Location: New York City
How do you define feminism?
I believe that feminism is the idea that women should enjoy equal opportunities (and actually be able to take full advantage of them) to men. This is not to say that we should be treated the same. Women and men are biologically different. For example, until men start bearing children, laws and regulation regarding childbirth (like maternity leave, though I agree with the French that paternity leave is also a good idea!) will apply mostly to women, as they play a different biological role in society.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
It was not until my senior year of college that I fully embraced the term “feminist”. Like many young people these days, the word had a negative connotation for me and evoked images of women burning bras and bashing men. That year was the first time I had taken classes focused on gender issues and was forced for the first time to learn about feminism’s beginning, present, and future. One day, I was talking to my dad and he referred to himself as a feminist. It caught me off guard. I thought to myself, “Why is it that my dad calls himself a feminist but I, a woman, feel uncomfortable doing so?” That was the first time I realized that I had to be brave and make an effort to reappropriate the word so that my generation of young women can embrace it.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
Not only have my definition and connotations of the term changed over time, but, perhaps most importantly, on a personal level I now feel comfortable (and proud) using the term to be one of the many terms that I use to define my identity.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
It is hard to pinpoint exactly why the word feminist can’t seem to shake the negative connotation that makes so many young men and women hesitant to call themselves feminists. Perhaps it is one of the enduring results of the campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment and efforts to curtail women’s rights. This is something I think our society needs to openly discuss. And this must be an inter-generational conversation.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
I often hear women today talking about reclaiming feminism, but rebranding it, or even giving it another name. I am not sure how I feel about this. Using a new term will not correct people’s misconceptions about the word feminist. But perhaps using the word “feminist” is less important than people today being able to unite for gender equality, regardless of what they call it.
Hannah writes and works in publishing in part because she hopes to have the opportunity amplify the voices of women everywhere. She blogs about women’s issues and being a young person in the workplace for ForbesWoman. You will make her day if you follow her on Twitter because has an unhealthy obsession with social media.
If you would like to participate in this series, please contact me for more details!