Regarding the first concern, I can't particularly be bothered to care about the opinions of people who are alienated by the notion that women are, you know, people. Which I suppose leads me right to the second concern:
What exactly is feminism anymore, anyway?
Oh, were you expecting an easy answer to that? That's adorable!
Let's back up a bit.
I've identified as a feminist for as long as I remember. Definitely since I wrote a paper about Susan B. Anthony in middle school. Definitely since I bought a T-shirt with the quote "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" on it and had to explain what it meant to what felt like everyone at my high school. Definitely since I found out the university where I completed my undergraduate degree offered a minor in Women's Studies. And that is when I really started diving into feminist theory and all of the history behind it.
Photo by Nicole Aarstad
I cannot not draw what "woman" means, generally. Because "woman" does not have one singular definition. Much like "feminism" does not have one singular definition.
As the semester progressed, we often revisited this idea of defining what "woman" means. Do we define it by what are generally considered to be feminine characteristics, like nurturing, empathy, sensitivity, caring, and compassion? Do we define it biologically, by what are generally considered to be female physical characteristics, like the ability to bear children or a body that includes breasts, vagina, vulva, and uterus?
Without entirely derailing myself here with my though process behind why neither of those avenues was appropriate, as each one excludes a number of women, I concluded that the only definition of woman I'm comfortable with is this:
A woman is someone who identifies as a woman.
That is the lowest common denominator. It is the one and only thing that every woman has in common.
So on we go to defining Feminism.
As I learned about the various subsets of the various waves of Feminism. There were a lot of "AHA! That's it!" moments, followed by a lot of "Oh wait, no AHA, THAT'S it!" moments. So who had it right? Was it the Marxist Feminists? The Ecofeminists? Maybe it was the Separatists? What about Black Feminism? Could they all be a little right, in their own ways? Why yes! They could! Just like all of us who call ourselves women are correct that we are women!
Alright then. So what's the lowest common denominator? Do all feminists hate men? No. Are all feminists lesbians? No. Are all feminists hairy legged, makeup abstaining loudmouths? No. (But some really cool ones are!) Do all feminists believe that every woman should work and that stay-at-home moms are setting the movement back? Certainly not. Do all feminists believe that women share equal status as human beings and should have the same rights and opportunities as men?
A Feminist is someone who believes that women share equal status as human beings and should have the same rights and opportunities as men.
So if you believe that? You're a feminist. And you're in good company.