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Teach Your Friends “Feminist” Isn’t a Dirty Word

I wish I could pinpoint the year when calling yourself a “feminist” became so abhorrent. When Meghan Trainor, the twenty-year-old pop star, was interviewed in Billboard magazine in September of 2014, she said, “I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world… It would be, ‘Love yourself more.’” When did love and feminism become mutually exclusive? Four months later, Kaley Cuoco, star of The Big Bang Theory, was interviewed by Redbook magazine. When asked if she were a feminist, she said, “I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.” When did rugged individualism overshadow women’s liberation?

For the majority of seventh grade, I walked around trying to emulate Posh Spice, holding two fingers apart and saying “girl power” to everyone who walked by. For the most part, I was simply obsessed with her sleek black dresses and the bejeweled platforms the other Spice Girls wore, but there was another part of me that felt excited and energized by how happy they were just to exist, just to be girls. At 26, I feel that more than ever, which is not to say that being a woman is always easy or fun.

This past year, one of my friends was raped by her friend in a gas station bathroom. Since then, two other of my friends have come forward with similar stories. When they went to the police, they were all asked the same question: are you sure it wasn’t consensual? I want my friends to know that while they might not receive the support they need from the judicial system, they will always find it in other women. When I had an abortion senior year of college, a flock of women came to my side. Five years later, one of those friends called me up asking for help going through her own experience. Women have spent decades fighting to be heard, and the more we talk about sexual violence or abortion or any other difficult time, the less power we give to it, and perhaps this is the strongest defense for feminism.

Recently, I’ve heard people declare themselves not as feminists, but rather, as humanists, which is very politically correct and very spineless. It’s akin to people who say #alllivesmatter in place of #blacklivesmatter. All lives do matter, but sexism and racism are prevalent, and focus should be given to those lives in particular that have been ignored or undermined. The definition of a feminist in 2015 is fluid and broad, just as the definitions of gender are ever expanding. Maybe feminism today is about unconditional support among increasing diversity. Third-wave feminism has taught us that the obstacles we’re up against today are different than those of the 1920s or the ’60s, but what remains is the need for a united front against inequality because that is women’s liberation at its finest.

LUCIA DIAZ-FRENCH received her B.A. with a focus in Playwriting from New York University. Her play, The Danderforth Phenomenon, had a staged reading as part of The Womens’ Writing Series at Urban Stages, New York. Her play, Demons, was part of a reading series at Baltimore’s Mobtown Players. Her poetry has been published in the literary journal, Artichoke Haircut. She has acted with Everyman Theatre, The Strand Theatre, Rep Stage, DC, Fells Point Corner Theatre as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, the Artist of Tomorrow Challenge, and the Kennedy Center as part of the Page To Stage Festival.

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