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FEMINISM: Myth v. Reality
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Well, it's time for another instalment of know-it-all answers to questions nobody asked.

This time we'll take a look at an issue that seems to leave many perplexed, and which makes others decidedly uncomfortable. We will plumb the depths of just what, exactly, is this mysterious, alluring creature called a feminist?

"Feminist" is just another innocent little word that has been co-opted and demonised by those with divergent political aims, like "liberal" or "conservative."

Rest assured, most of the men you know (and all the good ones) are feminists too. Bless their hearts.

There are probably as many definitions of the term as there are people who subscribe to its tenets. There is no single definition, but there are a few common misperceptions.

Myth: Feminists are humourless and unfeminine, possibly with unsightly hair growth.
Reality: We are gorgeous!

Why? I suspect it's because the aesthetically challenged among us feel we must be spineless and insipid in order to attract the men that don't get it either. Either that or these ladies are choosing to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot — and are thus not very bright.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brigitte Bardot could just flip her hair, wink at us, and say pertly, "I'm a feminist!" — and she'd get no argument.

According to the Random House College Dictionary, "feminism" is defined as "advocating social and political rights for women equal to those of men." Pretty radical stuff. Now hold it right there lil' ladies, before you run completely hog-wild. Please keep in mind that "social and political equality" does not mean sameness.

I mean, what right-thinking woman-girl would want to do all the things a man "traditionally" does? All that shaving and heavy lifting. Not to mention wearing a boring suit every time you should be having a moment to shine in your finest. We can be equal, yet different. But it's a human quirk: the moment we perceive two things are different, we immediately begin to wonder which one is better. This tendency has been called "ranking diversity," and is a faulty — and simplistic — view of the world.

Which is better: a Mai tai or a Pina Colada? A kangaroo or a polar bear? Mars or Venus?

Another myth debunked: Women are not a "minority," as the press repeatedly - and mistakenly - refers to us. We make up 51-52% of pretty much every demographic on the planet, and much more in conflict areas, for obvious reasons. That said, looking out for your own social and political interests seems to get a bad rap these days. Of course there's nothing wrong with women staying home to cook and clean and raise the children ("the 3 Cs"), if that's what our hearts desire. But it's all about choice — that cornerstone of freedom. One can certainly choose to do so, but one should not be denied other options.

So do not be afraid — every woman worth her salt is a feminist, and this does not make you unfeminine (which would, apparently, be an unforgivable sin). Understanding that, as a
woman, one at times has somewhat different socio-political interests from men is a good thing. Variety, the spice of life!

- Questions? Dilemmas? Missed Manners professes to be a wealth of random tips, social and otherwise. No question too small, no inquiry too profound. Please send questions and musings to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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