Beliefnet.com thinks the word “feminist” is offensive

Beliefnet.com, the epicenter of floofy new-agey protestant-esque “spirituality”, thinks that it’s readers will be offended by the word “feminism.”

Or at least that’s what they told Kristine Holmgren, a playwright, Presbyterian pastor, and journalist was asked by Beliefnet.com to blog for them. Holmgren wanted to call the blog “Feminist Pulpit Notes.” When that was vetoed by Sharon Kirk, Beliefnet.com’s marketing analyst, Holmgren suggested, “Sweet Truth – Thoughts of a Faithful Feminist.” Kirk responded that she loved “Sweet Truth”, but knew that beliefnet.com’s followers “are offended by that word.” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has the entire email exchange.

This seems incredibly hypocritical for a site that advertises itself as, “the most comprehensive online resource for inspiration and spirituality”.

As FAIR points out, Beliefnet.com’s entire board of directors is made up of men.

Sarah Morace-Brubaker, writing for Religion Dispatches, has a hilarious response:

What does surprise me is this: Evidently a non-trivial number of readers of Beliefnet out there are offended by the word feminist. They don’t just disagree with certain tenets of feminism (which is far from monolithic, btw). They don’t just think, “Eh, that’s not really my thing, but whatevs, I like the site anyway and there are zillions of other people to read there. Oh, say! I think I’ll take the ‘What religion are you?’ quiz again just to see if I’ve changed.” They don’t have an argument against its use. Apparently their fragile sensibilities can’t abide the appearance of word itself on their computer screens.

As in any time when feminist-bashing comes into vogue, Kate Beaton’s hilarious “Straw Feminists” is relevant.

As far as adding to this conversation, I can say is that Beliefnet.com’s sort of floofy, harmless, spirituality translates surprisingly well to hateful ideology. This isn’t terribly surprising – spirituality can be as effective as religion at making people hate. And contemporary “spirituality”, by being apathetic to the world, often scorns people who attempt to address and solve deep societal ills – such as feminists.

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