Fem*i*nist (adjective): advocating, social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.
Sometimes words like “feminist” have a negative connotation. I know it does for me. I can’t tell you how often I use the phrase, “I’m no bra-burning feminist…” It indicates that I do not associate myself with one of those “crazy,” “wild,” “woman supremacists.” And I don’t.
Ever since I watched the documentary Miss Representation a few weeks ago, the idea of feminism and women’s rights has been weighing heavily on my brain. Initially the film made me feel like I needed to do more. I sat on the couch feeling like by not being one of the aforementioned bra-burners I was doing my gender a disservice. I was all fired up.
But then my inner sensibility got the better of me (thank God). I started thinking about my life and the activities and organizations I’m involved with. I went to journalism school (a field the documentary said was male-dominated…I never felt that way, but I probably wasn’t paying attention), I am now an editor at an aviation magazine (the aviation industry is male-dominated). I am a pilot–one of only about 40,000 women in the United States who can say that.
Occasionally I have to press for equality or respect in my profession, but more often than not the men are understanding, supportive, and respectful. Oddly enough, some of my biggest battles for respect in my field have been with other women. (I write most of it off to her own lack of confidence.)
I don’t burn bras (does anyone anymore? really?), but I do set a positive example. I am involved in my local and national Women in Aviation chapter. The organization does a fantastic job of mentoring the next generation and positively supporting the current generation while honoring the generation that came before us. I strive to be the best I can possibly be at my job and work to be a confident, competent, and safe pilot.
What does that do to advance the cause of women? It sets a good example for the next generation. An example that says, “Hey, if I’m good at what I do–whatever that may be–I’ll get the respect I deserve.” Sure, there’s misogyny to be encountered along the way, but that’s where you just have to have a thick skin, keep your chin up, and keep plugging along. Use your anger to fuel the fire that gives you energy to prove them wrong.
This is a complicated topic–and no doubt one some people feel incredibly passionate about. I’m not out to judge what kind of feminism is best, I’m just saying there’s more ways than “radical” to make a positive difference for the advancement of equality. Since I watched that documentary I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, so this is not likely to be my last blog post on the subject. I look forward to reading your insightful comments and continuing the discussion on this!