The F-bomb Strikes Again


TO: Young women in their twenties or thirties who are getting or have acquired an education

FROM: Women older than you who are freakin’ tired of the rampant fear created by the “f” word

DATE: Unbelievably in the 21st Century

I woke up this morning in a reasonably good mood. I’d slept a fair bit during the night, have too much to accomplish today but at that is normal and the coffee machine works. I gave Pippi her morning treat, started the coffee brewing and logged onto my email. Wouldn’t you know, glaring at me in my inbox was a note from a friend that had my blood boiling in just a few seconds!

It turns out a Presbyterian pastor from Minnesota was asked by to write a blog for their website. While I don’t visit all that often, I do occasionally check it out and each semester I have my students take their belief quiz where after answering a series of questions, a score is calculated and a person’s religious preferences are given. Students are almost always surprised to discover their beliefs seldom align them with the tradition to which they belong. So, it works well as an exercise to create interest and curiosity about the course.

But now I’m going to reconsider whether or not to make use of this site because of its narrow-mindedness over the “f” word.

In an interview with the staff about her possible inclusion as a blog writer, Kristine Holmgren clearly told them: “You’ve got to know that I’m a Presbyterian pastor but I come to the world as a feminist.” Initially comfortable with her answer Holmgren was hired and went to work with editors to create her blog design. It was then that the “f” word created overwhelming panic on behalf of the editors. Holmgren was advised to find alternative ways of identifying herself because their readers, apparently, don’t want to read so much about feminism, looking for things more inspirational, of course.

What is it about the word “feminism” that causes people to get all wobbly-kneed and shakin’ in their boots (I’m living in Texas, for goodness sake)? From all of the frightful commotion as people run as fast as they can from anyone or anything related to feminism, you’d think feminists had taken over the world, creating culture after culture where one group of people enjoyed control at the expense of all other groups. Imagine such a world.

Well, I’m not convinced there is any one problem with the term, but I think there is one aspect that could be changed by young women who have grown up in a world where they have options—real options, all created because feminists several years ago decided to be courageous, to contravene societal norms, to make it happen.

So, for all the women today who know how to read and to write, those who can do complex mathematical equations and scientific experiments, those who have careers at teachers and truck drivers, physicians and entrepreneurs, remember the feminists who made your career possible. I simply do not know any other movement where the people who are reaping the benefits of their predecessors denigrate the trail blazers and resist being identified with the very ones who removed the boulders, who identified and disregarded the obstacles making our various paths realistic options.

Our culture will continue to resist equality for women if women themselves refuse to stand up and embrace our progressive foremothers. They were feminists, people who believed women should be treated fairly including simple things we take for granted: get an education, open a bank account, make purchases on our own, and vote.

If not for yourself, then for all other women today and those who will follow behind us, embrace the “f” word. Be a feminist and be proud of it! Your daughters and sisters, your nieces and friends are counting on you.