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Feminism

I saw your site, and like the idea that you have this FEMINIST.COM page. But you should know that some of us have met mean people who are feminists, or at least say that they are. My father says I shouldn't just make fun of feminism and to give it a chance, if not now then for college (I'm almost 15), and to not let the mean girls ruin things, and my mother would have said the same. But some of the older girls {WOMEN! and don't forget it!} at school are really obnoxious and hate a lot of people (sometimes each other!), and they say that they're feminists too. And it's silly of the feminists at school to pretend to hate boys and then be just as snobby and exclusive, acting just like them. And I don't thing I'm a bad person just because I like going my own way. I think being a feminist would be interesting in a sense, but I don't want to ignore my friends, including those who are males, because friends really are friends. If you want to write back, please do; I'm Lisa (Dad's computer!)

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for following your dad's advice of giving feminists a second chance. If you look feminist up in a dictionary-it defines it as "someone who supports the full social, political, and economic equality of women and men." I usually add to this definition that feminism means the ability to make informed choices about our lives--this could be the choice to be a "stay-at-home" mother or father or a CEO or a Senator. It is about providing enough resources--mostly information--but also examples-so women (and men) can know all that is available to them. Feminism equally has men's best interest at heart--after all, wouldn't it be great it father's could be "parents" and child care workers and elementary school teachers? Gloria Steinem often says that the only alternative to being a feminist is to be a masochist--because the former is about being "self-loving" therefore to not choose that would be to be self-hating--i.e. a masochist.

I had a different experience than you--in the fact that the first "feminists" I knew were great. They were nice, committed, supportive, secure in who they were--it was almost something to idolize. Someone to want to be. Although I have run into some of the feminists who you are referring to--I can assure you that this is the exception and not the rule. These are the same women who think that feminism is simply about whether or not a man should open the door for us and about calling ourselves "women" not "girls"--and only about "breaking the glass ceiling." It is really about changing an entire system--and that starts with changing ourselves.

For me, feminism is a way of life. When I first began to identify as a feminist, I use to preface it by saying "but I don't hate men, I do shave my legs and I'm not a lesbian." In hindsight, I was giving in to what others had wrongly made feminism out to be about. Likewise, I realized that I was wrongly punishing people who were gay by not aligning myself with them. For me, feminism is also about a community that is likely to support me in the responsible choices I make about my life. It means that I have a great group of friends--male and female. It has meant that every day I wake up and try to do and say what I want. For me this hasn't meant obnoxious things (at least I hope not), but about being supportive of myself and others.

I couldn't agree with you more that feminism shouldn't be about putting men down. I think that feminism needs men--and vice versa. For example, it has a much greater impact when men say, "our company needs more women in leadership positions". This is similar to the fact that as a white person, I need to say "that's not funny" to racist jokes. Not to put pressure on you...but your example can give other people in your school an example of what feminism is really about. Not all feminists get along--nor should we. Although there are basic principles that underlie feminism--there are many different means of reaching these goals. The only excuse I can possibly make for the other girls in your school--is that they might feel like they have lived their lives at such an unequal place----perhaps 90% male and 10% female in terms of resources. To get to 50/50--they might see counterbalancing as their only option. I can't promise that once you get to college it will be much better, but who knows. What you are likely to find is at least a bigger community and, therefore, more people who think like you.

I hope this helps--but if not, let me know because my intent was to make you realize that feminism is great. I promise that it will make a positive impact in your life. Good luck with everything and thanks for listening--sorry to ramble.


Amy

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