Changing The Word ‘Feminist’

I feel like a broken record, going on and on about this all the time. I also feel like I’ve made a blog post about this before, but it’s something that really really bothers me about modern attitudes towards feminism.

Many people believe that ‘feminism’ is some sort of an offensive word. They behave as if the word feminism is the most restricting aspect of the feminist movement – as if the only reason why feminism isn’t gaining more traction or making enough progress in the modern world is because feminists call themselves ‘feminist.’ Many people also propose the idea of changing the name of feminism to something else, less ‘offensive’ and more neutral – humanism. 

My first problem with this is that it detracts from the whole point of feminism. From my understanding, people who believe the movement should be changed to ‘humanism’ also believe that the movement should be adapted to combat all social injustices in one sweep. Those who call themselves humanist, or part of the humanist movement, would be fighting against racism, homophobia, female oppression, and all other forms of destructive prejudice. While there is nothing wrong with this idea in theory, (and I myself would probably call myself a humanist as I am trying to fight against all forms of social injustice) it completely overlooks the point of why there is a specific feminist movement. If we squeeze together all forms of social, political and economical injustice into one movement, we can’t effectively fight against all of them separately at the same time. By this, I mean, if you’re part of a movement trying to combat homophobia, transphobia, racism and female oppression all at the same time, you can’t fully focus on and make progress in just one of those things at a time. We lose the concentrated fighting power against one issue that we would have if we kept the movements separate. The point of the feminist movement is that it is a movement solely dedicated to making men and women equal in all aspects of life. If we changed the movement’s name and aim, we will lose the focus on that goal.

My second problem is, if we did change the name of feminism to something else, what difference would this make? Would everyone in the world suddenly accept feminism, or whatever we were calling it? Would everyone be more inclined to support feminism, even though it’s definition and purpose would not have changed? No, I don’t think so. Yes, the word feminism has negative connotations, and these negative connotations can be a big reason as to why people do not identify as feminists despite believing in everything feminism stands for, but the changing of the word itself would not mean that all feminism’s problems are solved. In my personal opinion, I find it quite ridiculous that someone could identify with all the things feminism stands for, yet not call themselves a feminist. However, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, the name of the movement is not what matters – the main point is what it stands for. On the other hand, I strongly believe that feminism does not need to be changed to suit people who are afraid to call themselves feminist because they don’t want to be judged for being one. 

My third problem with changing the name of feminism is it just shows how much people do not want women to have a movement focused on elevating their rights to the level of a man’s. Feminism is called feminism because although it is a movement focused on the political, economical and social equality of the sexes, it has a particular focus on women, as they are the oppressed minority in this situation. That is the whole point of feminism, and by changing the name we disregard everything feminism stands for and everything feminism tries to achieve.

Think about it. Is the real problem with feminism the name by which it is called, or the fact that modern society is still so unprepared to accept female equality it perpetuates the idea that feminism is such a flawed movement that it’s biggest hindrance is it’s name?

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