Where did this notion that feminists are strident come from? How did the word feminist come to be so unappealing? I have a theory. It seems that whoever manages to define a term to his or her advantage and make it stick wins the contest. Men who don’t want women as equals seem to have loud voices. Over the years, they have reshaped the word feminist as a slur, and now many women and most young girls are reluctant to define themselves with that word.
Rather than allowing the word to be tarnished by negative stereotypes, why not focus instead on what it really means? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” I believe women should be proud of who we are and not absorb the negative messages we receive. Should the dictionary folks ask me to help write the next edition’s entry, here is what I suggest: Feminist: a woman who believes in her own unlimited strength and courage.
This message is adapted from “Fuzzy-Sweater Feminist” written by Jennifer Basye Sander in the June 2005 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.