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Feminism: The Real F-Word

July 31, 2012

Marissa Mayer, a top executive from Google, became CEO of Yahoo Inc. on July 16, 2012.  Her feat stood as a substantial accomplishment for women in the technology and engineering field made up primarily of men.  Then, she announced she was pregnant.  Everyone was eager to slap the future working-mom story with a trailblazing-feminist tag and find her a place next to Margaret Thatcher.

Shortly after, a quotation surfaced in which Mayer distanced herself from the feminist movement.

I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don’t, I think have, sort of, the militant drive and the sort of, the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word. You know, there are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there is more good that comes out of positive energy around that than comes out of negative energy.

While Mayer’s statement hasn’t stopped many from admiring her success or invalidated her as a positive image for women in business and technology, some of us cringed a little.  She believes in the things at the core of feminism while viewing the label as negative.  “What’s the harm there?” You may ask.  So many girls take this kind of moderate stance on gender equality.  I will admit that it wasn’t until recently when I took the plunge and started considering myself a feminist.  It’s scary to tie yourself to a word that often refers to anger.

But here’s a thought: Why not be the feminist we want to see in the world?

Things only become negative when we make them negative.  If we want to be negative, angry feminists the choice is ours– Or we can be feminists and be positive.

This fight against militaristic feminism is not the fight we should be having because it’s simply not representative of the majority of the movement today.  Look around, read the blogs, and talk to girls and women studying these topics.  You will find that feminism is a movement that aims more than ever to use inclusiveness to achieve gender equality not gender overhaul.

Now this movement, like every other in history, has some radical pockets here and there.  There will naturally be some people who believe variations or degrees of the movements goals.  Still, nothing will keep young girls farther away from learning about gender studies than a high powered woman severing herself from the broadest, nearly stereotypical, definition of feminism.  Despite it’s imperfections, there’s something to be said for having a word to unite everybody who is working toward the same thing together or else people won’t know that they are not alone in their fight.

That is why this project aims to hold true to feminist beliefs while discussing the complexities (aka struggles) that often come up among sensitive or unique situations.  Coming down on one side of an issue can sometimes get sticky and even nearly impossible, and many many feminist know this.  That doesn’t mean we won’t try.

You do not need a pitchfork to be a feminist, just a passion for a better, more equal world.

Peace and Love

-M

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