The Motley News

The "F" Word

4 Comments

As I work on this month and next, revolting and raising hell, I’m getting nervous about how I will lead an effective hell raising. I’ll tell you why I’m nervous. This month, I’m devoted to researching Women’s Rights and next month, I’ll be revolting in the name of said rights. Obviously, Women’s Right are closely tied in with a nasty F-word that no women wishes to utter:

FEMINISM
Whew! That wasn’t too hard was it? For some of us women (and men, I suppose) to be identified as a feminist is too much. Like communism, feminism seems to have gasped it’s last dying breath. But has it? I once asked my little sister who was 17 at the time but very mature for her age, if she was a feminist.
She said that she was not. Part of me wasn’t surprised, while the other part of me was hugely disappointed. I realize she has her own mind, but I thought a lot of my tastes and politics were rubbing off on her. Surely, just by default she would have the same outrage as I. I neglected to consider the other variables that caused her to be otherwise indifferent.
  • Age. There is a 7 year difference between the two of us. Nearly a generation, if you think about it. With her being younger, she wasn’t faced with the same gender related struggles I was faced with.
  • High School. She was in high school which hosts a whole other set of problems. On her plate, she dealt with finding her place as an adolescent amongst knuckleheads, nerds, and popular kids. The world’s injustices were not in the forefront of her mind.

And there could be other, less obvious reasons that mold a 17 year-old girl’s psyche. But I wanted to press the issue further. “Do you think women should get paid the same wage/salary as man?” I asked her.
“Of course.”
“Well you know that we don’t, right? You know that a woman will earn two thirds of what a man earns while being in the same occupation.”
She frowned. “I guess I knew that.” She shrugged and refused to explain the logic behind this.

She is not very different from women around the world who don’t feel like being a feminist. 
My challenge to you: If you believe in the following points. . . 
  • A woman should have authority over her own body when it comes to health and reproductive issues.
  • A woman should be paid the same dollar amount as a man when doing the same job.
  • A woman shouldn’t be physically/emotionally abused in her own home (or anywhere else for that matter) at the hands of a lover/boyfriend/husband. 
  • A woman should wear what she feels comfortable in without fear of being raped.
  • A woman can be a lesbian without getting hassled for it.
  • A woman shouldn’t be sold into sex slavery.
Then I’m sorry to have to break it to you:   
YOU’RE A FEMINIST!
It’s not as bad as you think it is. At least it’s not an incurable disease. People like Rush Limbaugh, who routinely calls free-thinking women “FemiNazis,” are what makes you afraid to come out and claim your own empowerment. Being called a “loud mouth bitch,” can be scary. But you can rise above it. Just ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She’s been called a “loud mouth bitch” many a time, but I don’t think that’s stopped her from being a bad-ass politician.
Go on and try saying it: “I’m a feminist.”  It’s not at all painful. When we take a word and make it our own, we take back the power associated with it. One day feminist won’t mean femiNazi and we’ll see some real changes in the world. Until then, it will take work. It’s not going to be easy wrestling that power from people like Rush Limbaugh. These are the people who stand to benefit from our indifference and fear. They are hoping that you continue believing the status-quo and the ideology that stands behind it. 
When we question with force, “Why are things this way?” and don’t accept the bogus answer of: “It’s just the way it’s always been,” we’re ready for change.
Remember, not too long ago, blacks asked: “Why am I getting attacked by police dogs and getting hosed in the street?”
The answer was the same: “It’s just the way it’s always been.”
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Author: Charish Halliburton

Writer and Editor for The Motley News

4 thoughts on “The "F" Word

  1. Quite eye-opening, Charish. The specs/categories you mentioned have never been laid out quite like that for me. I do hold all those things dear. Those and more. But, to be honest, women do give themselves a bad name when it comes to standing up for those said same values. It has alot to do with the approach, I find. Why do some feminists always have to come across as aggressive, bad-tempered, maladjusted? Why can't their approach be different? Does agitation have to lead to a worsening of the situation? This is what hurts me most when all along we have the same concerns. Status quo? Nothing to me. Ideologies I agree must be changed. They have to for the daughters who will come up after us. It starts in the home. The ideologies are to be planted from the home and modeled for them to see; so the Rush Limbaughs of their generations are but mere, little insignificant voices. But once again, it comes down to how it is done. I don't believe in creating monsters in our homes and unleashing them into our societies in the form of female Limbaughs, however. What good would that have done? Do you understand what I am trying to say here?

    Your final point is also interesting. Now, young people are being killed indiscriminately by the law in the form of a)humans wearing the badge and uniform, as well as by b)the actual legislation/laws of our countries. They are also being murdered when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time whether because of class, colour or what have you. So it might not be hoses anymore. Just like how it will not always be asking a colleague to not approach me and whisper suggestive things under his breathe.

    We as human beings, specifically as women, carry such a load. Specifically for myself, I am more than a feminist (using your specs above). I will seek to lend an ear to/voice to anyone regardless of gender who has been abused, beaten, hurt, harmed, violated, unfairly and maliciously mistreated, discriminated against.

    There is something more important to me:
    It is BEING/showing HUMANity.

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  2. You're right, Tasha, approach definitely has a lot to do with how feminism is treated. There is a new wave, for sure, and I like how these 3rd wavers, include women of color and working class women. There's also a global aspect to 3rd wave that I can get on board with. But yes, the aggressiveness in some can make a whole group a little less attractive. Believe me, there are definitely women who value those things listed above, who live in healthy relationships with men and who aren't burning bras.

    Again, you're right, humanity at large is what's important. I just believe when you address the wrong-doings of 50% of the population, you might get somewhere. That includes race and classism.

    Thank you, Tasha, for your close reading of our work! You're always spot on in your criticisms and we value what you say as a fellow writer.

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  3. Thank you. I love how you ladies make me think. The issues you present here might not be as serious or as glaringly obvious in Barbados as they are in the US. The posts engage me. That is important for me. See, I have a daughter [yes, she is only 3 :)]and I wish for her to know where she stands on the points you listed above. I really wish her to be like me in knowing when to stand up to anyone who seeks to take away her right to choose, to be free, to treated fairly and as an equal human being. As parents, we want what's best for her. All parents need to teach our girls how to speak up when something is wrong. And that there is nothing wrong with being vocal. But know how to be tactful and take the right approaches. Never to cower to someone cos of their superior physical or mental strength. Honestly, we have so many cycles to break. But we can do it! We have to try! This is a touchy thing for me cos I am a teacher. With my older students sometimes I have to stop and 'talk' with/to especially the girls about points 1 and 3. I see too many boys and girls who don't have someone to encourage them. Girls who are going down the wrong path. Girls who don't and will not approach their mothers out of fear that she will not understand. Sometimes all they need is someone to say, “I care!”, “I want you to do well!” Our girls need to see women who try to do positive things; who even if they falter, will get up and go again. Our girls will respect us for our determination.

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  4. You write such great pieces! Thank you for keeping our blog going! I plan to make a comeback this summer:) There's a lot I'd like to write about, unfortunately not much about hair though…

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