In her book, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, Bell Hooks talks about the words, feminist and feminism in the contexts of their definitions and uses. She discusses how their definitions and connotations have changed and evolved throughout history to often become negative and produce negative thoughts and feelings especially for women.
I believe that these words do not have to have negative connotations attached to them nor do they have negative connotations for all people. I believe that the negative connotations that they produce for people are truly just a generalization that individual people believe and imagine to be real for everyone because they see these negative connotations themselves. I believe that connotations and definitions of the words feminist and feminism are different for everyone and people see them in their own individual way. I believe that the definitions of thee words can be fluid and each woman defines these words in her own way. These words are often associated with hating men, trying to destroy the patriarchy of this world and creating a matriarchy, but I believe this is only truly for a certain few individual women.
I see the words feminist and feminism in a very positive light the produces positive connotations for myself and other women. I see them as something to identify with positively and to empower women in what they do with and in their lives. Feminist and and Feminism can be used to describe independent and strong women who want to have control of and run their own lives in the way in which they want. I see these words as a way to identify yourself as a someone who fights for women another rights as a human being.
In the words of Bell Hooks, “I have found that saying ‘I am a feminist’ usually means I am plugged into preconceived notions of identity, role, or behavior. When I say ‘I advocate feminism,’ the response is usually, ‘What is feminism?’ A phrase like ‘I advocate’ does not imply the kind of absolutism that is suggested by ‘I am.’” (Page 31, Feminist Theory). I do not agree with this statement. I believe that the words feminist and feminism do not usually imply certain roles, or identities of any kind nor do they usually lead to questions such as, what is feminism?
It is often associated with feminism that feminist hate men, they are lesbians, they are whiny bitches who do not shut, they hate families, they are always angry, etc. but I believe these are unfair and unsupported stereotypes. I, myself, am a feminist and I tend to be the total opposite of these stereotypes. I am very rarely angry, most of the time I am a happy person. I do not hate men, in fact I love men. Yes, I dislike certain men for being sexist, or being assholes to women, but I do not hate men. I do not hate families and I am not a lesbian, I am all for families that are loving and supporting of each other and I am bi-sexual not a lesbian, I am still attracted to men. I also am not a whiny bitch, I am a very quiet person who does talk very much and if I know that me saying something will hurt, or be offensive to someone I keep my mouth shut and do not say it.
When I personally say that I am a feminist and say I support feminism I do not means stereotypically that women should rule the world and that the patriarchy of society should be overthrown and brought down but that women should be treated similar to men, as human beings, who are entitled to the same rights as men. When I say I am a feminist I mean that I believe that women should have the right and the freedom to be feminine by dressing like women, acting like women, treating others like a woman should and would, etc., but also that women should have the same rights as and be seen as equal to men. My meaning being a feminist is supporting equal rights for women, the same freedoms for women and women having the same say in authority and in put as men but having men still having the final and top authority to make the final and official decisions in the end, most of the time anyway. Women have a the same say in everything as men but do not always make the official final decision.
The definitions, connotations, and uses of the words feminist and feminism have come to be evolved and changed from what they were originally but at the same time they still do not have one single, agreed definition, they still differ from person to person and group to person to person and sometimes they have positive connotations and sometimes negative connotations. My definitions and connotations may differ from Bell Hooks’ or anyone else’s opinion but that does not mean that it is wrong and it does not mean it is right, it just means it is different.