A word that roars

Number 1 friend and I were chatting about some bollocks or other, as is our way and during the course of the bollocks I happened to say: I’m not a feminist. “You what!” she exclaimed. “I’d say you are definitely a feminist!” So that was that.

Except it wasn’t, because of course, it got me thinking. I’ve known my friend for years. She’s that friend that has so much shit on you that you can never, ever fall out. Yet here we were disagreeing on a word. Evidently ‘feminist’ means something slightly different to the two of us. Well, make that three, because a few days later my number 1 New Zealand friend piped up on a Facebook feed in response to me mentioning that word again. ‘Pardon me for jumping in on your conversation, but do you not think you’re a feminist Al?’ Oh crikey, I thought. I really do need to give this one some thought. This basically means talking to partner about it – usually on a dog walk. 

‘So, do you think I’m a feminist?’ I asked him. He thought I was. ‘But I hate that word’, I grumbled. ‘And besides, men often say they are feminists and it just sounds wrong.’

I was clearly struggling with this one. ‘We need a new word,’ I told him. ‘One that can be used by men and women, that doesn’t, as my friend number 1 New Zealand friend said, carry: ‘connotations of being bra burning, staunch, anti-men..when in fact a feminist can just be pro-women.’ She has a PhD in Linguistics, so I decided that she was the person for the job.

A little while later she messaged me: At the moment all my ideas sound like feminine hygiene products

This is my problem too. So now I am looking to a new word: empowerment. Because, you see, I know that I want my daughters to be empowered and I wrote about it in my post: Lionize the nice girl. I want them to have a voice and I know that it’s going to need to be the size of a lion’s roar to get heard. But we mustn’t forget the boys. They need to be empowered too: partly to keep up with the girls and partly because they too are not always equal to others. Take the recent news stories about the sexual abuse suffered by young football players at the mercy of their coach. Where was their voice? Where is the voice of the boy who is being bullied for being different? Where is the voice of the boy who thinks he may be gay? We need to make sure that all our children have a voice.

So, if I am not happy about referring to myself as a feminist, while men are quite happy to call themselves one. If being a feminist is actually as simple as equality for both sexes and if equality for all means ensuring that our kids are empowered, then we definitely need to come up with something more inclusive and encompassing. A word that excludes bigots, racists and homophobes. A word that eschews misogyny and bullies. We need a word that roars.

When we find this word, it will marked as a new turn in history. It will be known as the time when we realised that actually, things work a lot better when there is equality and that the world is a more equal place when everyone has a voice. When we find this word, I will use it.

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8 thoughts on “A word that roars”

  1. “Empowerment” is not without its drawbacks. I don’t mind it, but many think it’s a bit watered down; the kind of thing a Kardashian might use to sell a lipstick. At the end of the day they are all just words. What’s important is the sentiment behind them, which I completely agree with, I’d just call it equality.

    1. Yes to equality, but I don’t like the noun that’s derived from it – an equalist just sounds a bit naff. I love your comment that empowerment sounds like a word used to sell a Kardashian lipstick! They are just all words, but my search continues for a new one.

  2. It’s an interesting thought. I don’t know whether the problem with the term feminism is that popular perception is driven by those who oppose it rather those that live it. Any ‘ism’ seems to almost have negative connotations by default.

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  3. I have similar feelings about the word feminist. I probably am one too, but I don’t like the stereotype either. I heard sometime using the term equalist the other day. It gets the message across, but I’d doesn’t have a fancy ring to it!

  4. My husband gets annoyed when I say that I’m a feminist as he thinks that it means that I am going to grow my leg hair and become a lesbian. Clearly he needs enlightening! I tell him that it just means equality – or at least it should without all the connotations of the last 40-odd years. Words are constantly being reinvented to be made more PC. I agree that it is time for feminism to get a facelift. #BloggerClubUK

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