I know how everyone has been clamoring for more posts about women’s issues (that was a joke, although those posts have been quite popular), so after reading a comment posted by maybelogics I’ve decided to post one more.
People can call themselves whatever they want, but the term “feminist” now seems to be nothing but a meaningless badge. I know of very few women who call themselves feminists without a mile long list of qualifiers. And yet, I know very few women who are willing to disassociate themselves from the term like Agitator fan maybelogics did in her comment.
Wikipedia lists three broad historical historical groups of feminists: First Wave Feminists (probaby dead now), Second Wave Feminists (began in the 1960s), Third Wave Feminists (began in the 1990s), and Post Feminist Feminists (seriously!).
Then it names a few more precise divisions: Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism, Socialist Feminism, Marxist Feminism, Anti-Pornography Feminism, Sex-Positive Feminism, Anarcha-Feminism, Separatist Feminism, Libertarian Feminism, Individualist Feminism, Gender Feminism, Lesbian Feminism, Conservative Feminism (really!), Ecofeminism, Cultural Feminism, Christian Feminism, Islamic Feminism, Jewish Feminism, Wiccan Feminism, Black Feminism, Chicana Feminism, Postmodern Feminism, Post-Structural Feminism, Lipstick Feminism, and “other”.
If that weren’t enough, I’d be willing to bet most readers could add even more to the list. For example, I’ve heard the term “classical feminism” and I know Maggie McNeil uses the term neofeminism.
In a way, I can see how a woman might find it difficult to disengage from the feminist label given that there are so many flavors that it seems unlikely that any woman could claim that not a single one applies to her. It’s a bit like expanding the meaning of the term mental illness to include everyone on the planet (and no, I am not trying to imply that feminism is a mental illness).
Despite all the different meanings, people still usually use the single word “feminist’ when they discuss the topic. When I was blogging on sexhysteria.com, I actually disliked using the term feminist because it was too broad, and yet adding a qualifier made it too narrow.
I look forward with some anxiety to the comments, because when a man raises the topic of feminism, it can often be a lot like hitting himself in the nuts with a hammer. His only thought afterwords is, why the fuck did I do that?
Anyway, here is the question: Hasn’t the term “feminist” become so ambiguous as to be essentially useless?