Reclaim the Name

The quiet girl who didn’t speak, didn’t raise her hand in class, walked with her head tilted down–one day that girl found her voice. And she started yelling. She wasn’t mad, no matter the definition you may have, she just wanted to be heard. On that day, I, Natalie Hart, age 14, claimed my name. I was a feminist, and proud of it.

However, not everyone was as proud as I was to belong to this group of warrior women. A new generation of women had emerged who talked about feminism as being outdated, a vintage/retro proclamation that no longer applied to them. I wasn’t aware that equality and social justice had expiration dates like milk.

During a Social Justice Day event at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., I was required to submitted a project for my Feminism and Social Action class. Here was my chance to proclaim. I chose the topic Reclaim the Name, taking the apologetic concept “I’m not a feminist but…” and turning it into the declaration “I am a feminist because…” The idea was to remove any damning myths associated with the feminist movement by coming out, loud and proud, about the reality of what being a feminist really means. In that way we can recognize our shared ‘herstory’ and remember that only the day we stop listening and learning is the day the movement truly dies.

In an attempt to reach a wider variety of people I created with the help of my sister a Facebook page asking other women to complete the same sentence: “I am a feminist because …” In this forum I can keep the commentary going, extending it beyond the reach of Social Justice Day and the walls of the Sierra College campus. Here are some of the responses:

I am a Feminist because I believe in Equality, Compassion and Tolerance.

I am a feminist because once you understand male privilege how can you not [be].

I’m a feminist because….of so many reasons!! Because I am a woman, because I am a mom, because I believe in equality, because I FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!

The author of that last line, my professor Megan Seely, encouraged me to spread the wings of the Reclaim the Name campaign and ask for help from the world of feminist publications to spread the word that we will no longer hide from our feminist truth.

So I am reclaiming the name of feminism for me, for you, for a future generation that will follow our footsteps, as we follow those who marched before us. I ask that you join me in the campaign to Reclaim the Name, to stand up and declare “I am a Feminist because…”

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

Poster designed by Natalie Hart.

Comments

  1. Natalie, this is a fabulous idea. I live one town over from Rocklin (in Roseville) and I'm proud to see that feminism is alive and well in our neck of the woods! My reason for being a feminist is best expressed in a bumper sticker (!!) I used to have on my car: feminism is the radical notion that women are people. I am a feminist because I believe that all women deserve to have a voice, be free from violence directed at our gender, be able to pursue any opportunity a man could, and be treated and paid fairly, and because I believe that society at large and men too benefit from the full and equal participation of women.

  2. "I wasn’t aware that equality and social justice had expiration dates like milk."

    Great line, well said.
    As the quote in your article points out, I don't believe most people understand the extent of the problem:
    "I am a feminist because once you understand male privilege how can you not [be]."

  3. I am a feminist because I believe in a better world for EVERYONE!

  4. I wish to God that people like you would stop being so self-centered and realize that not only are things now equal between sexes, but women now have a striking oppressive power over the men they claim to be dominated by. Please stop perpetrating the idea that feminists are out for equality.
    Examples?
    1. Minority run businesses: As a small business owner I often get passed up for government jobs because of laws requiring a certain number of jobs to go to women or minority businesses.
    2. Jobs: Companies of a certain size need a percentage of women. Better qualified men often get passed over for women, to meet these requirements.
    3. Alimony: Men can't continually take a cut of their ex-wife's salary when they get divorced.
    4. Child support: Men can't stop working and collect money for watching the kids.
    5. Child custody: Men can barely get to see their kids after a divorce, even if they are paying to support those same children.
    6. Abortion: Men can't decide to have your baby killed without consulting you about it.
    7. Scholarships: Men can't create scholarships only for other men.
    8. Health-care: In the US about 8 times as much government money is spent on women compared to men.
    9. Police: Men can't call the police on women for domestic disputes.
    I think you get the idea, please stop making my life more difficult.

    - A man

    • Oh, honey. You need to step back, read up on male privilege, and recognize that you have no idea what you're talking about.

      • well said thanks so much!

      • An Informed Male says:

        I agree with both of you, but you are both still somewhat wrong. 'A Man' has pointed out key ideas showing the general public opinion on males and his reasons are true and do conflict man, but he has also missed some ideas that tie his to the discussion.

        Meanwhile, 'Lynzie', was right in telling A Man to step back and look, But I believe her to be wrong to say that he has "no idea what [he's] talking about."

        Because of her post I decided to briefly look up some information on "male privilege" and have found the major argument (in the U.S.) is the wage gap between genders. And although it is unjust and should never happen in today's age, it is relatively minor as what is happening in other countries (e.g. Sex Trafficking and the Dowry to name a few).

        On the other side of the coin (those against the notion of 'male privileges'), cite surveys that say it is because of public opinion that white males are paid more because customers feel more comfortable with them. Men's Rights activist, Herb Goldberg, says it is a myth men are more favored because when concerning Longevity, alcoholism, Disease, suicide, rapist (yes, men are raped too), and drug addiction men receive the short side of the stick being labeled as the 'bad eggs' whereas women receive more compassion in these areas for simply being a women. Warren Farrell’s book "The Myth of Male Power" talks about social rules pertaining to 'women and children first' and 'conscription' that showcase men as the "disposable sex".

        To end, I agree that women should continue to fight for their rights, but don't drag men down in the process. And please realize that there are always to sides to be heard in every discussion.

        *all information has come from these sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_privilege http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/1http://www.menstuff.org/pov/povs/malepriv.html

    • LOOK at the statement its says RECLAIM the name. It's time for ignorant people not just men but people who have no idea what they are talking about to set back and get educated. You for one are completely ignorant on what this whole idea is about and your facts are wrong.
      #1 and #2 as you put it – Governmental policy and law prohibits quotas and numerical straight jackets on Affirmative Action policy. 2008 governmental agencies ran an investigation and found no hint of evidence that these prohibited practices took place. Affirmative Action plans which were implimented in the late 60's required government contractors to develop goals for increasing the representation of historically disadvantaged groups. However, one constant throughout these plans is that the minority i.e. based on race or gender, the applicant being hired must be EQUALLY qualified for the position being offered.The definition for equality according to Websters is the quality or state of being equal with that being said for this to take place the principle is that if we have two people who are of equally qualified, we should choose the person from the unrepresented group thus creating equality. Sorry if this upsets you but overall it's effects have demonstrated that it is working to a degree. Women and minorities still are payed less in the work arena.
      #3 Historically it was men who were ordered to pay alimony. That was then this is now. Women have entered the work force in larger numbers, divorce has shifted and family laws regarding marital support were made gender neutral!!
      #4 Yes they can. Stay at home fathers who are the primary care giver can receive child support. This is law in all 50 states. And further more it is the hardest and most meaningful full time job anyone can ever do.
      #5 This is decided by a family court judge. Visitation rights and dual custody can be divided equally if both parties are responsible parents. Child support is based on who is the primary bread winner and with women making approx 77 cents to your dollar, he usually does foot the bill.
      #6 It's our body, our decision, our health get over it.
      #7 Your misinformed once again – The most common men only scholarships come form men athletics but The American Assembly for Nursing Men is an excellent scholarship program open only to males desiring a nursing degree. The Franklin Scholarship is given to only freshmen men entering Virginia Tech University every fall along with many others.
      #8 U.S. Health Org survey 2009 states that over a third of American men have not had a medical check up last year while 9 million men have not seen a doctor in 5 years even though they are fully covered by health insurance and the same amount of money is set aside for health issues for men and women equally.
      45% of men are overweight – 17% obese, 28% still smoke even though there are ads directed at them of the harm done to their bodies, i.e. sexual libido, impotence, cancer…. 41% of male deaths under the age of 75 are caused by circulatory disease and finally 31% of male deaths occur under the age of 75 are caused by cancer – each year 124,000 new cases are diagnosed and 80,000 will die from lack of early diagnosis. Stop bitching and go to the doctor.
      #9 1998 Lionel Richie's wife Brenda Harvey was arrested for spousal abuse. Tanya Harding Olympic skater pleaded not guilty to charges of battery against her boyfriend at the time, Carmen Electra was arrested and booked for battery against Dennis Rodman who outweighed her two fold!! 2003 Christan Slater called 911 to report battery and his wife was arrested and booked in a LA county jail.
      So as the lady before me said Oh honey you really really need to step back and read up and get informed because your certainly not even half way there.

  5. Great article, Great poster design. Where can I get a T shirt??

  6. Serena Freewomyn says:

    LOVE the design, and LOVE the idea.

    I am a feminist because I am alive.

  7. Carol King says:

    I'm with you totally on this. We have to reclaim it! Thanks.

  8. I am a feminist because I am bombarded with sexist, misogynist images in advertisements, television shows, movies and cable news everywhere I look. I am a feminist because an alarming number of politicians running in this year's midterm elections wanted to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. I am a feminist because women still make 77 cents to a man's dollar. I am a feminist because a woman in the armed forces is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than be killed by the enemy. I am a feminist because no woman should be told what to do with her own body. I am a feminist because so many women have struggled to get us this far, but there is still more to do. We won't go back!

  9. I am a feminist because A man is sad he has to play on a level field. Obviously the whole concept of male privilege is lost on him.

  10. I am a feminist because I believe in the right to choose what to do with our lives. Feminism is empowerment, and having the power to control my fate is the ultimate power.

  11. suburbanfeminist says:

    There is a feminism and social activism class at Sierra College? That is awesome. I don't think that was there when I went there.

  12. im a feminist of color!

  13. I'm a feminist because that word of feminism and equality for women should not just be in the USA, but should extend around the world, to the women of every country, race and culture. We need to help save our sisters around the world!

  14. I am feminist because I can see the inequalities that are invisible to others. It is my intention to promote equality by living and communicating life to the fullest, so that we may all live justly together.

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