What is feminism?


I was listening to NPR the other morning and Annie Lenox was being interviewed. She was asked about her reaction to all the new videos featuring and shall we say, glorifying the ever beautiful, ample ass.  Her answer was, “twerking is not feminism.” I had to agree.

When I was growing up in New York in the 70’s and 80’s, all my mom’s friends worked, mostly in fashion, writing, designing, editing and graphics. They all had kids, husbands, pets and laundry. Most of them cooked dinner in their coats after taking the subway or bus home and they managed to go to the PTA and throw a fabulous dinner party on the weekends, Chateauneuf du pape, roasted leg of lamb, et al.

I didn’t know they were superwomen, although I did know that they believed they were equal to men in every way, minus the extra hair. It was a given that a woman would have a serious career and that her talents and smarts were of course just as valid as any man’s. They did however, also do the food shopping and cooking and decorating albeit, most had a housekeeper for cleaning and linen changes.

At dinner every night, my brother and I as kids, were asked regularly how our day was, what we were doing in out lives, did we know that many other kids didn’t have what we had. And we were asked our opinions on everything. Did we like what we were eating, watching on tv, our teachers, friends, friend’s parents? And we answered. We grew up knowing our opinions mattered. We knew about the civil rights movement and twice a year packed up all extra toys and clothing and sent them down south to an organization that helped families in need. So although I was very aware of the plight of some women and the equal pay issues as well as the question of equal respect and honor, I had confidence in my own thoughts and basic self. I knew I counted and would easily voice my gripes. I’ve never felt less than a man. I am weak in certain areas, hate driving on the freeway and money investments and long winded contracts give me hives. But what I’m good at, I rock.

Maybe feminism is about teaching children and young women to develop their own voice and to genuinely like themselves. I hate that men still get paid more and that there’s never been an American woman president. And I know some young girls and middle aged women will always need affirmation and adoration for showing as much skin as they can legally get away with in public. I also know that I don’t need to show my nipples or butt cheeks to strangers, to feel hot. A silky blow dry, the perfect shade of red lips and the just right, cool pair of heals are enough for me to turn heads. And those few heads are just enough in that category to press my I-still-got-it button, and I honor that need. But hands down, the most important feminist character we have is our brain. Annie is right. It doesn’t take a good brain to twerk.

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