Parenting

It's time we all embraced the F-word

Nadine defends the F-word. No, not that one. And not Funny either. Feminism. Oh, did you cringe a little?

So I’m about to prattle on about the F-word. No, not that one. And not Funny either. Feminism. Oh, did you cringe a little? It has that effect on people. I’ll say it a few times fast so you get over it: feminismfeminismfeminism.

I was raised in an Armenian-Canadian household, with some fairly typical Middle-Eastern values when it came to women. When I would ask why my dad was not expected to participate in a chore I was assigned, it was not uncommon to hear the response, “Because he’s a man!” As a child, my mother once told me that feminists were no good, because they hated men and didn’t shave their armpits. Out of spite or smarts (depends who you ask), I grew up to be one anyway.

To complicate matters for my mom, even though I’m a feminist (who waxes her armpits if you needed to know), I loved and married a man, and then birthed and loved a son — both of whom are feminists, whether they know it or not.

Feminism is not a dirty word. We need to hug the F-word and give it some love. We need to make our family members and friends accept it and enjoy their feisty daughter, mom, sister or pal who goes on long rants about pay inequity, glass ceilings and ingrown hairs.

So on my internet travels this week, I was overjoyed and dismayed by the following:

* Micah Toub’s sweet piece in the Globe called “It’s time boys learn the F-word,” where he interviews today’s teens and finds that boys still have a long way to go when it comes to embracing the feminine. Toub suggests “Feminism is good for guys too.” I completely agree. Just ask any boy or man who has always felt like the odd guy out because he’s not a sports fan or because he shares his feelings (I’m looking at you, husband and son).

* My joy at this idea was trumped by the news that the star of Bridesmaids (which you should see if you haven’t) Kristen Wiig, was named GQ magazine’s Bro of the Year in their Men of the Year issue. What an amazing leap forward, I thought. Then I clicked through to find Wiig outfitted in a bra and panties, with a mock-sexy-funny pose. What? Why can’t she just be funny? Why does her sexiness have to be part of the big picture?

Do we think so lowly of men that for them to consider Wiig their wingman she needs to be half naked? Does it work because it’s funnier that she’s actually hot? Am I over-reacting? (Feel free to jump in at any time.)

My friend Kelli Catana brought up the point that we seem to be OK with shirtless Bradley Coopers and Brad Pitts as Sexiest Men of the Year. And while I agree that there’s a bit of a double standard there, Sexiest Man and Bro of the Year aren’t in the same category. Pretty sure GQ‘s Comic Genius of the Year, Louis C.K. isn’t in his underwear looking like a sex kitten. (However Knockout of the Year, Mila Kunis, is.)

Interestingly, GQ‘s August 2011 Kunis cover story bore a photo of the actress in a bikini with the headline “And she’s funny too.” Oh wow! Amazing! We can be hot AND funny? And it’s OK? Quick! Let me tell my four year old daughter! (And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll call my mom, too.)

My colleague Emily, recently wrote about Miss-Representation, a documentary that focuses on the objectification of women in the media that has started a new dialogue around feminism. I’m really glad that the F-word is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, because as the parents of both daughters and sons, and as human beings, it absolutely matters. Until women can legitimately be seen as bros without having to show their panties, we’ve got a lot more F-ing fighting to do.

FILED UNDER: