I’m so sick and tired of people telling me they are not feminist.
(But, oh, yes, of course women should be equal…)

As if somehow you can’t be a feminist unless you… fill in some “undesirable” quality or practice here. Hairy-legged, man-hating lesbians all. OK, so this is nothing new, we all KNOW that feminists are all hairy great ugly people who can’t get a man*. I realise that this is not news, I’m just feeling the need for a rant!

[* For stupid people, I will clarify that this is an ironic remark.]

However, I do get what they mean. The word “feminism” is one that really does have the power to turn people off. Of course, it’s all down to the miogynist press demonising those uppity women who dare to claim that they should be entitled to vote / earn decent money / not be raped. Still, the negative connotations are definitely there.

Personally, I much prefer the term coined by Alice Walker – Womanism.

It has a rounder, more fertile, more woman-centred, more grown-up feel to it than “feminism”. It sounds more like it is about solidarity and mutual support and less like it is about idealogical separatism. It sounds like it is about the positive aspects of womanhood. It is a good word.

I do very much like this article, quoting extensively from Gloria Steinem on the subject.

And this Alice Walker quote too (given in the same article):

“… Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally universalist… Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”

I think that sounds a bit like me… 🙂

As Alice Walker puts it elsewhere (in The Color Purple, I think) – “Womanism is to feminism as purple is to lavender.” Brighter, more vibrant, more real, more alive!

It is a good word. But I think it’s taken.

I’m neither black nor American, and I don’t feel I can steal this word from the women who have made it their own. I wish I could, and sometimes I have a little borrow (e.g. my “womanist literature” list on Touchingly Naive Books), but it doesn’t seem on, not really.

Oh well.

But after all, it’s just a word.