Feminism--reclaiming language

SLForsburg notmyaddress at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 15 03:21:47 EST 2001


Looking at my previous post (which of course was too hastily written), I

realize that one of the most important lessons that we  have
learned in the last 25 years is how language can be reclaimed.

Those who demonized feminism in the 70s and 80s, as I wrote, considered
feminists to be shrews, bitches, and lesbians.  My point was that those
were
consisdered negative terms, which were used  to try to scare young women

into the status quo.  Those words were weapons (and some people still
try to use them that way).

But we are redefining words from the negative to the positive and
growing up along the way. Words are only weapons if we let them be;
they can also be shields of strength, or badges of
honor.  The  African American community and gay movement
have each reclaimed hurtful words and symbols, and
the feminist movement  is doing it too.  As Linnea pointed out, women's
rights are civil rights, and naturally allied with the fight for
equality of all
minorities.

Feminists ARE shrews (industrious creatures), bitches (female canids
known for
strong social instincts) and  lesbians.  They are also doves and
hawks, straight and bisexual, mothers and daughters, single  and
married, and
every color and class.  My point was that we now can
proudly claim all these words,  and the community they  represent ,
as positive and affirming--a rainbow of possibilities.   Which means
"they" can
call me whatever "they" want.  :-)

Maybe that's the difference between being 18 and being 38.

--susan

--
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S L Forsburg, PhD
Associate Professor
The Salk Institute
forsburgATsalk.edu

"These are my opinions.  I don't have time to speak for anyone else."


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