#TellAFeministThankYou Trends on Twitter | What’s in the Meaning of a Word?

Today there has been an interesting Twitter hashtag trending, #tellafeministthankyou. The trend started in the US and then ended up trending worldwide after a few hours. The hashtag started with one person who suggested thanking a feminist in their lives for the rights they enjoy. Of course, as a bleeding heart feminist, this hashtag brought me a ton of warm fuzzies, while also showing me how much we really still need feminism, that misogyny isn’t dead, and most of all, that people completely have no real understanding of what the word actually means (literally) and means (metaphorically) to those of us who hold that word close to our hearts. Here are a few examples:

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Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 4.53.18 PM Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 4.53.29 PMMy heart hurts from these comments (there were hundreds – maybe even thousands) and the lack of respect of so many people, men and women alike, who fought for equality. I wonder if GOPMommy likes the fact that SHE CAN VOTE. Or that she can choose to practice her religion, or that she can have her name on a mortgage, or that she has the right to an education. Or furthermore, that she can make choices about her heathcare and be the BEST GOP MOMMY SHE CAN BE! For someone who is obviously so passionate about politics, she should be thanking the feminist that came before her that gave her a voice.

For everyone out there that thinks being a feminist is about being promiscuous, about abortions, or about man hating, I urge you to seek out information and learn about the first, second, and third waves of feminism. Or talk to a feminist who understands the meaning of the term (it is a literary theory, with an academic discourse). For those of you who think feminism is about being a lesbian, or about false rape accusations, or about thinking women are better than men – I urge you to study some history, theory, or philosophy. The more you know, right?

Being a feminist isn’t about a liberal agenda. It isn’t about sex. It isn’t about disliking men. It isn’t about abortion.

It IS about equality.

It is about equality as much as Martin Luther King Jr. was about equality. It is about human rights. It is about being able to pursue happiness with the same blank slate as everyone else. Feminists did not break up your “American Family Unit” – that is an ideal, not a thing. It is a hegemonized norm that has not been disrupted due to feminists, it has been disrupted because you can not expect a culture so rich and wonderful to fit into one Judea-Christian idea of what “family” means. It is an ideal that banishes families and people. It is an ideal that labels everyone else as “other.”

Feminism is about having a voice, a say, and a choice. It is about understanding gender and how it is constructed and what that means for people who don’t fit into your black and white lines. Furthermore, feminism is about respect. It is about respecting humans for who they are. It is about allowing me to make as much money as my male counterpart. It is about me making choices about my body. It is about me having rights to property, politics, and education. It is about me, and every other human, having the same opportunities as everyone else. And yes, because of this, a true feminist would say that she/he believe is equality of all kinds – race, sexual orientation, religious, etc. And saying we are all equal, means we fight for equal rights. I fight for yours, and you fight for mine.

Saying you are a feminist is saying you are a humanist. By saying I am a feminist, that means I believe in a man’s equality JUST AS MUCH as a woman’s. Being a feminist is the literal opposite of being a man hater. Hating patriarchy is NOT THE SAME as hating men. Hating patriarchy is hating that 22 men voted NO against the Violence Against Women Act today. Not supporting patriarchy is not supporting anyone (through their vote, their speech, or their action) who believe that violence against women – against people – is ok. Today, 22 people did that. They just happened to all be men. And all Republican. Go figure. Not supporting patriarchy is not supporting groups of men which suppress women, or other groupings of people. That may be in politics, in religion, in households, and in many other facets of life. Suppression of any group of people is morally wrong.

Respectable men, real men, call themselves feminists. I believe that anyone who really understood the term would – and should – classify themselves as a feminist. If your definition of feminism seems offensive to you, then my bet is your definition is wrong. If your definition is correct, and you STILL wouldn’t call yourself a feminist, well, then in my opinion, you are perpetuating hate. Plain and simple.

I am a white, educated, straight, female who has never had an abortion, who has never been gay, and who has never hated men. I am a feminist because I am worth just as much as any other human and I have the RIGHT and the BRAIN to make the best choices for my life. If you think you are worth just as much as the person sitting next to you – guess what, you’re a feminist too.



4 replies »

  1. “Saying you are a feminist is saying you are a humanist” – fair enough, I’ll get back to that in a moment. Though your article was a tedious read, I appreciate your taking the time to write it. You spend more time being sarcastic toward certain twitter users and other people who happen to not agree with your views, than you did explaining what the word ‘feminist’ really means… which was the supposed intention of your article; in fact, the title. You confirmed most of what I personally find ‘ugly’ about the 3rd and 4th wave of feminism. Your tone comes across defiant, berating and girlishly shallow… oh and did I mention your undertones of sarcasm? Yes of course I did. So, seriously, if what you say is Truth in that “Saying you are a feminist is saying you are a humanist” – then why not simply call yourself a ‘Humanist’? Wouldn’t that make your life and the lives of all ‘feminists’ a whole lot easier? Or better still, why do you have ‘label yourself’ anything at all? Is your name not suffice? Are we all not simply human beings after all? Do we truly need ‘labels’ to cling to? I’m Jennifer, and I’m neither feminist or otherwise. I stand my ground in my world, whether it be with men or women, in the workplace or socially. I need no ‘excuse’ or ‘explanation’ for being, nor do I need a label to define me. Given that you’re so active in the movement and you have made a very powerful yet highly questionable statement (mentioned in my first sentence), why not make a concerted effort to change the word ‘feminist’ to ‘Humanist’ and I’ll then be a little more satisfied, because ‘feminist’ clearly claims ‘women’s rights’, not ‘all rights’ – until this happens, feminists are only segregating themselves (and all women) and creating problems where they no longer exist.

    • Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. While I feel that your assessment of my blog is based more on your personal beliefs rather than what was actually written (since a sentence or two focused on Twitter responders, and the rest WAS indeed a definition of feminism), I appreciate your questions and respect them far more than the accusatory and demeaning posts that I found on Twitter. Anything that breeds conversation is a good thing in my book. I am going to go ahead and skip over your rude comments and get right to your question: why not just say we are humanist?

      I can’t answer for everyone, but I can tell you why I think it is important that I call myself a “feminist.” First off, it is out of respect, for those who fought and struggled to obtain rights that I enjoy. The history of the word itself demands respect. And, I am not sure what you mean by “wouldn’t it make the lives of all ‘feminists’ easier?” It isn’t about easy. Nothing about standing up for what you feel is right has ever been “easy” for anyone.

      I am glad that you feel like you don’t need to define yourself and that you stand your ground. Everyone goes about their lives in the direction they choose. But this is where we are different. Being a feminist isn’t about just standing MY ground. It is about making ground for everyone. I choose to think about people other than myself. I choose to think about women all around me, who are in different circumstances, with different life experiences. I choose to be a part of a bigger picture, rather than just focusing on myself day to day.

      What I had the biggest issue with in your response is the idea that feminist create problems where they no longer exist. This, I believe, is the most dangerous belief about feminism. That it is no loner needed. Equal pay is still not happening. Politicians are still trying to make decisions for women about their medical and health choices. And people are still trying to take away basic rights that were fought for long ago. The reason we are still feminists is because every day, even in 2013, we continue to fight for basic rights on many levels. Until people stop trying to make our decisions for us, feminism isn’t going anywhere. And I thank my lucky stars everyday that there are other women out there who are willing to fight beside me and for me.

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