Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Feminism: The New F Word


I’ve been hearing there’s a new F word out there, and coming from rural Manitoba Canada, I thought maybe it was frost or freezing or frozen. I thought it was that little four-letter word my mom won’t say out loud. But no, feminism is the new F word.


So what does that forbidden term mean to me? It means a whole lot more F words.

It means follow,

As a teenager, feminism was called Women’s Liberation. There was much eye-rolling and many sarcastic comments about those bra-burning women’s libbers. Why didn’t they just stay home and take care of their families? Follow the natural order of things. Look pretty and shut up. I wrote a paper for school. The teacher failed me. He said I didn’t know what I was talking about when I presented my views on choice. I guess he didn’t know that my peers had already experienced pregnancies, miscarriages, abortions and adoptions. Our fears forced us into silence.

It can be futile,

The futility of the fight seemed overwhelming. We had to stage a sit-in at the principal’s office in order to gain permission to wear pants and jeans to school. Girls were supposed to wear dresses. I guess we had to look feminine. The big companies still push this on us. “You’re beautiful just the way you are”…but buy our deodorant so your under-arms are soft. Really?

It’s also fear

The fear of labels. A frigid bitch if you don’t want sex and a slut if you do. Catcalls when you’re young and silence when you’re old. Rape and assault tucked firmly into our minds as a constant threat no matter what we look like. And somehow, it will be our fault.

But the word can be fair.

What is fair? Equal pay for equal work. Safe spaces for all. Choices and opportunities and acceptance for everyone.

It’s freedom.

Now there’s an F word that works. Freedom is the word that means feminism to me. It’s a good F word. I think my mom would approve.


© Conni Cartlidge
February 2016

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