A Letter From a Fellow F-word

“Hi Catherine,

My name is Alex and I am a Communications Manager at Barnard College. I am reaching out to you today with an idea for your blog. Being perfect and powerful, being a feminist: these are among the most popular topics of conversation among today’s young women. Barnard College’s new podcast series, Dare to Use the F-Word, tells the story of today’s feminists through the ideas, art, and activism that define them. Barnard President Debora Spar, in her new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power & the Quest for Perfection, explains that while most women today struggle with the idea of perfection, they also struggle with the concept of feminism itself. Are the two connected? Read President Spar’s thoughts in this exclusive post.

As a communications manager at Barnard, I want to continue these important conversations among feminist thought-leaders like you.  I ask you to republish and share this post on your blog. Pose these questions to your audience; they may dare others to join us and use the f-word.

Kindly,

Alex”

I encourage you to read President Spar’s riveting article. Please continue to write to me!

Coming Out of the Feminist Closet

Someone very close to me is still unaware of my ever-present and ever-growing feminism. This person is my sister. I am hesitant to inform her about this part of my life because she tends to be judgmental and because of various things she has said in the past. About a year ago, her and her husband were talking and said something to this effect: “Feminists are butch lesbians who hate men.” At the time, my only reaction was to roll my eyes and feel somewhat shitty inside, but now I feel disgusted and slightly hurt that someone I love would make such an ignorant comment. Lesbians can be butch, lesbians can be feminists, and lesbians can be butch feminists, but they do not make up the entire demographic of feminists. Feminists consist of men, women, heteros, homos, bisexuals, transgenders, Christians, atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, republicans, democrats, libertarians, independents, femmes, butches, you name it. So, obviously not all feminists are butch lesbians. This is because people have the ability to think for themselves and decide what they want to believe and agree with. Each and every human being is an individual, who can use his or her own judgment to determine who they are and what they want out of life.  My other new reaction to this ignorant comment is: Then what the hell am I? I am not a lesbian, or a butch lesbian, yet I’m a feminist. Oh, and I also don’t hate men. So it would seem that we now have a debacle on our hands since I am now the ultimate exception to the feminist rule. A predominantly straight, biological female, who doesn’t hate men can be a feminist? What? I know. I am astonished as well.

All sarcasm aside, the fact that her and so many other people think feminists are part of the “she-woman man-haters club” shows how seriously misinformed and ignorant the world is. Feminism is about achieving equality for both women and men because we are equals, regardless of our inherent, biological differences. Those differences are insignificant and matter not. The goal of the feminist movement is to rid the world of misogyny and misandry and to eliminate gender stereotypes and gender specific insults, so that one day a girl will not be given grief over her desire to join the school football team, and a guy will be allowed to cry and feel emotion in public without being called a girl, because, in reality, that is not an insult. In reality, we are all human. We were all created equally. Different doesn’t equate to less.

So, Sister, I am stepping out of the feminist closet to show you who I truly am. I do not expect you to agree with me on every issue. We both have very different beliefs politically, socially, religiously, academically, but in the end, none of those differences matter. I have looked up to you for so long. For so long, I wanted to be you, but now it is time for me to become my own person. I am who I am, and I am proud to be me. And I hope you are proud to be my sister. I love you, and I can’t wait to see you on Thursday.

Love,

Catherine