What the movers and shakers think feminism is all about.
Feminism. n. advocacy of equal rights for women.
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
Rebecca West, 1913 (quoted in Faludi, Backlash)
Feminism is about equality for women, nothing more nor less.
Natasha Walter, The New Feminism
In 1970 the movement was called ‘Women’s Liberation’… When the name ‘Libbers’ was dropped for ‘Feminists’ we were all relieved. What none of us noticed was that the ideal of liberation was fading out with the word. We were settling for equality… Women’s liberation did not see the female’s potential in terms of the male’s actual; the visionary feminists of the late Sixties and Seventies knew that women could never find freedom by agreeing to live the lives of unfree men. Seekers after equality clamoured to be admitted to smoke-filled male haunts. Liberationists sought the world over for clues to what women’s lives could be like if they were free to define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate.
Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman
…the feminist aim is not and never has been about joining the system – but changing it.
Yvonne Roberts, Independent, 22 January 2001
On one level all women should be able to own the word ‘feminism’ as describing a theory of self-worth, and the worth of other women. On this level, saying, ‘I am a feminist’ should be like saying ‘I am a human being.’ …On another level, of course, feminism should be broadly understood as a humanistic movement for social justice… On this level, ‘I am a feminist’ means ‘No one should stand in my way because of my gender, and no one should stand in anyone’s way because of their race or gender or sexual orientation.’
Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire
I think the dictionary [definition of feminism] is not bad . . . the belief in the full social, economic and political equality of women and men. I would just add ‘and doing something about it’.
Gloria Steinem, in BUST Winter 2000
I also see [feminism] as a broad-based political movement thats bent on challenging hierarchies of all kinds in our society, including racism and classism and able-body-ism, et cetera, et cetera.
Kathleen Hanna, in BUST Winter 2000
If the ‘f’ word, feminism, is out of fashion today, that’s because it’s associated with the seventies – the mythic decade of our daughters’ births. How can anything espoused by their mothers be either radical or real? But note that our daughters nonetheless want everything that feminism stands for: equal pay, egalitarian marriages, and a place in the White House (without being smuggled in by the president for unpresidential duties). Feminism is the whole climate of their lives, the air they breathe. It hardly needs a name anymore. This is good.
Erica Jong, What Do Women Want?
We’ve entered an era of DIY feminism… Your feminism is what you want it to be and what you make of it. Define your agenda. Claim and reclaim your F-word. My definition of feminism is a simple one: that the sexes are of equal value. What’s yours?
Marcelle Kemp, The BUST Guide to the New Girl Order