it was ever thus

The word feminism "had become a term of opprobrium to the modern young woman. [The word suggested either] the old school of fighting feminists who wore flat heels and had very little feminine charm, or the current speciies who antagonize men with their constant clamor about maiden names, equal rights, woman's place in the world, and many another cause, ad infinitum. If a blundering male assumes that a young woman is a feminist simply because she happens to have a job or a profession of her own, she will be highly - and quite justifiably insulted: for the word evokes the antithesis of what she flatters herself to be."

Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, 1927.

[As quoted in Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism by Susan Ware.]

Further proof - as if any were needed - that nothing is new under the sun. More proof, too, of why studying history helps us understand our world.


David Cho said...

Holy cow, that statement is from 1927?

laura k said...


Allan likes to post quotes from people complaining about baseball - how the players are all greedy, the game ain't the same as it used to be, back in my day... and it'll be from 1911. Or a near-riot in the stands, fans throwing bottles, running onto the fields to punch players and managers - in 1895. :-)

David Cho said...

Wow, black and white pictures from the old days show them in a suit and a tie as if they are attending the opera.

That shows us that we tend to have selective memories about those "good old days."

Sass said...

Honestly, I read it through and really was surprised, it sounds like it could have been said yesterday. It also sounds like it could have been said during the second wave.
What it really boils down to, then as much as now, young women internalize patriarchal values in such a way that they really do see feminists as crazy, as other, as weird and radical and off-putting. And they distance themselves from the movement for fear of displeasing men. Of being "frigid" or "bitchy." Really, it just shows how archaic and imbedded that notion of the "ugly hairy manhater" stereotype really is.

laura k said...

Well said, oh Sassy Feline. Well said.

The author actually quotes women from 1925 saying, "I'm not a feminist, but..."


"That shows us that we tend to have selective memories about those "good old days." "

Right. One of Allan's themes in his baseball history research and writing is showing that there never were good old days - that the game has always been a reflection of the times, both good and bad. I imagine the same is true of any human endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Tends to work that way for men, too. Those of us who support feminism are often ridiculed for it solely due to the misconceptions surrounding what the word actually means. Many of us simply call ourselves equalists instead so as to avoid the nasty stereotype that has unfortunately been applied to the other word. Not a real solution, but better than constantly fighting off idiots who know no better.

laura k said...

Equalist - makes sense to me. Some women use "womanist" (??) or "neo-feminist".

I take a different tack (no better, just different) of sticking stubbornly and proudly to the word feminist - then taking every opportunity to explain what it actually means. Either way, the distortion and misconception is rampant.

Cin said...

I actually prefer the word feminist - I come from a long line of latina feminists, and would consider it an insult to deny all that hard work and history.

Besides, I'm working to add to that history!

Sass said...

I also insist on "feminist", because I have a lot of slightly-clueless gamer boys as friends, and they look at me as "one of the guys" for the most part. So when I talk to them about feminism, they actually listen and don't just turn to the automatic uncomfortable/jokey/lame ass mode of behavior that guys use when they hear the word. One of them likes to point out when someone says something anti-woman or offensive and say, "dude, that's not cool. We're feminists. We're not going to put up with that shit." Isn't that adorable?

Anonymous said...

It is. Wish I had that support here. But sadly my group (okay in their own right - not intolerant by any stretch) still resort to the lameass jokes around the word.

Yet, drop in equalist, and no problem, they get it and listen. That's actually how the word started for me, a test to find what these guys might respond to. If it works, might as well use it. Same basic reasoning and meaning, the way I use it, anyway.

Guess the point is that it's not the word, it's the meaning it conveys, and that is conferred in how it is used. So, until the stereotypologists (as I call them) get around to assigning new lameass jokeworthy meanings to 'equalist', I'll keep using it as it gets the job done in a manner less offensive to smaller-minded men.

laura k said...

I love knowing women who call themselves feminists. Cin and Sassycat (and, I strongly suspect, Crabletta), you are all making me so happy!

I also love knowing non-sexist men, whatever they call themselves. I personally am proud to call myself a feminist, but it's the belief in full equality that's important.

And I love knowing people who come up with ways to educate without alienating, and if the word equalist does it, then it's a fucking great word.

"One of them likes to point out when someone says something anti-woman or offensive and say, "dude, that's not cool. We're feminists. We're not going to put up with that shit." Isn't that adorable?"

Love it!


I love this too. I've been reading about Egyptologists, but this is even more interesting.