Financial feminism is having a moment lately. Or maybe it’s just me. First, there was the invitation from Ms. Zi You to participate in her financial feminism series. And then, in my inbox landed a copy of Femme Frugality’s new Feminist Financial Handbook (affiliate link), going live today.
Interestingly, for someone who’s the family breadwinner, who writes about women and money online, interviews successful women, and generally is a champion for women – I’ve never really labeled myself as a feminist.
What Is Feminism, Anyway?
Given all this financial feminism discussion underway, I decided to look up what exactly a feminist is. Sounds silly, right? Honestly it’s not something I’ve looked up before. And from what Wikipedia tells me:
“Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes”.
Well, I totally agree with that statement. The fact that women (all women) should have the same opportunities as men is almost a “duh” moment for me. Obviously I think that.
If it weren’t for the suffragettes fighting for the right to vote, women still wouldn’t be able to vote. This is called “first wave” feminism.
If it wasn’t for the women in the 60’s and 70’s fighting for equal rights at work, I couldn’t be the breadwinner of my family of five today. In fact, I’d probably have to be a stay at home mom while my husband supported us. This would have been a huge issue during his near-death and disability, and I don’t even know what kind of lifestyle we would lead. Not a nice one, I can tell you that. This is referred to as “second wave” feminism.
And there are the women of more modern times, the third and fourth wave feminists, fighting for other rights for women. Both for women who have been traditionally underrepresented in the prior feminist movements, as well as for full equality (instead of the “mostly equal” style equality we have now).
Feminism And Me…Or Not Me
When I grew up, in the 80’s and 90’s (I’m 38 for those that don’t know), no one called themselves a feminist.
Feminism was associated with the women of the 60’s and 70’s who burned bras, and wore shirts saying things like this:
Generally they were very…outright with their demands. Long hair and protests were involved. Drugs too? I’m not sure, but given the decades, would not be surprised.
In the 80’s and 90’s, I don’t remember anyone protesting anything. Women were “equal”ish, in that they could theoretically be equal but mostly were not. No one that I knew had something like a stay at home dad. Certain career fields (usually the highest paying ones) were dominated by men, and others (lower paying ones) by women. As a kid, I didn’t really think much about what people were being paid, but I’m sure it wasn’t equal.
Since I thought of feminism as something in the past, it’s not a label I ever really applied to myself. The thought brought an image of extremism that I didn’t feel a connection with. Yes, I thought women should be equal. That was only logical to me. But I wasn’t going to burn my bra over it.
That old feminist image is likely why I’ve not really felt the label “feminist” applied to me, despite my being a champion of women everywhere. I still have the old image from my childhood in mind.
Learning About Financial Feminism
This experience, and my perspective, was one of the reasons I was interested to read the new book, and check out the interview questions. Although I know that I believe strongly in equality for women, I don’t know a lot about third and fourth wave feminists. Heck, when Ms. Zi You sent me the questions, I got stumped on the one that asked about my brand of feminism. I didn’t know there were brands?
If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll have noticed that I love learning new things. So honestly, I was excited and interested to learn more about the topic of feminism in general, and financial feminism in particular.
This is where the new Feminist Financial Handbook (affiliate link) came in handy. Since I consider myself a feminism newbie, I read through the book with great interest. And I wasn’t disappointed.
In the book, Brynne tackles some of the hard facts about the world we live in. Although women in general still have a ways to go to achieve equality, women of certain backgrounds and situations have even longer to go. I was introduced to the concepts of “Intersectional Feminism” and “Kyriarchy”, which I was not familiar with. Other ideas, like “Heteronormativity”, “Cisnormativity”, and “Disablism” are things I’ve seen around the internet, but had no deep knowledge of.
Reading this book, even for a champion of women such as myself, was extremely educational. Not only was my mind opened to new ways of seeing the world, and new concepts, but I learned about the situations faced by people who I don’t often see featured in financial books.
You may recall my passion for diverse financial stories – this book has that in spades. Be sure to check it out.
Although I’m still not certain what I could call my brand of feminism (suggestions welcome in the comments), I feel a bit more comfortable saying that I am one. I believe women have made much progress over the last hundred years, but now it’s our job to continue the progress for the next generations. And that means for all women.