What it drills down to is that many people have a problem with the term, not the actual theory behind feminism. Studies substantiate this claim. Even though a majority of people understand gender bias exists, they can’t imagine referring to themselves as feminists. Of course, there are extremists who actually don’t believe in equality between men and women, but for the most part the general public’s objection to feminism is based upon its bad reputation and not its actual theory. In these discussions, after someone has stated their discomfort with feminism and I’ve explained what it’s really all about (the end to sexist oppression) the next question is always, “So why not go for a different term? ‘Feminism’ has such a bad connotation.” Some of my friends and acquaintances even go as far as to identify as equalists.
But this is where I simply must stand firm. For me, part of sexism is the systematic devaluation of everything associated with women; feminism included. For me to identify as a feminist is key to my work as someone who rejects sexism (and all the other –isms for that matter.) Giving up the term would be like a small symbol of giving into the idea that to stand up for women is the same as being an angry man-hater. Clearly, being pro-girl is not the same thing as being anti-boy. Feminism really is for everybody (thanks bell hooks!)