The "F" Word This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   A few weeks ago, while I was at work stocking shelves, I came across Barbie. Yes, Barbie, that famous doll that has been touted as every little girl's best friend for decades. I myself never liked Barbie. Maybe I was utterly ridiculous, but I was, after all, entitled to my own opinion.

"Stop being such a feminist!'' my co-worker, a female, huffed. I let the comment slide. After all, I wasn't offended by being called a feminist, but the tone with which she pronounced the word implied that I should have been.

Suddenly I remembered another incident a few years before. My mother and I had just watched "Pretty Woman," and we were sitting in the kitchen talking about it. She said that she didn't like that the movie seemed to send the message that a man with money could solve all your problems. She exclaimed, "I'm surprised that I am such a feminist!"

Why should she be? After all, Webster's defines feminism as, "a doctrine advocating social, political, and economic rights for women equal to those of men." Feminism is this basic principle, the principle from which many different women's causes have been launched. Yet today, it seems to be that these certain causes are defining feminism, rather than the basic principle itself.

For instance, mention the word feminism, and one is bound to conjure up the image of a screaming, man-hating, pro-choice woman angry with the world. True, some women don't like men. However, most do. Many women are pro-choice, but just as many can be said to be pro-life. Every woman is different, but if you offered each a share in the same social, political, and economic benefits as their male counterparts, how many would refuse?

Feminism is a basic principle, and with this basic principle comes choices. Staying home to take care of your children, or having a career are both choices of a feminist. I say this, because, after all, let's get one thing straight: feminists do not always agree with each other.

Feminism is like a political party: it is necessary to believe in the basic principles it is founded on, but it is possible to have opinions that differ from that of the group. For example, how many times have we heard the media mix political terms to describe the opinions of political leaders? We constantly hear of candidates described as "conservative Democrat" or "liberal Republican." It is possible to be a feminist and be pro-life. The only reason people seem to think otherwise is because the pro-choicers themselves have chosen to label the issue as a woman's issue, and thus the media assumes that to be a feminist, you must be pro-choice, and in favor of every issue that is vocalized by the more vocal feminist groups.

The point is that too many women today are ashamed to call themselves feminists, mostly due to the pre-conceived notions that have been handed to them by the media. Many shy away from feminism because of the negative stereotypes that have been established. As women, we should keep in mind the basic principles of feminism; the principles that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers thought of when they worked toward suffrage and equality in the work force. So, when someone asks if you, as a female, are a feminist, do not be afraid to reply, "Yes." fl

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Emmalee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 30, 2009 at 11:04 am
I'm glad I see that my thoughts aren't alone. Feminism is in no way directly related to anything society says. Being equal to men doesn't mean we won't shave our legs. :)
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