Our New Columnist Margaret Cho Speaks Out On Why Calling Yourself a Feminist Is More Important Now Than Ever

Feminism debates are blowing up everywhere (including here) of late. So we asked Margaret Cho to kick off her new role as contributor to xoJane by explaining exactly what the label means to her.

Nov 8, 2012 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

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Photo courtesy of Ken Phillips

[This is what Margaret sent us when we asked her to contribute to that series I was telling you about involving our individual takes on feminism (can you tell that I have not yet named this series? any ideas more than welcome!). I love and thank her for it. Love you, too. ]

Why am I a feminist? I just am, and I haven’t really questioned it.

There are always women who like to say they are not feminists -- famous, successful, courageous and powerful woman at that(!) -- but, then, those women who say that have made their voices heard across the globe, over time, loudly and clearly, and that probably couldn’t have happened without a great deal of help from feminism, and I guess technology.

When I was a young girl, I never heard about feminism, even though it was at its height and heyday, when women burned their bras and parted their hair in the middle and called out for revolution. They read books about it with bubbly fonts on the cover. They started collectives where they would teach each other how to care for their bodies. They spent almost all their time learning to not be afraid.

After awhile, they were no longer afraid, but just burning up with anger, so much that they had to set their bras on fire. They had to show how much patriarchy had hurt them, and all women. This was courageous and exciting; I am sure if I were there I would have wept with joy and rage.

I wish I had been able to participate in this. I can only read about it now, wondering how much was lost to biased reports and people not getting it.

It would have been a struggle for me to burn my bra, though. I love lingerie, and bras are my favorite. The lacy architecture is a tribute to the beauty of women’s bodies. Bras, for me, have never been about anyone else but me, and maybe that is the patriarchy working within me, but I have always liked bras and I kind of don’t care why. Not a girdle though. That is straight-up torture if you ask me. Boobs up, belly out –- that is my motto.

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Courtesy of Ken Phillips.

There are some things that are attributed to feminism that I don’t believe are inherent to it, like puritanical attitudes toward sex and a general distrust of the trappings of stereotypical, idealized beauty. A feminist may or may not feel these things. We are all different, as women are different.

All I know is that as a woman, in my work, and in my life, I have been treated as if my achievements were less valuable because they were borne from my body. I only know this because I have worked closely, been intimate with, risen and fallen with men of all kinds. I have done the same with women of all kinds –- and my assessment, of all the humanity I have experienced: Women get the short end of it.

So therefore, my feminism -- it’s kind of necessary. I don’t want to feel like I am less than anyone, and so I have to label myself in order to be ready for the fight.

I don’t want young girls to fear the word feminism, because they will desperately need it out in the world, and to fear what will help you, make you stronger, better, happier -– it makes no sense.

Sometimes women say they are not feminist in order to be closer to men, to side with men, to be one of the "guys," but I think being feminist, and therefore calling yourself equal to men is the truer, more sincere way of being closer to men, because you are telling men that they don’t have to do everything anymore, that you will gladly split the burden of the earth, which weighs on us all, regardless of how our bodies are made.

Read more Margaret at http://margaretcho.com