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Feminist Fear

juliah's picture

Lately it seems as though a consciousness raising has been happening regarding preconceived thoughts on certain areas of language and associations. One area in particular has peaked my interest--a general fear of the term "feminist". A recent Jezebel article, to which I have posted the link below, highlights a deeply misplaced rejection of that term by current public figures. "Feminist" has moved from being a word used to describe politically active, socially aware people to one invoking images of angry, man-hating monsters hell-bent on shrieking at any innocent, simply to cause a scene. Society has fueled a negative bias against the term, and it has infected many, impeding on the cause. One of the first times I became aware of such an apprehension was while talking with a close friend from home. Since I met her in middle school, she has always wanted to be a pilot in the air force; currently, she is on the path to doing so. During our discussion, she mentioned that she doesn't consider herself a feminist, because "women are basically equal", and that feminists are "too aggressive" for her. She didn't even realize her ability to peruse her chosen career is entirely due to the feminist movement, let alone the fact that the current military system is still profoundly kyriarchal and, frankly, dangerous for many women/minorities, and that feminist work is necessary to combat such issues. I'm sure there is a better quote out there somewhere, but this brings to mind something said in one of the Harry Potter books: fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. These negative connotations only elicit shame and dread, causing people to distance themselves from it. These implications are also highlighted in a recent web video, which I have also posted a link to, that brought issues surrounding gender and language associations to light. Clearly, the word "feminist" needs to be reclaimed, or the movement will become as feared as the word itself.