The ‘F’ Word

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I’m a Feminist.

Oh no.

Oh, so you’re a man­-eating, man­-hating, ball­-breaking, nut­-crushing, Hilary­-lovin’, muff­-munching, granola­-crunching, ovary-­screaming bitch, right?

Wrong.

Feminism today seems to be stigmatized as a binary battle, you’re either burning your bras at a naked bonfire or you’re June Cleaver with a bratty Beaver. But it doesn’t have to be a bi­polar concept, or a defined concept at all, which is hard to grasp – ­ so let me try and break it down the way I see it.

Straight up Feminism

If I was to put the word feminism in a nice nutshell (that you can later crush with your ball-breaking inner thighs) I would talk about it the way I do in the classroom:

Feminism simply gives a woman the right to make her own choices, which may or may not challenge the roles assigned by society.

So, that means that we have the right to sleep with 2.5 million men or wait ’til we get married. We can choose to have 12 kids, a dog, two hamsters, a weasel and be a stay-at-home mom, or we could be as free as a fiddle. We can also inhabit all the spaces between those dichotomies.

Societal Expectations

If you’re reading Healthy Bitch Daily, than you’re already breaking through certain norms set upon you by society, and you’re developing new norms for women moving up in the same space. For years and years, thousands of outside influences, from education and trash TV to politicians and your grandma, have been making choices for who you’re supposed to be and what you are supposed to look like.

We understand this.

As women in this world, which is verifiably patriarchal, we’re pulled and prodded in one way or another, and as *whisper* feminists, we have every right to alter, reject, maintain, accept, challenge or bitch our way through in order to find ourselves.

So tossing a pint of beer into some guy’s face at a bar after he calls you, openly, without knowing you who are, sweet­tits, doesn’t make you a feminist bitch. No, because by virtue of making your own life choices, you are already a feminist. And he’s just a stupid dick.

(Note: if you haven’t seen Missrepresentation, you’re missing out.)

So even though you’re automatically a feminist in my book, there are women who are standing tall and shouting their feminism from the top of a building. So are they the REAL feminists? No, they’re just louder than others. Most of the time they’re just women shouting for equality and encouraging other women to be beacons of empowerment. Which you can do from a rooftop or from your twitter feed, BTW.

This summer Senator Wendy Davis fillibustered a bill that she felt strongly against. And in the process, millions of women and men rallied in support of her heroic actions. And political pundits on television and in the blogosphere praised her for her bold stance. So she’s a REAL feminist, right!?

No. Just a different kind of feminist.

Wendy Davis, Hillary Clinton, my high school english teacher and I are feminists. We carry our F word loud and proud. We’re not here, however, to dissolution others or to bully men, but to fight for equality and fair treatment – to ensure that our whispering voices are heard among the myriad of monotonous, male mouths. For me, and for other women who like to carry the F word loudly, it isn’t about me vs. you, single girl vs. married mom, or activist vs. run­of­the­mill­trying­to­survivist.

Naw. The F word is about equality, empowerment, justice and discernment; whether you’re loud and proud or just plain proud to be a woman.

What’s your definition of the F word? Let us know in the comments below. 

rsz_564412_10151060002458860_1311319999_nRachelle Linda Escamilla is a big-brained Chicana from California. She lives in Guangzhou, China where she teaches literature and creative writing. Her poetry has received a number of fabulous but not-so-famous awards and prizes. She has a weekly column at The Condor News called Dispatches from China. Read more about Rachelle here.

Image via thisgeekredes

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7 Responses to “The ‘F’ Word”

  1. August 6, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    I was good with you until you went the Wendy Davis route. Ugh, I see nothing about saying kids are unwanted and should be killed something to be heroic. It’s much more heroic to say everyone has value and no matter where you come from girl, us women are here to help you succeed.

  2. August 6, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Love this! Sometimes I worry that my choices aren’t “feminist enough,” but what makes them feminist is that they’re MY choices! It’s good to get a reminder of that every now and then.

  3. August 6, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I love this article! It’s exactly how I feel about modern feminism. As for the person who commented on Wendy Davis: She was standing up for a woman’s right to choose, and general reproductive freedom, which doesn’t automatically imply that “kids are unwanted and should be killed.” Please keep your religion based beliefs to yourself.

  4. August 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Born in the 1940′s I’ve been an ardent “Feminist” since the 60s. I never burned my bras or stopped adoring men. I broke through the norms decades ago. My era never referred to each other as ‘bitches’. Reality TV was not the norm, respect for womanhood was key.

    In my day abortion was illegal. I had friends who were forced to suffer under the hands of back-alley butchers who called themselves doctors.

    I too was an “unwed mother” in the 60′s. I chose to relinquish my two day old baby for adoption. We reunited (joyfully) thirty two years later after I was able to deal with all the emotions that haunted me for years.

    Each of us are different as our our circumstances. What a Feminist IS is a woman who does not judge other women regardless of their personal choices. That is the power behind the very word/movement “Feminist”.

    As you allude to, Feminism simply (not always simple) gives a woman the right to make her own choices, which may or may not challenge the roles assigned by society.

    Society, especially men, their dogma, does not own my body nor will I ever allow it. That said, I’m voting for Senator Davis for Governor of Texas.

  5. August 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Thanks ladies! The Wendy Davis nod isn’t about a political stance, it’s simply an allusion to a sample referring to “traditional” feminism. The mere mentioning of her was to prove a point, not to create a political slant.

    Thanks for reading ladies! This is an important thing to remember – feminism should be something we’re proud of, however we choose to wear our F word!

  6. August 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    I agree with almost all the comments that are made and agree whole heartedly with the post itself.
    The first comment I don’t agree with is the one about Wendy Davis. I don’t know if you watched the filibuster but her argument wasn’t about children being unwanted and killed. If you are anti-choice, then that is fine and I can respect your opinion because we all have them, but please don’t make choosing abortion seem like an easy decision. Especially if you have never faced that choice.
    The other thing that I disagreed with was the 2 different definitions of feminism that were posted here. One said, “Feminism simply gives a woman the right to make her own choices, which may or may not challenge the roles assigned by society.” Personally, and you can disagree with me, I believe that this is only one part of what feminism is. Feminism also fights for the equality of men. It fights for men to be able to make their own choices just as much as it fights for women to be able to do so. Feminism, to me, says that if a man wants to be a stay at home dad or husband then so be it. If he wants to wear make up or a dress or whatever then that is his choice to make. The other definition of feminism came from Joan’s comment “What a Feminist IS is a woman who does not judge other women regardless of their personal choices.” This is also only one part of the story. What a feminist is is a PERSON (male, female, or otherwise) that does not judge other PEOPLE regardless of their personal choices.
    Being a feminist is all about equality and with that being said, it can’t look like we favor women.

  7. August 8, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    I think your last statement is really a good one, “being a feminist is all about equality…it can’t look like we favor women”. I agree. And actually I want to add an addendum to my article by saying that I should have been less hetero-normative.

    I also want to just quickly take a stand on the statement about men’s equality. I have been studying systematic prejudice for years, on many levels, and I will say that although men who choose to be stay at home dads may carry a stigma in our society, I do not see it as an overbearing form of oppression. My husband is a stay-at-home-side-jobs husband and we do face a lot of interesting comments from a number of places, but at no point is my husband’s life derailed or his rights stripped by virtue of just being a man. I think that the idea of “men’s rights” is often misconstrued with “men’s ability to make their choices in peace” because they have choices, a lot of them; they are represented in Congress and over-represented in a number of different places, but women are not nearly as represented and we’re often stripped of choices.

    Men may get ragged on for choosing to be a stay at home dad.

    Women get systematically disenfranchised when they choose to be a stay at home mom.

    For me, that’s the fight.

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