Since when have “feminism” and “feminist” become such a taboo set of concepts? Why do people have such different ideas of how to achieve the goals of feminism? And why do so many celebrities and other public figures run from the word?
This graph makes me wonder: Did the internet kill feminism?
The appearance of certain words in books and texts located in Google’s database of texts dates back to the 1800’s. What strikes me is that as the term (and use) of the internet rises, the appearance of the term feminism declines. There might not be a correlation at all, but it can lead us down an interesting path of inquiry. The tech world is male-dominated and the internet is just one of the tech creations that has rapidly changed the face of our virtual and physical realities. In the pre-internet world, protesting en masse for social causes and equal pay allowed some anonymity. Now future employers can look at your online profiles and decide not to hire you based on any number of your public beliefs.
Feminists have long had to fight the twisting of the mission from equality of the genders with opponents who believe we are all misandrists who want the subjugation of men. So when private beliefs went more public on the internet, it could be that people felt that in order to have and retain power in a male-centric world, they had to start shying away from the term. Making private opinions or actions public has been shown to have professional and personal consequences in the internet age over and over and over again. So there is a reason for women to protect the advances feminism has made by allowing their feminism to remain private rather than public.
However people identify, feminist or not, many famous people are starting to question the gender gap again and the word feminism is getting some frequency. They are asking why the media is so male centric and women are used in that media only for supporting roles, or pretty things to look at (image, at right).
So while you figure out if the term feminist is for you, I encourage you to support organizations like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that works in the entertainment industry to dramatically alter how girls and women are reflected in media. Better yet support Reel Grrls a group right here in Seattle battling for more women’s voices in film from production to directing to writing.
Actually, we should all be feminists and I will let the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (below) tell you why. Unless you would rather here it from Beyonce.