What is a Feminist?

It always seemed like such an easy answer to me: a feminist is a person who believes in gender equality.

But apparently, it’s not that simple. I have friends who have told me that they’re not feminists, even though they believe in equal rights. I have friends who have told me they think feminism is ruining men’s regard for women. I know guys who think that only women can be feminists. And of course, the grand debate occurring across the Internet right now: are Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina, or Nikki Haley feminists? What about Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Taylor Swift?

Because I’m SUPER COOL (and actually because I’ve always wanted to do this), I’m going to do a multi-part installment of how other some people (and obviously me because I like to talk) answer this question. I’d like to write several parts; one that includes students and recently graduated students, one that includes adults, and one that primarily focuses on female politicians and celebrities.

So, here’s what I need from YOU: email me at mara.hollander@gmail.com with a few sentences to a few paragraphs (as long or as short as you want it) that answers some or all of these questions:

  • What is feminism?
  • Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
  • Pick a celebrity, politician, or other famous woman. Is she a feminist? Why or why not?

Please include your age (or an age range), gender, and some sort of geographic location or university or something. I won’t identify anyone by name (unless you really want me to).

Remember: you can answer one! or all! of those questions! So even if you read this blog and don’t really feel like writing much, please drop me a word or two. I would really appreciate the help.

And since most of you who read this generally call yourselves “feminists,” I’m going to ask a couple of my non-believing friends for help. Hopefully a few of them will be willing to contribute. This won’t be much of a series unless I can get some people to explain to me why they aren’t feminists.

Thanks for all your help, internet! See you in a few days (hopefully) with my first post.

    • diana turken
    • June 15th, 2010

    a feminist is someone, man or woman, who believes that women should have the same equality, opportunity, respect and legal protections as men. A feminist is free to hold any political belief they want, but they do not feel the need to impose that belief on all women. Feminism is freedom and trust, pure and simple.
    I am a feminist. I am a feminist because I know that women and men should be given equal rights, dignity, and voice. I know that as a feminist, our choices should be dictated by our own morality and not the imposed morality of anti-choice laws. I am a feminist because I trust women. Because I believe that women should be free to dictate the courses of their lives, just as men are privileged to do. I am a feminist because I want control of my own life, and I will not allow any authority over my life choices other than my own conscience.
    Sarah Palin is not a feminist because though she is self reliant and outspoken women, she seeks to control the life choices of all other women in the country and would take away the basic right to choose that real feminists had long fought for. Is lady gaga a feminist? I would say yes. Despite any controversy or pop star impulsiveness, she never tries to restrict the rights of women, she only wants to speak freely and entertain. Her insistence upon right to do that, and her declaration that she is a feminist and still figuring that out, makes her a feminist.

    • Karen S White
    • June 15th, 2010

    Ms. Lurken has provided an excellent explanation of feminism. Surprisingly, I agree with everthing she said. I turned 21 in 1970 and was a feminist before I understood the term. It is all about freedom to be and equality.

    Thanks for asking for our opinions. I seldom respond to these, but I am always teaching my students about freedom and standing tall for whatever you believe in. I am a feminist and my goal is to ensure my daughter, daughter-in-law, my goddaughters, and my granddaughters will be free to be everything they CHOOSE, continue to support women’s rights and equality, and treated with respect for their knowledge.

  1. I’m interested in reading more about your take on feminism.

  2. Hello,

    I’m a French woman -an old one !- and a feminist. Being a retired teacher, I do like to write in English and to watch American series. I just discovered one which was aired in the States on 2001/2004 and I’m trying to do the analysis of the leader couple.About the female one, I was asking myself “Is she a feminist ?

    Yes, she is. Being in her thirties, divorced, learning she is pregnant from her new love, she was not expecting the classical scenario (special ring and so on), but “deep discussion” about that question and others, as adults able to face problems. She said also those moments didn’t need to be “romantic”.
    I liked that because me too, I’m not fond of all the fuss around men on their knees to ask, white ceremony, etc…
    Thanks for that forum,


    • Brianna
    • August 11th, 2011

    im only 16 and i really apriciate everything thats been wrote on this topic. I am a beautiful girl and because of this ,some people look at me and dont think im capable of certain things ,or just using me . Sometimes people do it without even knowing it , and i just go along with it, never really thought about it. ive been inspired to kinda change and be more of a feminist,and stand up for myself my rights .
    Thank You

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