The word "feminist" still raises hackles. Is
claiming this word all about age, race, and class?
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of struggle and remains fraught with controversy.
-The Guerilla Girls
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is captured by this groundbreaking portraitist.
Women: Rosario Robles' Bold Agenda
Serpent Slayer by Katrin Tchana, Illustrated
by Trina Schart Hyman
Goes And Gets Some, Emily Carter
Moon Pearl, Ruthanne Lum McCunn
My Tiara, Susan Jane Gilman
Tattoos, Mira Kamdar
Person: By Any Other Name
-Columns: Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith and Gloria
grew up in Texas. I was a college cheerleader. I was recruited
to compete in beauty pageants. But inside, I felt out
of step. I had no words for these feelings. And then people
started using the word Ms. Suddenly, there was this handle
with which I could identify myself and understand why
I felt so out of whack with the culture around me. The
word, and the concept of feminism, was a gift because
it gave me a sense of identity and a way of defining how
I wished to live my life. It was critical to finding a
way out. I had assumed young women knew the history of
feminism and must have felt gratitude to the movement
for the opportunities that the work we have done has afforded
them. So, when the discussion about not using the term
feminist came up at a conference workshop, I couldn't
believe it. The more I listened, the more I felt the need
to express my passion about my identity as a feminist.
I have never experienced racism in the feminist movement,
so it concerned me to think that I was unable to see the
subject clearly because I came from white, middle-class
privilege. But I thought, no--feminism means "equality
for all women in all things." It's not just a white woman's
word. It's not anybody's word. It is what it is.
stories are different; our pain is the same. The work
that must be done for each woman to reconnect with her
psyche and to give herself a chance to live her own life
is essentially the same. The realization of the equality
of all races, the equality of all beings is essential.
Feminism--the word--can give us a handle, a rallying point,
a common ground, and help us build a bridge. Why not claim
the gift of the word as a place to begin? The pure connecting
factor is that those of us who describe ourselves as feminists
want equal rights for all people. We can't compare stories.
We can only know in our hearts that we are the same. That
may be the best we can do. When there's an opportunity
to do more, we must. If we're for one another, we're feminists.
The rest is semantics.