Feminism is not a Four Letter Word

I started writing this letter as a response to the utterly ridiculous article “A Stand From a Man.” Then, my curiosity sparked, I searched The Cynic website to find the “Sex and The Cynic” article(s) being mentioned. I now sit writing this letter in response to something a little different. I want to make one thing clear before I begin: I am no longer spending my time writing a letter on the “Man” article. That, however, is not my way of excusing the thing written by Mr. Eric Freedman. That article was absurd. Mr. Freedman, no woman likes abuse. What I would like to say is simple. “Sex and The Cynic’ is not a feminist column. It is at best a low-level imitation of the fictitious column created by HBO. I do not mean to insult your work Ms. Tor, the facts are the facts. In the article, “What Ever Happened to Chivalry?” Ms. Tor comments that her column has been referred to as “the feminist papers” and “feminist crap.” This is no surprise. The words “feminist,” “feminism,” and even “feminine” are widely misunderstood and misused. I would love to have the time to provide those reading with a rich, healthy and complete understanding of and some contextual uses for these words. To my misfortune, and yours as well, I’ve not the time. That alone, the volume and depth of the available vernacular with which one can speak on “feminism” etc, should be an indication of the integrity of feminism, feminists, feminist work and study. These words connote so much more than angry, frustrated, embittered women and men. And they certainly do not apply to the musings of Ms. Tor. To make “Sex and The Cynic” feminist, one would be required to change so much. The first major change would be the perspective. Many feminists do work that focuses on alternative perspectives; observing and commenting on the world from a place of feminist sociological education. For example, all of the articles from the column that I read (admittedly I have not read all, but one can only read so much of it) were written strictly from her heterosexual experience. “It’s Friday night. Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl flirt while getting more and more drunk. Boy and Girl go home together, and hook up. This continues for a few weekends. Finally, Boy asks Girl to go steady, through a text message.” This is a quote from one of Ms. Tor’s articles. I can say with some authority, albeit self-proclaimed, that this is neither the work nor writing of feminism. There are so many things about the column that must be changed in order to call it feminist. I’ll give Ms. Tor’s column one kudo, well alright- two. 1. She’s a woman writing a regularly printed column for a college newspaper. 2. She’s writing a regularly printed column that attempts to broach a mildly taboo subject. I say mildly because we are at a University. And I am certainly not trying to suggest that her work should be different. It is what she makes it. What exhausts me is the negativism feminists are subjected to. It is exactly the misinterpretation of Ms. Tor’s column that encourages this negativism. It is ignorance and it is frustrating. This semester I organized UVM V-Day 2006 and three performances of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.” We raised nearly $9,000. A portion went to a national charity and the majority of it went to local charity. That is feminist work. A very good friend of mine is President of a feminist organization on this campus. Last year she organized a Take Back the Path Walk in response to the sexual and gender related violence that frequents this campus. That is feminist work. Writing as a woman for a college newspaper could also be feminist work, if one makes it feminist. Feminism is not a negative thing. It is empowering, based on improving living conditions for all of society on multi-national levels. It does not exist to put men down or to make things difficult for “conservatives.” We do good things. Stop insulting us. Stop using our name as an insult to others. Stop equating us to excrement. Please.