Ms. Magazine
The F Word
The word "feminist" still raises hackles. Is claiming this word all about age, race, and class?

MS.CELLANEOUS:
-What?
-Just The Facts
-Word: Impossible
-Women to Watch

Zero Balance
Those entering middle age are discovering--sometimes too late--that women get the short end of the stick when it comes to retirement benefits.
YOUR HEALTH:
-Healthnotes
-Women's Bodies are Finally Being Studied
The Abortion Pill
Making mifepristone available in this country took decades of struggle and remains fraught with controversy.
-Editor's Page
-Letters
-The Guerilla Girls
-No Comment
-Poetry
-News
Portfolio: Romaine Brooks
Lesbian society in Paris at the turn of the 20th century is captured by this groundbreaking portraitist.
Uppity Women: Rosario Robles' Bold Agenda

Books:
-The Serpent Slayer by Katrin Tchana, Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
-Desirada, Maryse Conde
-Glory Goes And Gets Some, Emily Carter
-The Moon Pearl, Ruthanne Lum McCunn
-Kiss My Tiara, Susan Jane Gilman
-Motiba's Tattoos, Mira Kamdar

-First Person: By Any Other Name
-Columns: Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith and Gloria Steinem
 
 
 

I grew up in Texas. I was a college cheerleader. I was recruited to compete in beauty pageants. But inside, I felt out of step. I had no words for these feelings. And then people started using the word Ms. Suddenly, there was this handle with which I could identify myself and understand why I felt so out of whack with the culture around me. The word, and the concept of feminism, was a gift because it gave me a sense of identity and a way of defining how I wished to live my life. It was critical to finding a way out. I had assumed young women knew the history of feminism and must have felt gratitude to the movement for the opportunities that the work we have done has afforded them. So, when the discussion about not using the term feminist came up at a conference workshop, I couldn't believe it. The more I listened, the more I felt the need to express my passion about my identity as a feminist. I have never experienced racism in the feminist movement, so it concerned me to think that I was unable to see the subject clearly because I came from white, middle-class privilege. But I thought, no--feminism means "equality for all women in all things." It's not just a white woman's word. It's not anybody's word. It is what it is.
Our stories are different; our pain is the same. The work that must be done for each woman to reconnect with her psyche and to give herself a chance to live her own life is essentially the same. The realization of the equality of all races, the equality of all beings is essential. Feminism--the word--can give us a handle, a rallying point, a common ground, and help us build a bridge. Why not claim the gift of the word as a place to begin? The pure connecting factor is that those of us who describe ourselves as feminists want equal rights for all people. We can't compare stories. We can only know in our hearts that we are the same. That may be the best we can do. When there's an opportunity to do more, we must. If we're for one another, we're feminists. The rest is semantics.
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