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What is a feminist?


I am always at odds with my partner about this so I was wondering if you know of a resource for information that I could use as I'm not the best with words myself when emotions are involved.

My partner assumes that being a feminist means that I am anti-men.  This is so not true.  He believes that it's sexist and hypocritical to have groups focused at females self esteem alone.

He thinks it's hypocritical if I wear mini-skirts and short-shorts since I don't want women to be objectified.

It's so frustrating and to this day I've been unable to explain to him what it's really about.  I told him that I just want girls to be able to grow up without worrying about what they look like all the time and just to be proud of who they are.  He thinks we do this to ourselves.  Does anyone have any resources that I could direct him to?

I must add that he is a very kind and gentle man, and I never preach feminist ideas, so i'm not really sure why he makes it an issue every time we get in an argument...
Jun 19, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

6 Replies



You might find this site/movement interesting:

Also, you can check out women's groups at universities and schools in your city!

Jun 19, 2012 @ 02:47 pm


Thank You, Alex! :)
Jun 20, 2012 @ 09:33 am


I think it does feminism in general and women as a whole a disservice to define "what is feminism". Like most other philosophies (I'm going to call feminism a philosophy for the moment), there is a spectrum from one extreme to another.

Some feminists ARE anti-men, believe that men have been groomed for centuries - millennia even - to believe they are superior. Sometimes those beliefs are so ingrained that everyone, including women, take them for granted and never question it. These feminists would wonder why we even HAVE to have a debate about whether it's appropriate to breast feed in public, which parent should take parental leave with an infant (i.e. maternity or paternity leave), why we should have affirmative action, and why, even, the word "woman" even includes the patronymic "man" (some feminists spell it "womyn"). For these women, such debates are so beyond irrelevant that they refuse to even engage. OF COURSE it would be okay to breast feed in public - it's no one's business but yours. OF COURSE a father could/should take paternity leave - it should be based on an objective decision of who's career can "afford" to be put on hold. OF COURSE we should not have affirmative action, because womyn do not need to be given any favours - job placement should ALWAYS be merit based.

Then there are feminists who appreciate a patriarchal ("governed by men") society because embracing their femininity means that it's appropriate and IDEAL for a woman to be a full-time mother. It is appropriate and IDEAL for the man to be the "stronger" sex because let's face it - on average, men are stronger and taller than women. It just is! It is appropriate and IDEAL for a married couple to share a last name in order to build family unity, whether you take her name or his. Is it feminist for a man to take his wife's last name instead of vice versa? No, I see that as merely the flip side of the same coin.

There are shared views too, like how to dress or wear makeup. Some women say it's personal expression of taste and has nothing to do with attracting a mate, so therefore it shouldn't matter what we wear. Some say that if we use external attractiveness as a lure, we sell ourselves short because it should be ONLY about personality and compatibility. Others openly acknowledge that peacocking is just part of our base nature, and what's wrong with trying to attract the opposite sex anyway? Most of us women wouldn't want to date a slovenly man either, so why should we assume a man would want to date a woman who doesn't groom?

Polarizing topics like the appropriateness of pornography (shared as a couple, private use, etc) or dressing to extreme boundaries of taste just muddy the water. I think in some cases people/women are trying to prove a point when they champion their opinions on that topic, not that "all things being equal" they would necessarily choose to act that way.

For your partner to make sweeping judgments about feminism is kind of silly. You can be a feminist and adore men, even willingly submit to men in cases you find appropriate. It sounds like he's just misinformed.
Jun 20, 2012 @ 09:56 am

My View

I've had a few guys label me as a "feminist" as well. I don't know much on feminism, having never studied it, but I do know there have been feminist movements and the most well-known one is the whole burning bras and such.

What I tell guys is that yes I would consider myself a feminist but more accurately I believe in equality. That goes for both women and men. Yes, women are often discriminated again for being female and I believe that women should have equal rights and equal opportunities as men. That's all. But I think this also goes the opposite way too now. Sometimes guys are discriminated against (although much less often in my opinion) and they shouldn't be either.

In reply to what people wear, I do believe girls are encouraging people to comment by what you wear (guys and girls alike). People always say not to judge someone by what they're wearing but in reality, that always happens. If it didn't we wouldn't care what we wore and would go to interviews in our PJ's or something.

For example, there girls on internet dating sites have pictures of them in just a bikini or other partially nude pictures and get all mad at guys for commenting on them and saying not to objectify women and all these guys want is sex. Well, maybe you should put up pictures where you're wearing clothes then! Same in public. If you don't want people staring at your breasts, don't wear shirts with such low cut tops. Yes in an ideal world you shouldn't be judged on what you wear, but I think it's naive to think that'll ever happen now.
Jun 20, 2012 @ 01:44 pm

Thanks Ladies

I guess I'll just keep trying to explain it to him.
I do believe the term 'feminist' has a bad reputation when it shouldn't.
I'm very much not a a man-hater and more so a people-lover.
I just hate how whenever I take a stand on something he assumes it's for 'feminist' reasons than just listening to what i'm saying.
I'll keep trying to patiently explain. (patience isn't always easy for me).

When I wear a mini skirt, I usually pair it with a very modest top and boots. And I wear it because It makes me feel fabulous :P It covers all my bits and I have no problem with someone saying I look good. But I still don't think wearing tight pants or a short skirt gives anyone a right to make unwanted derogatory comments... male or female!
Jun 21, 2012 @ 01:37 pm

I am a feminist since I believe in equality

I think its gender equality, not sameness. I am happy to be a woman, but I expect the right to vote, to have my voice heard, to not have to have a man enter into the financial transactions for me (had to do this when I was in Turkey - it is shocking let me say!), to wear what I'd like, to not be unwantedly touched by my boss or any other man, to be assessed on the person I am and not my sex.

I am happy to be a feminist, though some people think we are living in a post-feminist era. Maybe we have forgotten too fast what was hard-won just a generation ago. Hiring on looks was okay. Having your bum pinched by your boss was the norm. Being told you are just a girl, so you don't understand (the world, politics, business etc). Being paid much less for doing the same work was normal.

This was enlightening: http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Feminist-Gloria-Steinem-on-Progress-and-Womens-Rights-Video

There are lots of political aspects that can be called into play on this one... but at the heart of it is this: can I expect the same rights as a man? I love men, admire them, don't want to be one... but in the end I love my equality more.
Jun 22, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

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