Is the Term “Feminist” Sexist?

The quality of writing in Inside Higher Ed has become so poor that I am now convinced the publication is run by a bunch of academia-haters who want to make all academics look like brainless flakes. See the following excerpt, for example:

I’m most concerned with the knee-jerk negative response to the word feminist among otherwise liberal (particularly women) students. Recently a conversation with my brother got me thinking about the term in a different way. My brother, also a social scientist who’s pursuing his PhD, replied to a comment I made about gender inequalities in academia with “there’s no room in my academia for sexism.” That’s nice, I replied, but far from the reality of the situation–I jokingly quipped, “of course you think that; you’re a man.”

No, he replied, you’ve got it wrong. The word “feminist,” he argued, is itself sexist, and further divides women from men, which is counter to what you’re trying to achieve. Given that I know that my brother really does believe that women are equal to men, I decided to think carefully about his point.

No, lady, your brother despises women. And so do you because this “I was confused about something but then a man appeared and explained things to me, so now I see the light” is the trademark of every self-hating woman out there. So please, take your fake concern about the future of feminism, your sexist of a brother, and your impotent brain away from people whom you embarrass with your utter lack of analytical skills.

Yet, the flake persists in proving she is even more flaky than we could have suspected:

Is the word “feminist”—with its root in “feminine” (or rather, the French féminisme)—a sexist term? I considered other “isms” that reflect exclusions: racism, classism, ageism, and ableism (and the list does go on…).

This is a very curious choice of “isms”, given that one could have easily chosen heroism, socialism, individualism, capitalism, realism, modernism, atheism, agnosticism, or my favorites – literary criticism and Hispanism. If a couple of words ending in -ism refer to something negative, this doesn’t mean that all such terms do. One would think that  professor at Northeastern U would know that all poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles, but no such luck, it seems.

So to answer the title question, no, the word “feminism” is not sexist. Unless you consider the existence of females an act of sexism on the part of nature, God, universe, or whatever it is you believe in.

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15 comments on “Is the Term “Feminist” Sexist?

  1. I swear some people are literally trying to start a real life Women Hater’s Club, like in The Three Stooges! I hate it when people waste time trying to overanalyze words and make themselves look foolish as a result. Right on, Clarissa!

    For some reason, I was also thinking of the theatrical cartoons “Olive Oyl for President” and “Betty Boop for President” when I saw this post.

  2. “One would think that professor at Northeastern U would know that all poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles, but no such luck, it seems.”

    Bwhahaha! I nearly spit my coffee on that one.

    It appears that the world will do anything to undermine feminism.

  3. People are going to end up with the stew they cook for themselves. Childish women and men who do not know how to relate to each other do not make happy relationships. Attacking feminism is like a mindless act of self-harm. One might not feel it immediately, but it will undermine one’s well being in the future.

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