I’ve been wondering lately: Is feminism an outdated term?

I consider myself a feminist. I hope to raise my daughters as feminists. If I had sons, I’d say the same thing. I really can’t understand why any person would be against equality. But, something about the word itself seems to be so triggering these days that it somehow takes away from the message. 

I’ve been drawn into countless conversations (OK, arguments) recently on social media involving heated topics such as abortion, sexual assault or trans-rights in which some random man I don’t even know tries to support his position on an issue by name calling, and inevitably, feminist is one of the hurled insults. (And don’t @ me please. I can’t help it if it’s men who I argue with.)

It’s pretty hard to insult me in the first place, but calling me a feminist and thinking it will sting is laughable. 

I’ll admit that I bear some responsibility for getting into these scuffles. The older I get, the less intolerant I am of intolerance and the more likely I am to speak up when I recognize it. The thing is, it seldom works. You can’t fight emotions with logic. You can’t counter name calling with facts and expect that will suddenly encourage intelligent discourse. 

Still, I fight the good fight, hoping that marginalized kids will see that there are people out there who believe in them and support them. It may not completely counteract the hate they’re shown from ignorant people, but in a small way it might remind them that they’re not alone.

A national survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation finds 6 in 10 women and one-third of men call themselves a feminist or strong feminist, with roughly 7 in 10 of each saying the movement is empowering.

Yet, it says, more than 4 in 10 Americans see the movement as angry, and a similar portion say it unfairly blames men for women’s challenges. 

I can’t speak for others, but yeah, I am angry. I’m angry that there still are people out there who condone the beating of a transgender woman, who don’t believe assault survivors, who don’t support a woman’s authority over her own body. I’m angry that  my daughters will still be fighting these battles when there is so much in the world I’d rather they be able to focus their attention on. I know others are angry, too.

I don’t blame men in general for this, though. I blame those who are so afraid of anything or anyone that is different. I blame those who seek to condone instead of understand. I blame those who say “I just don’t want them waiving it in my kid’s face.” Children are born with tolerance and acceptance. It’s up to us to nurture that in them.

So, no, calling me a feminist isn’t going to hurt my feelings. I’m going to seek to understand why you feel the way you do, but make no mistake I’m not going to condone it. I’m going to continue to speak out when I see and I’m going to encourage others to do the same. 

If you agree with me, please speak up, do your part. If not, well, I guess I’ll be arguing with you on the Internet sometime soon.

Kim Shute can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or ntprinceton@newstrib.com Follow her on Twitter at NT_Princeton2

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Bureau-Putnam Bureau Chief Contact: (815) 879-5200 ntprinceton@newstrib.com Covering Bureau and Putnam Counties.

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