Here’s the problem: Nobody likes the word “feminism.” It’s icky. It’s got a bad rap. Women (in general) don’t want to associate with it. “Me? A feminist? I believe in gender equality, but I’m not a man hater!” *sigh* Let’s look up “Feminism” in the dictionary, shall we? Webster’s dictionary states that “Feminism” is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Oh gee…they seem to have left out the “man hating” part. *rolls eyes*
So! With that in mind, herein lies the rub: Figuring out how to fight hidden sexism with hidden feminism, so that I don't immediately send people running in the opposite direction. (That wouldn’t be very conducive to spreading a message.) While many forms of the feminist movement need to be completely overt in their efforts in order to be successful, I believe that “stealth feminism” also has its place. There are many rational people who would agree that equal pay for equal work is fair, would agree that genital mutilation is wrong, and, in general, would agree on many pro-feminist ideals; but when confronted with the dreaded F-bomb, rationality flies out the window and resistance takes its place. This is the psychological phenomenon called Reactance: You tell someone to do something (i.e. consider an idea), and they refuse—not because they wouldn’t agree with the idea, but because they perceived you as bossy and they don’t like being bossed around.
And speaking of bossy, I must quote Tina Fey from her latest book “Bossypants.” In reference to an infamous Saturday Night Live sketch, where female politicians Palin and Clinton give a speech, she writes, “You all watched a sketch about feminism and you didn’t even realize it because of all the jokes. It’s like when Jessica Seinfeld puts spinach in kids’ brownies. Suckers!” I couldn’t have said it better. Tina Fey perfectly encapsulates my solution: Let’s hide the spinach in the brownies! Let’s hide feminism—something that is healthy and good, but unpleasant—inside fun and humor. It’s a simple, yet highly effective, solution.
Implementing this solution is the goal with my upcoming blog, Ms. Jane of All Trades. I wish to utilize “Stealth Feminism” as the weapon of choice against those sneaky, stealthy sexist messages that make their way into our heads. Our blog will be fun, informative, and useful—all while soft selling strong feminist examples that defy gender stereotypes.