Recently, I attended a conference where the question of whether you considered yourself a feminist was posed to a panel of business women. There was a clear generational divide in that the younger panelists, equally accomplished in their own right, did not identify with the term feminist, whereas the older ones did. Why? A feminist is defined after all as someone who supports the rights and equality of women. What woman wouldn't want to identify with this? It turns out, many don't. In fact, the #WomenAgainstFeminism went viral last summer, with women posting pictures of themselves with signs declaring "I'm not a feminist because..." The reasons they pointed to included:
- I don't want to be a victim
- I'm not oppressed
- Modern feminism is sexist
- I dress feminine
- I don't want to be superior to men
- It destroys families
The statistics regarding the wage gap have been well documented. Yet feminism does not resinate with this modern day reality but some outdated view of bra-burning, pant-suit dressing, men-hating extremists. Sarah Silverman caused backlash with "The Great Schlep" viral video where she proposed that her solution to closing the wage gap is to get a sex change.
Regardless of what you think of the video, it is meant to shake us out of complacency on an issue that has become background noise every time the latest statistics come out. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella recently remarked that "its not about asking for a raise," women should have "faith in the system" and count on "good karma." In other words, just be good girls and play nice, the wage gap will close eventually.
Somewhere along the way, we lost track of what the feminist movement stands for and what it doesn't. At a very early age, the patriarchal elements of my culture had an impact on me. I remember visiting my grandparents and remarking the distinct difference in how they welcomed the only male grandchild versus the female grandchildren.
He would be the one to carry on the family name and our lineage. It wasn't that I believed that we were loved less but he was valued more. The messages are latent but permeate your very identify. Needless to say, this is one reason that keeping my name was important to me. In a small way, it is a source of my personal identify and an affirmation of value. These earliest of experiences shaped my commitment to support women in discovering all the possibilities that are available to them, pursuing their purpose, finding their passion and reaching their potential. I am a feminist.
Just this week, a prominent feminist media critic, Anita Sarkeesian, cancelled a speaking engagement at the University of Utah to talk about the portrayal of women in video games, under threat of a "Montreal Massacre style attack." Really ladies...are we out of the woods yet?
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