Are You a Feminist?

Posted May 21, 2013 by Katherine Toll in On the Ladder

The simple question, Are you a feminist? never occupied much space in my mind. Of course, I am. What woman isn’t? would have been my spontaneous response.

It never occurred to me some women might posses a different opinion, or need to explain their version of feminism. However after a few weeks of discussing this topic at women’s networking events and with friends over dinner, or drinks, I learned a valuable lesson:

Some (in fact, many) women are uncomfortable answering ‘yes’ to the simple question. Most often, I listened as women qualified their answers, or tangoed around the perceived issue:

  1. Well, I’m not one of those radical lesbians, if that’s what you mean! (No it’s not what I meant, but thanks for sharing.)
  2. I’m lucky, I’ve never felt discriminated against. I’ve always earned the same as my male counterparts. (Translation: Feminism is about equal pay for equal work. I’m good, so can we change the subject, please?)
  3. Maybe I was years ago, but things are different now. Men pitch in with the chores. (As if household chores was the original rallying cry for feminism.)

I quickly discovered I KNEW NOTHING, when it came to understanding women’s complex feelings surrounding the word, ‘feminist’.

So,I ask you Career Girls: Are you a feminist? If you’re confused as to how to answer the question, let me provide you with a few options:

Naomi Wolf,

For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; that we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious–or whatever we please; we are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.

Louisa May Alcott, An Old Fashioned Girl,

The emerging woman … will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied…strength and beauty must go together.

Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman,

We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?

Don’t see your version of feminism articulated here? Then tell us yours! Are you a feminist? If so, why, or why not? 




About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.