The F-Word

By The Beacon | March 23, 2016 4:31pm
Photo courtesy of Mariah Wildgen.

by Mariah Wildgen |

No, I’m not talking about the four-letter word.

I’m talking about feminism.

Unfortunately, though, some regard feminism with the same disdain grandmas everywhere have when they hear their grandchild say f*** for the first time.

Last week I stumbled upon a blog post in The Odyssey titled “I Am Not A Feminist, And That Is Okay.” The author, pictured smiling while baking cookies and flanked by women who are presumably close relatives, addresses right off the bat that while she understands the definition of feminism, she still doesn’t identify with it.

The author goes on to say how she supports causes like equal pay, but rebukes “fourth-wave feminism” that questions why women are considered more domestic or nurturing. She resents being told what to think or how to act.

I agree. I don’t like being told by others what it means to be a woman. But that is exactly the point of feminism.

As Beyoncé taught us in her brilliant and self-titled album, a feminist is “someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

Of course equality covers employment, wages, and other critical issues, but it’s broader than that. When you believe in gender equality, that opens the door to the way in which we define gender.

People look down upon the female CEO because she’s perceived as cold, calculating and bossy. Others look down upon the homemaker because they believe she’s submitting to her husband’s will. True feminists look down on neither. They support females no matter how each individual chooses to perform the role of woman.

This philosophy means that the nurturing nature and femininity that the blogger mentions are not only acceptable by feminist standards, they are to be celebrated.  Feminism and femininity are in no way incompatible.

Recently, actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy talked about the issue of feminism and people, like the author, who may hold incorrect definitions of the word.

Regarding women who don’t consider themselves feminists, McCarthy said, “I always think, ‘Oh, that sounds so dumb.’ And I don’t mean that in a hateful way. It just sounds so ill-informed. Do you think women should be paid less? You don’t believe in equality for women? I think people have worked hard to put a negative spin on the word.”

McCarthy puts it best. Many people who don’t identify as feminists are truly ill-informed on what feminism means.  This misinformation is connected to the negative spin that feminism has encountered for decades.

Feminism expands opportunity for all types of people, women and men alike, allowing individuals to choose who they want to be regardless of gender.  Women should be encouraged to be professional athletes as much as men are. Men should be encouraged to become a kindergarten teachers as much woman are. Gender norms confine everyone, and feminism sets out to break the barriers for all.

So let’s stop making feminism such a dirty word. Mariah Wildgen is a senior political science major. She can be reached at