No more f-word?

Make sure to check out Rebecca Traister’s excellent piece today in Salon, The F Word. (And I’m not just saying that cause I’m quoted in it, I swear.)
Traister’s piece takes on the word ‘feminism’ and asks if it’s time we retire—or reclaim—it:
It’s no great news that “feminism” — the word and, by extension, the movement — has an image problem. Women of all ages and colors have, at turns, bristled at the term, embraced it, lauded it and disdained it, practically since it was coined. However, after years of soldiering on under the burden of a heavily loaded word, a new crop of progressive and politically active women are finally addressing the problem. Some are looking to reinvigorate “feminist” by laying claim to the word — a new magazine and a recent book are both cheekily titled “The F Word” — while others are contemplating new words and phrases to employ in the fight for women’s equality. After years of quiet debate, women are tackling their own labels with the energy of a movement anxious to make itself fresh again.
Clearly an interesting topic all by itself (well, at least to me), this ‘feminism’ argument gets a lot juicier when you see the craziness that ensued as Traister put this article together:
…But the hyper-sensitivity surrounding the “feminism” discussion makes it an ideological fire-starter. Weeks after my interview with Gandy, I called Feminist Majority leader Eleanor Smeal about this story. When I asked her to respond to some of the comments Gandy had made, I was apparently unclear, somehow leaving Smeal with the impression that I was reporting that Gandy wanted NOW to abandon the word “feminism.” This was certainly not what I was reporting. But Smeal alerted Gandy to the possibility that my story might suggest that Gandy was rejecting the word just days before her reelection as NOW president. A very agitated Gandy called me to clarify that her comments were not reflective of any formal discussions within her organization. I assured her that I only planned to report what she had told me: that she had had discussions about the word with colleagues at NOW. She responded: “I hear people talk about it. But they don’t talk about it that often. To say that ‘there have been discussions within NOW’ would convey a really inaccurate thing.” Gandy emphasized that she can’t imagine ever backing away from “feminism.”
(You really have to read the whole piece to get the context, but you get the point…)
Why oh why are folks so scared of just being candid? I realize that the backlash is always intense when it comes to feminism, but shit—can’t we even talk amongst ourselves?
Is ‘feminism’ really so bad? It seems the sentiment from older feminists is that younger women don’t relate to the word. Clearly I disagree, but I can understand wanting to make feminism more accessible and appealing to younger women. That’s part of the reason I started this blog. But I can’t imagine what other word we could use. (I’m pretty clear in the article how I feel about ‘humanist’.)
And like Amy Richards says in article, “Whatever we’d change ‘feminism’ to would become a bad word too.” No joke.
Any thoughts?

Amanda at Pandagon has perhaps the most eloquent response to the article ever: You could call it “suckacockism” and people would still hate it as long as you were calling for women’s social, economic and political equality. Nice.

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