Feminism: What’s in a Name?

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Slate’s XX Factor has a fascinating discussion about Sandra Day O’Connor’s passing on calling herself a feminist even though she totally is one. Need proof?

Do you call yourself a feminist?

I never did. I care very much about women and their progress. I didn’t go march in the streets, but when I was in the Arizona Legislature, one of the things that I did was to examine every single statute in the state of Arizona to pick out the ones that discriminated against women and get them changed.

So, ‘feminists’ march in the streets (which is bad) but don’t fight for a seat in government from which to focus on women’s equality? I ain’t mad at Sandra. The woman haters have worked very hard to make the word “feminism” synonymous with man- and baby-hating. With—gasp!—lesbianism and everything ‘unladylike’. With all that scary protesting and refusing to play nice. Ah well, I much prefer women (and men) who pass on the name but fight the power anyway. Sandra O is just in the closet but active as hell on the feminist down low. Works for me.

As a side note, SDO’C rocks as an interviewee. What a breath of fresh air to hear someone say, essentially, ‘Screw you. I’m pushing a majorly important new website and you want to talk about inanities. Shut the frack up (sorry—HUGE Battlestar Galactica fan), and let’s talk about what I agreed to talk about.’ Here’s a taste of that great old-chick no-nonsense:

Although you were nominated to the court by President Reagan, you became known as a centrist who disappointed conservatives and provided relief to liberals.

Look, that’s your spiel, not mine. I tried to decide each case based on the law and the Constitution.

Old feminists rock. Whatever they call themselves. BTW: if you’re not a feminist, what are you: anti-feminist?

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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