My favourite feminists

Last night I finally watched the HBO documentary, Gloria, In Her Own Words for the first time. It was informative, funny, touching and inspiring and it set me to thinking about feminism and who were some of the women who helped shape my view of it.

I know we owe a great debt to, what is now termed the first wave of feminism. Women like Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Astell, Catharine Beecher, Fredrika Bremer and Simone de Beauvoir. However, just like in my last post about atheists, I wanted to keep my choices contained to women who are still alive and contributing to the conversation.


“If you say, I’m for equal pay, that’s a reform. But if you say. I’m a feminist, that’s a transformation of society.”

A woman who’s name is synonymous with the word feminist. Ms. Steinem is the co-founder of MS. Magazine as well as a key player in feminism’s second wave, starting in the 1960’s. As a journalist and activist, Ms. Steinem  has helped to change the way North American women are treated in society. She continues to fight for women’s rights worldwide to this day. In her words, it all starts with an outrageous act.


“To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.”

While she may be primarily known for her work in the civil rights movement, make no mistake about it, Angela Davis was, is and always will be a feminist. She was the first woman to run for Vice president of the United States, in 1980 and again in 1984 (on the communist party USA ticket). Ms. Davis is the former director of the feminist studies department at the University Of California, Santa Cruz. Her tireless efforts for the cause of human rights in all forms shows no signs of slowing down. Here she is talking with another pioneer of the civil rights movement, Yuri Kochiyama.


“All societies on the verge of death are masculine. A society can survive with only one man; no society will survive a shortage of women.”

Australian author of the Female Eunich, Germaine Greer is widely regarded as one of the most significant voices of feminism’s second wave. She is a self described anarchist and wonderfully opinionated feminist as you will see in the two clips below. I’ve included a clip from 1971 and one from 2010 where she is being interviewed by two different men in order to illustrate just how much male hostility still lingers. Both interviewers employ various tactics in order to belittle her and her ideas.


“If you live in rock and roll, as I do, you see the reality of sex, of male lust and women being aroused by male lust. It attracts women. It doesn’t repel them.”

Her brand of feminism started as a backlash to what she was seeing as a puritanical viewpoint. Ms. Paglia is a self professed sex positive feminist. A feminist who believes that women need not blame men, but take responsibility for their own lot in life and depend on themselves to better it. As an author,teacher and social critic, Ms. Paglia’s feminist view was a kick in the proverbial pants to what feminism was becoming at the time. Always controversial, Camille Paglia never fails to tell it like it is.

These are some of the women who’s ideas about what it means it be a feminist helped me come to my own understanding of the word and the movement. It’s because of these women that I realize just how important it is to keep feminism moving forward into generations to come. With that in mind, I encourage young women to get involved in Women’s Rights, because that’s what feminism is, making sure women worldwide have the same rights as men.

If you are looking for a role model that you can relate to, may I suggest this next young woman.


“One may be nice on the outside but on the inside isnt pretty”

The daughter of Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), Rebecca Walker is an author and a pioneer in feminism’s Third Wave and has been named by Time magazine as one of the 50 future leaders of America.

I’d like to leave you with a video produced by an organization called The Feminist Majority that I found inspiring. If you want to get involved in the fight for Women’s Rights, their website is a good place to start.