can arguably be defined as not just feminism, but humanism? Is that the site’s point? Are you a fucking feminist?

Talk to me.

REPLIES
  • Guest

    I think this is silly…
    I don’t want to seem like I’m overcomplicating everything but I think there should be a big asterisk beside the word equality. Equality in what? Business? Fashion? Music? Sports? There’s a huge difference between these, and it’s when “feminists” start championing equality across all industries (including fields like sports) that we females lose all credibility. Male models don’t petition their low pay or comparatively infrequent opportunities, and maybe females shouldn’t complain about our low representation in Congress! Sure, there are fewer female politicians, but maybe it’s not due to segregation *gasp* but due to the fact that fewer women actually want to be politicians!
    But then again, do I believe in equality of thought? I guess, why not?! It’s what men and women do with these thoughts that matters.

    • EMR

      This comment makes me really sad, and really makes my brain hurt. I truly hope you are a troll.

      “Male models don’t petition their low pay or comparatively infrequent opportunities, and maybe females shouldn’t complain about our low representation in Congress!”
      Male models should petition their low pay. And women should complain about their low representation in Congress. The reason these things are this way is because of societal constructs, where women have previously been seen as only “pretty things to look at”, and men have been seen as the decision makers. Men should be just as outraged that they do not get the same oppourtunities as women. That’s what “I believe in the complete equality of men and women” means.
      P.S. there are not “Facts” that fewer women actually want to be politicians. It’s due to segregation and ingrained thoughts throughout their lifetimes. Where women are subtly pushed into certain lifstyles that suggest politics are only for men. Realistically, not every woman wants to be a politician. I sure don’t want to be one. But i do work in a very male-dominiated industry and have grown up with this crazy idea that women can do anything that men can. The option to be anything you want to be should be open to both genders.

      • Guest

        I never said it was a “fact”. It is just an anecdote from my own personal experiences. I have far more friends who have dreamed about modeling than politic-ing.. Just an observation…

        Speaking of facts though, men and women are indeed scientifically different! These differences may or may not cause our difference in personalities and they may or may not be exacerbated by gender expectations, but they DO exist. People are born with certain tendencies and we shouldn’t try to deny their existence and say the only reason more women don’t achieve at a high level is because of sexism!
        I want you to understand that I LOVE being a female and I’m incredibly proud of what we have accomplished! Before you start pointing fingers at “sexist men”, though, consider the possibility that not all women have the same desires as men, and that maybe that is what is responsible for our different life paths.

        • Guest

          Also, note that by “different” I do not mean “inferior”. My mom has worked just as hard as a house-wife as my CEO father, and they are both proud of themselves and each other.

        • EMR

          You used the word “fact”. Literally, not figuratively. “*gasp* but due to the fact that fewer women actually want to be politicians!”
          I did not use the phrase “sexist men” anywhere in my response to you. I was not talking about men. I was talking about societal constructs as a whole. You should also note that I think men should have equal standing as women, even in modelling.
          I specifically pointed out that not all women want to be politicians. But you are completely ignoring the reality that society is still constructed to expect certain gender roles based on a history of repression of women. That, specifically, is an actual fact. I’m not saying that every woman should go out there and be a politician. Or that they shouldn’t love every minute of being a SAHM. I am only saying that every woman should be provided an equal oppourtunity to become a politician if she so chooses. And every man should be provided an equal oppourtunity to become a SAHD if he so chooses. Both of these can currently happen, but are not the norm. Each gender should be provided equal oppourtunity.

          • Olivia

            Exactly EMR, just take a look at how Julia Gillard was treated during her years as the Australian Prime Minister. She had to endure constant critisicm for being an unmarried woman, she was told to ‘make an honest woman of herself’ by the leader of the opposition (male) and she was frequently subjected to degrading comments about her apperance. While women in Australia do have the opportunity to venture into politics, they have to deflect and endure constant misogyny and sexism. It’s just not good enough.

    • Moya

      I think you are silly. Sorry, but you’re missing the point. There should absolutely not be asterisks, it’s those asterisks that ruin it for everyone. Here’s the point: Male models SHOULD petition their low wages, this site stands for men as much as it stands for women (that’s what equality is all about sistah…or brother?). The fact you would even mention that we “lose credibility” by trying to fight for equal rights in sports is exactly why feminism has to exist. And as for that plug about females in government, there is SO MUCH history behind why there is a larger male representation in government, and I assure you it is not for lack of want.

      I’m a fucking feminist and I love this fucking site.

    • Tess Harrison

      Almost but not quite. Why aren’t there more women in congress? Because it is much harder to get to congress as a woman than a man. The problem above is that women are not encouraged or accepted in male dominated industries, not because women don’t want to be there.

      • Guest

        I’m not saying that it isn’t harder. Obviously there are some arrogant men who want to hold women back, but I don’t think a minority of few narrow-minded men would be able to hold back an entire gender from accomplishment.

        • EMR

          Are you even aware of what has happened with female suffragists in the past 100 years? That is exactly what happened with a minority of a few narror minded people (not only men) holding back an entire gender from voting.

          Are you aware of the MULTIPLE times I have been asked if I am the Secretary, when in fact I am the Project Engineer? When my SO is asked why he is “only” a nurse by a female patient, because he is male? I hate using the word priviledge, but you suffer from this. You have obviously never encountered sexism, from both ends of the gender spectrum. It happens on a daily basis. It is not a one-off thing by a minority of people

  • norwegian

    I like this. I think the word “feminism”, like many things, has been reduced to its extreme. Most people confuse all feminism with radical feminism, and don’t understand that really it is just the belief that women should be able to choose what they want to do with their life and that they are equal to men. I mean, The Feminist Mystique, while radical for its time, is very mainstream by today’s standards.
    I didn’t even realize that I was a feminist until I took a college class on Feminism and was taught the true definition. I remember talking to some of my very accomplished girlfriends about it, and they would also say they didn’t consider themselves feminists. I’m talking about women who were getting political science and business degrees, and are currently working in Washington. They didn’t consider themselves feminists, even though they were, because they didn’t know what it really was.

  • http://stylecontext.com/ Style Context

    I’m a feminist and I would say that the goals of feminism go beyond equality. One in particular is challenging gender role expectations.

  • EMR

    The specific word “femenism” unfortunately brings up a lot of stereotypes. When I tell people i’m a femenist, they look at me like I have two heads, or say silly things like “but you wear makeup! but you have a boyfriend” etc. I tell them it’s a stereotype not dissimilar to people who stereotype gay males. Not all of them love fashion and home decorating. What makes them a gay male is whether or not they are interested in men. End of story.

    • EMR

      Shoot. Feminism. Sorry about the spelling

      • http://b-tg.tumblr.com/ Colleen Garrity

        I don’t care about the spelling, I still want to up-vote the crap out of everything you’ve said here. Couldn’t agree more!

  • Allie

    I’ve always thought feminism means having my opinions valued the same as a man’s–and quite honestly, in the tracks of academics that I’m in, that’s not currently true. At the same time, I’ve had trouble relating to Feminism (yes, capital F) as a pseudo-political movement. There are aspects that aren’t my gender/sex, that are more important to me than my gender/sex, that determine my opinions on many issues. It’s why I often have a problem with Democratic political campaigns….yes, I have a uterus, but no, I’m not using it to vote. Politicians need to sell me more than reproductive rights when they’re touting policy. That’s one particularly rant-y example though.

  • Z

    I’m actually really excited you put this up Leandra. My boyfriend, his brother, said brother’s girlfriend and I had a two hour conversation trying to define feminism over dinner and it’s interesting if not infuriating to really get to know how men and some non-feminist women perceive ‘feminism’ as a movement.

    I’m 100% a feminist. The common and problematic association that the word conjures up is a kind of militant second wave feminism – burning bras, you’re only a feminist if you reject femininity, and an active rejection of men. I was in a class once where a girl said that she didn’t consider herself a feminist because she was never subject to prejudice or any type of barrier/glass ceiling in her academic career of 21 years and therefore did not see any reason why she should associate herself to the movement.

    It’s really a lot more than that. It’s even more than pay equality or the active quantitative variables in the equation. Women in EU parliament are paid the same amount as men and largely, I believe that that’s what belongs to some separate label such as ‘humanism’. The feminism we should really be tackling is the deeply rooted, almost subconscious sexism, such that being a feminist would be the active participation in trying to rectify received sexism. At least, its third or fourth wave should be defined as such. My boyfriend argued that the ‘feminism’ should only be associated with those women who hate men and believe that men should be discriminated against or something radical to that degree rather than with general female empowerment because ‘it is the norm that men and women should be equal’. The problem with this is that it diminishes passive and latent sexism.

    We are all sexist to varying degrees. Women and men. Misogyny and chauvinism is received through our cultures and the overarching social discourse and in the way we perceive or gender activities and places. Patriarchal structures disempower both men and women. A very simple example I suppose would be social constructs such as women dressing scantily as being a kind of cue for lusty, pervy men. Both men and women of a certain type agree that this encourages men. Feminism in this definition is the active decision to change this thinking into the sort that give women the freedom to dress however they wish to without being fearful for their bodies. Or to stop making jokes that perpetuate these kinds of stereotypes in the social discourse where we find it funny or laudable when boyfriends or husbands cook or do the cleaning etc. To be honest, men really ought to have a similar movement where they should fight for their right to wear skirts and high heels should they bloody well wish to without being subjected to social discrimination or seen as provocative.

    Ultimately, feminism can be individual. Women who are comfortable at home or who put on make up etc are just as much feminists as those who are seen to be feminists the Sheryl Sandbergs (who incidentally rejects the label) and those who are militantly crazy (and to be honest, pretty obnoxious) about it. Foucault -ian as it is, individual policing against received sexism through self-awareness can do as much if not more to fight against biopower than constant social assault.

  • Kirsten

    I study health promotion (focused on the broad determinants of health eg socioeconomic status, education etc) and we’re taught of the principle of equity over equality. That is that there are disadvantaged groups in society that require more resources than others in order for them to have equality. Women, especially in developing nations, are one of these disadvantaged groups. An example of equity over equality is having quotas in workplaces or government on the number of women who have to be employed.
    So yes I do believe in equality of all people however, some groups will need to be given more in order for equality to be achieved.

  • Lisa-Marie Hughes

    This is not difficult – yes, I am a feminist. A pretty strident one at that. Women should not fill only 20% of the top business jobs. Women should be paid equally to men. Women are still essentially considered subordinate in society – largely male governments still make decisions about things like what we do with our wombs just as an example, and many women, instead of being housewives, work forty hours a week AND do all that stuff. I live in a ‘civilised’, western country (Scotland) where women have only been able to vote in the last 100 years, where 30 years ago unmarried mothers were fairly routinely taken into psychiatric hospitals of banished from their families. We’ve made progress, but we have a way to go yet. When we discuss equality, what we mean is equality of pay, equality of choice, equality of opportunity.

  • 0796616

    Go Man Repeller! It always pisses me off when girls are like “oh no i’m not a feminist.” i’m like, oh are you totally cool making 75 cents for every dollar that your boyfriend makes?” TROLLS!

    • Kat

      The worst is when celebrities, many of whom I would consider to be strong role models for girls, say “I don’t consider myself a feminist.” Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and recently Kelly Clarkson all come to mind. Gaga was asked in an interview if she considered herself a feminist after complaining to a reporter that he would never ask men the same questions he was asking her, regarding her provocative lyrics and costumes, she replied with “I’m not a feminist – I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars…”

      This kind of behavior is so damaging because now MILLIONS of people, including young girls, have heard her say that and will forever equate feminism with man-hating. I proudly consider myself a feminist and still wear lipstick, have a boyfriend, enjoy cooking, and work in the fashion industry. Feminism is saying that these qualities, my hobbies and career and aesthetic, are not relevant to my worth as a human being.

  • hunter2117

    but can we all agree that men and women are not the same thing? this question is incomplete if it does not also include cisgendered people and transsexuals. But of course, those labels were omitted because people, even feminists, want to simplify complex things. they do not want to hurt people’s brains zzz what matters most is what we mean by equality because people are never, will never be biologically equal or even mentally equal. equality in the eyes of society? that is something that is realistic and worth striving for. in actuality, equality of that kind is the only way true free market capitalism can work despite the fact that it never does.

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/amatoriaclothing Amatoria Clothing

    I feel that ” I believe in the complete equality of men and women” is a loaded statement. “Complete” is the equivalent of making a statement with the word “always” or “never”. I believe most people will think of certain cases in which they would prefer that men and women are NOT treated equally.
    Just a few weeks ago, we had a discussion about engagement rings, and many women shared that they feel the MAN should be the one to purchase the ring. These women may still consider themselves a feminist. I don’t think you have to agree with the above statement to be a feminist.

  • Caroline

    I’ve just realized that my definition of what defines feminism is one-sided. I am a woman, and I have always gone with that idea that what makes a woman a feminist is whether or not she is doing as she truly pieces, that is, have I tapped into the inner workings of my brain and operated off of those inner workings… But, men can be feminists too…(can’t they?) and I suppose the idea of doing as they truly please does not relate to equality for women. Harumph.

  • Zizou.

    So here’s the thing, I’m a feminist. I openly label myself as such, and have done so from about the age of about four, because even then it sounded fucking awesome and also girls rule, boys drool. And for the longest time I boiled down feminism to “well, you’re a woman, but you don’t want to be treated any differently because you’ve been randomly selected to walk around with a certain set of organs do you?” And sure, in part, that is exactly what feminism is all about. But I’ve recently come to realise that this kind of a definition in fact leads to the misconception that feminism= the fight against sexism, and the reality is that such a definition is effectively a reading down of feminism. “Complete equality of men and women”- what does that mean? Is that across class boundaries? And racial boundaries? I’m a woman of colour, and in the process of applying for law clerkships and internships. Trust me, the fact that I’m a girl is less of an issue than the fact that I’m a brown girl. My experience of the whole clerkship process has been extremely different to that of my white female friends. And it’s the same thing with class as well- my gran was a feminist in the 1970s, but she had zero patience for “all that consciousness raising crap”. She didn’t want to be a working mother, but she didn’t have a choice: food needed paying for, and that meant going out and getting a job. And it bugged her no end when her middle/upper-class female friends could not realise that their vision of the ideal world was remarkably privileged and close-minded. And it’s a similar story now; I have older friends who tell me they “don’t have time” to be feminists, because they’re too busy trying to get through their day to day, with kids and work and partners. The reality is of course, that feminism is all about trying to aid them in that day to day: changing the attitude that women need to be the primary caregivers, providing social institutions like daycare centres and whatnot. But simply saying “all are equal” removes all that I think. And with that I’m ending my gender studies essay.

    • Zizou.

      Ps- thanks so much for re-opening this conversation Leandra! I think it’s precisely by talking about it that we can get a better understanding of feminism- and our individual experiences of feminism.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Hmmm … feminism is one of those concepts I have been filling with my own experience without ever using the term. Something in me is deadly convinced that women are as worthy as men and I have quarrelled, bitched, been refused, bitched about, disliked and many other things (stuff one encounters growing up in a socialist patriarchy :-( ) just because my conviction is so strong. But the word itself has never played a role in that, I don’t know why exactly (maybe because that same damn socialist patriarchy still pretended we’re all equal and I didn’t have a girly but rather a unisex childhood (think dolls AND football)?) I still don’t use the word though I obviously adhere to the same principles (Meaning stuff like: yes, I think I should be a bread winner too and no, my husband doesn’t have to do the dishes because I want to do them (and it’s my fault we don’t have a dishwasher – I needed something manual to do every day). Actually, we don’t even have a list of HIS and HER tasks, we just do stuff according to our daily preferences and general abilities.)
    Unfortunately, there’s still much patriarchy floating around here (democratic this time) and as much as I would love to live in a world of color and gender blindness, I was born too soon for that.
    Well then: yes, I am a fucking feminist, thanks for asking :-)

  • applecard

    Rhetorically, this definition of feminism is only true if one would feel equally comfortable replacing the word “feminist” with the word “masculinist.”

  • Moira

    My grandmother couldn’t vote when she was first married. Couldn’t VOTE because she was a woman in America. Fuck yes, I’m a feminist.

  • cogitate10

    Feminism is not about hating men etc.. Its as simple as believing/ affirming for women to have equal OPPORTUNITIES on everything. and that’s it. Hence Im a feminist.

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