Yesterday my friend Joe and I were talking politics, as is often the case when we get together, and I said to him I didn’t think I was a full-fledged liberal because I was pretty moderate on some of the bigger issues – one of them being gun control. And he said he thought of me as more of a feminist liberal, which was fine with me…but then I started thinking about it. What did he mean by feminist?

I don’t have a problem being considered a feminist – I’d love to be a more active feminist and research all of the inequalities between men and women in the United States. The problem is in the definition. Feminism often has a negative connotation to wo/men who are not themselves a feminist. It is often equated to being a “man-hater” and nothing more, but being a feminist is much, much deeper than that. So this is why his comment began to eat at me. Do I portray an image of a man-hater just because I write blogs about guys being jerks to me? Men do the same thing when they get dumped or have a bad run-in with a female and not all of them are misogynists, just as feminists don’t hate all men.

I have to admit that I’m not very educated on feminism, which is why I don’t think of myself as a major feminist like some of my best friends. I do, however, have no problem being referred to as a feminist. I believe women should have equal rights, they should be paid the same as their male counterparts and they should most definitely be hired for jobs they are capable of. Women should also not have to worry about going out at night or walking home alone, but it’s not something that’s going to change without a change in cultural thinking in this nation. That’s why feminists fight to take offensive ads off TV and radio and they fight to have women portrayed as human beings rather than objects because as long as wo/men think that women in this society are lesser humans then we will remain in this holding pattern.

Many of you may think me, and people who think like me, are crazy. You’ll say, “Nah, stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore” or “Sexual harrassment is so over.” Try being a woman for just one day or just look at the way your women friends are treated and try to think of it from an objective point of view. Would you want your mother or sister treated that way? I doubt it.

I’ve faced gender discrimination only one time (that I know of) in my life and it was at one of my college jobs. I worked in retail and had been at the same company for nearly four years. I had been promoted several times, yet I found out that a temporary employee who was hired on for Christmas was getting paid more than me and it was because he was a man. I was the only woman who worked in my entire store and I was paid less than everyone, even this guy who had NO retail experience. I left soon after because I was also sexually harrassed by a co-worker. I never filed any reports.

One last thought: When I wrote my Peace Corps blog I thought it was interesting that all of the men brought up disease, war and poor living conditions as possible issues for me going to Africa, but not one brought up the thing that worried me most – rape. But I bet every single woman who read that blog had rape in the front of their minds as one of the biggest things to fear when going to Africa, even those who aren’t well-educated on current events. This is just one example of the difference in thinking between the sexes. Men and women do not have the same fears, not because men are stronger or better or less vulnerable, but because they have been taught that they are. It’s time to change the culture and stop making “feminist” a dirty word.

Any wo/man out there should be proud to be a feminist.

PS Eileen got me a subscription to Bitch Magazine for Christmas and it is SO cool. It’s a great way to start educating yourself on feminist issues and break down the thoughts that feminists are imagining things.