Writing Prompt: Feminism In Today’s World—OR—Why “Feminism” As A Word Is Tainted, In My Opinion

Writing Prompt: Feminism In Today’s World—OR—Why “Feminism” As A Word Is Tainted, In My Opinion

Feminism: Graffiti on a wall in Jamaica shows a woman chasing a man with a club.

A friend sent me this video a few days back:

It’s a good one. Eliza VanCort obviously knows her shit, and as a communication geek, I picked up a few ways of thinking and speaking about communication that I didn’t have before.

Some of the video made me cringe, though.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, this setting the traditional concept of men against the traditional concept of women.

And that can (and does in the video) include our trans brethren and sistren, making them a part of the expected binary of man = oppressor, and woman = underdog.

Which is where feminism as a word and as practice (for many) goes horribly awry for me.

It’s not that I don’t think there are characteristics MORE COMMON in specific biological sexes and/or hormonal genders. I do.

Heck, everyone who has ever had hormone therapy (for transition or for medical treatment, etc.) has told me that they could feel the difference in how they thought and felt as new/different hormones had their effect.

BUT, and this is a BIG BUT…

We are more varied as individuals within our biological sexes/genders than we are man to woman.

Let’s take IQ, for example:

William James Sidis (IQ ~ 250+, never confirmed)
Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ – 228, recorded, confirmed, highest tested score)

So, let’s say a difference of 30 points between the greatest man and the greatest woman IQ, here.

And yet, when we look at IQs of all women or all men, they functionally range from below 70 to 228, or 250+, respectively.

So, instead of a range of 30 or so between men and women, we have a range of 180 between men and men and 150 between women and women.

And pretty much everything can be put into similar terms.

Why “Feminism” As A Word Is Tainted, In My Opinion

As a word, I said.

Not as a concept, at least for me.

The word, and how people react to it, is pretty much, in my view, dead.

Not dead and buried.


Dead like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

Or dead like a zombie.

It’s still mobile and mobilizing and wreaking havoc.

It’s not fair that it’s dead. Not at all. It has lofty ideals, and would be fantastically good for the country. Hell, good for the world. But that potential seems to have been killed slowly through a hundred thousand papercuts, accusations and a smear campaign.


Sound familiar?

It is familiar to so many.

This is their very best well-worn pathway in their brain, fired up and wide open as soon as they read or hear the word “feminism” or “feminist,” effectively cutting off critical thought, openness to new ideas, or anything else beyond rage and a deep, penetrating fear installed by propagandists, insecurity, and quite possibly personal experience with a not-so-wonderful self-identifier.

So, what am I getting at?

Essentially that I know that feminism is about equity between all genders at it’s core for a good portion of those who self-identify. Not about one sex over another or one gender to rule them all.

I know this.


And yet, the language used in feminism is SO OFTEN about two genders, two biological sexes, and pitting them against each other.

Heck, type “define feminism” into Google, and you’ll get:

the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

Equality of the sexes.

I think it’s a mistake to focus on biological sex (and possibly gender) divides, versus looking at problematic, oppressive behaviors and showing how anyone can oppress another OR lift them up, regardless of their presented/perceived sex or gender.

Because I know that as who I am, I’ve run roughshod over others in my personal communication, because I assumed they had (at least) the same ability to talk more loudly, make their points, or stand their ground as I did when passionate about something.

And I’ve had similar done to me by others in situations where I might not have been as comfortable or as part of the “in crowd,” when I could have made a greater contribution, had I been given the verbal or body language cues that I was welcome and invited to speak and share.

As long as we choose the word feminist over a more gender-neutral all-empowering term, the taint of the war of the sexes will haunt our efforts to create equity and parity.

That said, It’s a long and tough fight however it’s presented.

Because oppression is systemic. And many who are oppressed oppress others in their efforts to succeed. The system is rigged.

And no one like to be called an -ist (sexist, racist, misogynist), no matter how apparent the biases might be to everyone else.

And to admit that we are wrong, we have to be able to accept that we have been wrong in the past, not just in this one instance. Perhaps many times, and perhaps with great harm to people we love. And we have to take personal responsibility for that harm we may have done while being wrong.

If you think about it that way, it can seem an insurmountable mountain to overcome.

Digging in and shutting out new views seems so much safer, in contrast.

And this applies to how feminism, or humanism, or whatever we might could call this beyond basic decency.

And it applies to how we speak about it, share it, and enact it.

The Prompt

  • Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel that the battle of the sexes is an effective tool for change?
  • How do you see other genders fitting in? Is it on a binary scale or a continuum, or…?
  • Do you think feminism is relevant today, in it’s current incarnation?
  • Do you know anything better?

Feel free to write in the comments or in your own journal and link here (so others can read it), or just think on it or write on it and keep it to yourself, if you prefer.

Write a sentence. Or a paragraph. Or an essay. Or whatever this is to you. Talk it out. Make it yours.

I look forward to reading.



CC: Ralf Steinberger

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