The F Word

Let’s say I approach a proud Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day and ask him if he’s going to celebrate by drinking a few dozen pints, having a brawl, and ending the night in the slammer.

Then on to my Mexican friend who I ask to include me the next time they eat refried beans and drink tequila while doing practice runs across the border.

I tell my Indian neighbor his mom smells like curry, and could he please get his cousin in Bangladesh to answer the damn tech help line already.

To my Jewish friends I ask how Palestinian babies’ blood tastes, and how many pennies can they hold in their ginormous noses while running the world’s media.

Are you appalled?

Outraged at my stereotypes and generalizations?

Disgusted at my lack of sensitivity?


Then tell me why women who work hard to have their voices heard and their concerns taken seriously, who prefer not be seen as T & A, who are teased about going to lesbian, nurse-in/bra burning festivals where men are burned in effigy, are expected to giggle.

And when we don’t laugh, we are told that we have no sense of humor.

In the first four scenarios, the speaker would be called a racist.

Only in the last one is the object of ridicule called the dirty word-  a feminist.

What is it inherent in women’s voices that cause them to be taken less seriously? What is it that makes our struggle and needs ‘funny’ or ‘mockable’? What brings out the eye-rolling?

What is it about society that encourages Beevis and Butthead wannabes to pitch an app called ‘Titstare’ at a major tech conference enabling users to ogle unsuspecting women’s chests? And in irony that could not be greater if it were fiction, they did so beside a 9 year old girl there to promote her own app. What do you think went through her mind when she watched their appalling pitch rife with sexist jokes and accompanying visuals?

Why were they there and why were they not booed off the stage?

Why is there no shame in degrading women?

And why, when women point out these things, are we told to ‘lighten up’ or ‘its no big deal’?

It may be that there are feminists that feel that women’s choices to stay home or take traditional roles are wrong and there even may be those few that are so extreme that they do actually ‘hate men’.

But we, the majority of men and women who identify as feminists (even closetly for fear of being ridiculed), just want women to have the same opportunities as men- meaning that all humans should be equal in their rights and opportunities.

I’d like to take the word back- well, I’d like the word not be needed at all- but until women are no longer depicted in most video games as erotic dolls in rags with body dimensions impossible for real life, until girls are no longer measured solely on their looks, until blond jokes aren’t the norm, until women aren’t ridiculed for standing up for themselves, until singing about rape isn’t considered music, until girls can feel safe in whatever they are wearing … until then I am a feminist.

And I bet you are too.

Let’s not be afraid of the F word. Let’s use it until its no longer needed.



About the Author
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is a writer and an activist. Cofounder of She loves her people enough to call out the nonsense. See her work at