Sarah Gandy: When did feminism become a dirty word?

Publish Date
Tuesday, 27 February 2018, 11:00AM
Photo / Babiche Martens

Photo / Babiche Martens

For years the "F" word, feminism, has been just that - a word synonymous with:

• Man haters
• Birkenstock wearers 
• Bra burners
• People with short haircuts, clenched fists and bad tempers 
• Single women who aren't desperate to find "Mr Right"
• Or pretty much every lesbian

But at its core, it doesn't matter what shoes you wear, what haircut you have, or if you even own a bra. Hell, it doesn't even matter if you're a woman. Feminism is about choice.

It's about our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern choosing to have a baby while keeping her very important job. It's about accepting that she is smart enough to know what that means and that her decision is an informed one.

It's about Jennifer Lawrence choosing to wear her sexy-as-hell dress for a photo outside in freezing temperatures while her male counterparts are rugged up in coats because "damn that is one incredible dress" and who would want to cover that up? That was her choice.

If you don't like it, whinging about it "on her behalf" makes you anything but a feminist. It does, however, give them a bad reputation.

It's not about putting women over men, or men over women. It's about saying we are equal as human beings.

The Time's Up #MeToo movement is prevalent and important. It's opened up a very big can filled with far more worms than many could have anticipated.

For some, it seems extreme; like things are getting out of hand and that men, in particular, are being crucified. Feminazis on a rampage.

But perhaps it's simpler than that. For so many years, the pendulum has swung so significantly one way that it's going to swing a little harder the other way before we find a happy balance.

Is there any parent who would be okay with their child having less opportunity because of their gender? Of course not.

And that, in its essence, is what feminism is about. It's about choice and equality. Not man-hating. Not excluding one sex in favour of another. It's about balance.

Maybe the biggest issue is the word? Feminism. That dirty word that makes people screw their faces up and roll their eyes. It's not the act that creates that reaction, it's the word.

Anyone up for some Equalism?

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.