On Valentine’s Day, I received an anonymous message calling me a (gasp!) “feminist.” Let me be clear — this was no love letter.
Rather than provoke, the not-so-nice note got me wondering. I mean, when was the last time anyone even used the word “feminist”?
The note was clearly a response to the newspaper’s recent editorial in which the editorial board supported the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, and our spotlight on “One Billion Rising,” an international movement that asked a billion women worldwide to rise up and dance on Feb. 14 to draw attention to the atrocities committed against women and children.
Oh, and I probably got the note because I am a woman. Yep, put those two together and you’ve obviously got a feminist on your hands.
Seriously, though, the last time I remember having a discussion about feminists was back in the ’70s in a high school current affairs class. The Equal Rights Amendment was the big topic in the news. It had passed in both the Senate and the House and had gone to state legislatures for ratification. It failed to get the number of ratifications needed (Missouri was one of those states refusing) and was never adopted.
If Bella Abzug, who is considered the mother of the feminist movement in the ’70s, was vilified for her social push for women, one can only imagine the reaction to Alice Paul, the original author of a proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.
So, what exactly is a feminist? According to Webster’s, a feminist is a woman who believes that women should have political, economic and social rights equal to those of men.
It’s hard to believe today that such a fierce and ugly battle was waged over the question of equality for women.