Why is FEMINIST a dirty word?

Why is FEMINIST a dirty word?

I have been told that when I was born, my Lebanese grandfather threw down his hat in frustration as I was his sixth grand daughter in a row. He was a humble and wonderful man, and yet his reaction, which was shared in a lighthearted way, shows the underlying gender bias of our world.

This fact in itself was enough to ensure that I would be a lifelong feminist...and is only one incident in a lifetime of noticing that life is different for men that it is for women.

I was lucky to have older female cousins who paved the way for me. They were strong women who called themselves feminists with pride and made sure that I knew that there was a lot to be done to make the world an equal place.

And there are all those women who came before us, those who worked hard and sacrificed much so that we could vote, so that we could work, so that we could keep our names and our dignity.

And now for the younger generation somehow FEMINIST has become a dirty word. It is hard to know how this curious situation has eventuated. 

Do the young women of today exist in a vacuum, do they not understand the history of women, the history of struggle, the history of a fight that is still ongoing today?

Do they not know that tens of millions of young girls around the world are denied an education because of their gender? Do they not understand that throughout history women have been killed, and burned and ruined for demanding only their equality? And do they not know that for many women around the world, this struggle continues daily?

If the word feminist is a dirty word then we have a deep and serious problem.

The fact that many young women do not feel comfortable to call themselves feminists makes me feel angry - but underneath that anger is sadness and confusion as to why they would not want to embrace a word that relates only to the loving of themselves as women.

A feminist is not a woman who hates men, but a woman who loves herself and other women and who recognises the gender struggle for the mammoth battle that is was, and still is today.

The "me too" movement and all it symbolises is an extension of the feminist movement, and a wonderfully inclusive one. I hope that this is the start of the turning of the tide that I have been awaiting since my birth.

It has been a long hard struggle for us women, and the thousands of years of patriarchy weigh heavily on each one of us, whether we recognise it or not. We are survivors, and we have the collective scars to prove it.

I believe that we will not be able to heal our world until we gather to help each other heal the wounds of our collective grief. We have our mother nature who awaits our return, but to live in harmony with her we must first learn how to live in harmony with ourselves and each other and this takes inward focus, hard work and deep compassion for one another and our individual and collective struggles.

The intense times that we are now living through encourage us to feel our pain, to allow our grief and to acknowledge our vulnerability, as an important expression of our humanity.

When the sacred feminine energy that has been both vilified and disregarded for generations is given the respect and power it deserves, we will no longer need to call ourselves feminists. But until that time we have a duty to our mother earth and to each other to do what we can to bring a more balanced energy to our world.

Our young women are our future and I hope that we can show them the beauty and relevance of the word feminist and help them to understand the battles that have been won and those that still remain. 

And perhaps need to work harder to welcome them into a sisterhood that can support them and show them a way back to themselves, and to each other.

There is much work to be done, and yet at heart I am a feminist through and through - from my first day (when my gender led to my grandfather's disappointment) until my last, by which time I hope there is no longer such a need for the word and the movement.