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Being Called a Feminist is Not Derogatory Unless it’s Spit at You

by Lisa Gerard Braun 3 months ago in feminism

Turning from embarrassed to proud in just a few minutes

Image by blkjohn67 from Pixabay

I was today years old when I had an eye-opening understanding that brought relief.

My epiphany?

Feminism = Advocating for Gender Equality

I am of a generation that regarded feminism much differently from the actual meaning. Please forgive me for being confused all these years. No girl, young woman, or even professional adult who I knew of in my age bracket or up-bringing wanted to be labeled as such back then. It was deemed distasteful, extreme, and pitted men and women against each other.

Somehow, when I was very young, being a feminist was communicated to me as denigrating. Maybe I just received information and my brain translated the word feminism to man-hater. When people carelessly discounted a woman’s opinion, it was hissed, she’s just a feminist.

Next, she’ll host a bra-burning. That’s what radical dykes do, you know.

Yes, the hate was that obvious.

I was young, developing my personal opinions, very impressionable, and once misinformation solidified in my brain, I moved on. There was never a time that I thought I needed to fix the wrongs in my head.

Until recently, that is, when someone I hold in high esteem casually remarked that I am a feminist.

I was startled but non-reactive in front of them. This needed to be assessed on my own so I could think about that statement. I needed to dissect it, unravel it, massage it in my brain, and figure out why it sounded mean. It would be out of character for them to be anything but gracious and uplifting. That caused me to want to investigate. Was it a compliment?

You bet it was.

Once alone, I was momentarily embarrassed at my years of ignorance. I was immediately struck by the realization that I hadn’t researched feminism. I didn’t know the origin of or even the actual definition of the word. For 57 years, I lived my life in a cloud of misunderstanding without knowing.

Just a click away and the Oxford Dictionary supplied this succinct information:


- the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

Though the timeline for legalizing women’s rights dates back to 1701, I wasn’t born yet. I don’t recall women’s history as part of the school curriculum. Looking back at Roe v. Wade in 1973, I was 9 years old when that case was decided. In my formative years, newsworthy stories I may have been exposed to were predominately related to equality in employment. There was a lot of legal activity regarding maternity leave and finding it constitutional to ban women from the draft.

This was of interest to me, this intense and detailed framework because I could not pinpoint any issue of standing up for basic, logical equalities that should cast negativity on women or minorities.

How did equality get such a bad name? How, too, did feminism?

Feminism = Advocating for Gender Equality

I am a HUGE fan of, a big believer in, and I champion the cause, of equality. I always have been so, and I always will be. It was second nature for me to assume the position of advocate for the underdog. I elbowed my way into areas where I wasn’t invited and gave the forsaken a lift up. It was never a question for me to voice support and encouragement.

Sitting quietly and witnessing injustices, unfair practices, and gender imbalances, was not my style. I was, and am, a cheerleader in life, fairness, and kindness.

Who knew I have always been like the poster child of feminism?

No, I will not burn my bra. (I do not wear one and haven’t for years.)

No, I do not hate men. (I love maleness, testosterone, and their companionship.)

Generalizations of group mentalities are problematic. Feminist groups, like all other organized causes, have varying degrees in how the individuals involved present themselves.

The thought that all feminists hate men because they want recognition and equality, is preposterous.

It is simply not true. Misperceptions derailed me for 5 decades.

Feminism = Advocating for Gender Equality

The actual meaning of feminism has nothing to do with hate at all.

Feminism has everything to do with equality. Positivity.

From a young age, my mom identified my need to save those downtrodden for any reason. She would tell me how I gravitated to any birds with broken wings. It’s true. Sufferers of injustice didn’t have to wait long for me to appear by their side and offer an assist.

Later in life, I was drawn to work-related and volunteer organizations that were male-dominated. My frustrations would stem from being pooh-poohed. Looking back, many times that I was hired were based on presenting the image at the proverbial front door. I was oblivious and naively believed they appreciated my intelligence and work ethic.

However, my role, again and again, was to lure business in and let the men close the deal. I hated feeling reduced to fluff. My intelligence mattered and I wanted to use it.

Invariably, within very short periods, my brain and propensity to verbalize new ideas, would become a cog in the wheel. Their wheel.

My life has been one of fighting and enlightening the old boy network.

Disparate worlds of why I was hired would crash into each other. I would persevere. I am a soft-sell kind of girl and whittle away at poor behavior by guiding, informing, and inconspicuously showing the wrong-doers to the proper road.

The road of equality.

I dug through some of my previous articles to have a hard look at my viewpoints. Funny that I reference many aspects of my life experiences that have to do with oppression and unfair treatment ~ finding ways to promote equality.

You know, feminism.


Feminism = Advocating for Gender Equality

I am a feminist and I couldn’t be more proud.

Who knew?


Lisa Gerard Braun

I am a freelance writer, blogger, and most importantly a grandmother raising my 3 year old grandson. Visit my site of inspirational stories, personal growth, and real-life views of my journey ~ you are not alone.

Read next: To The Woman With The Heart of a Dragon

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