21 Oct 03
HED: This is the new Feminism!
By Sybil Priebe
"You are such a feminist!"
Feminism has been getting a bad rap ever since its conception. The actual meaning of the word: "The movement for social, political, and economic equality of men and women" is the true, non-ugly form of feminism that is slowly coming to light now. This new, varied form of feminism is called "Third Wave Feminism." This means less of the extreme ideals, stereotypes, and connotations that we all have been use to accusing feminists of.
To be honest, I didn't know enough about feminism until I attended a Women in Action Conference over at Minnesota State University-Moorhead a handfull of weeks ago with the topic of "The Many Faces of Feminism: Beyond Stereotypes." Until I sat in on one of the panel sessions, I assumed, like many of you, that feminists were "bra-burning men-haters." Well, it's just not so.
These "Third Wavers" believe in a much wider definition of feminism. Their ideals are not the same as the extremists from the 60s and 70s (sometimes called the "Second Wave of Feminism"). In fact, even in the 60s and 70s there were some feminists that looked at other feminists as too extreme. This seems like the same problem that happens in any group- the squeaker wheels get the oil.
As it turns out, Third Wavers can be stay-at-home moms, busy career women, and, yes, even men. This new wave of Feminism has people popping up identifying with it more and more because the one core element of equality. Equality based on sex, race, and sexual orientation. Alongside that, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, at the website Feminist.com, state: "Maybe you aren't sure you need feminism, or you're not sure it needs you. You're sexy, a wallflower, you shop at Calvin Klein, you are a stay-at-home mom, a big Hollywood producer, a beautiful bride [...] or you shave, pluck, and wax. In reality, feminisim wants you to be whoever you are- but with a political consciousness. And, vice versa. You want to be a feminist because you want to be exactly who you are." Feminism, the non-extreme kind of today, really does mean what is written in the dictionary.
So, maybe the next time you hear that word, it won't have the same ugly stigma attached to it. If you are a female and want to do anything and everything in your life without being oppressed (take constuction management classes, smoke a cigar, burp, travel alone), you are a feminist! And, heck, if you are a male that believes in equal rights for women (let them buy dinner once in awhile, etc) and minorities, you are a feminist too! Don't be afraid of the title!
Lastly, all feminism asks of you is that if you do decide on living a more traditional lifestyle that doing so is YOUR choice. If you want to stay at home, take care of your kids, and cook dinner every night- that's fine, but make sure that that is your choice. In the same respect, you shouldn't feel bad if your choice is to have a career with a nanny at home either (or no kids at all). Feminism is what will back up your decision to live any life you choose.