Feminism is not just a social movement, it’s a cultural idea. Like any cultural idea, what it really is is contested by different interest groups in society who put forward their own interpretation and try to undermine the interpretations of others.  For example, Rush Limbaugh’s coining of the term “femi-nazi” was a highly successful move in the long-standing contest over who feminists are and what they believe.  Indeed, most young women today believe that women and men are equal and yet do not identify themselves as feminists.  This is partly because they think of feminists as hirsute, combat-boot-wearing, man-hating lesbians.  Is this what feminists want young women to think?  Certainly not.  Instead, it suggests that feminists lost control over the definition of feminism. 

In this spirit, I offer you this clip of Limbaugh talking about the left’s objection to Sarah Palin’s candidacy for Vice President (found here).  I offer it not to be partisan, but as an excellent example of this contest (see also this example and this satirical take on defining feminism).

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