Illness does not discredit your feminism, whether it's related to your brain, your reproductive tract, your pancreas, your kidneys, or any other organ.


Ditto to Hexy. And I'd say that real strength comes from respecting our own vulnerability and giving it some space, too (instead of denying it and trying to be "strong").


HF, thank you for these posts. I've worked as a therapist for over 20 years, and my clients have been no more "disturbed" or "irrational" than people who don't enter therapy--they are just more focused on taking responsibility for the parts of their life that aren't working, and finding ways to change them. In that sense, I would say that feminism DOES drive many women into therapy,in that it has enhanced our sense of agency in the world, and the conviction that our issues are legitimate and worthy of attention.

Failing to seek help for a psychological issue is not a sign of strength or independence, any more than failing to seek medical attention for a broken leg or cardiac condition would be.

Barbara P

I remember hearing someone once claim that all the radical feminists he knew had in some way been badly mistreated by the men in their lives (sexually abused, etc.) and that was their main motivator. (His intention in this statement was to discredit feminism.)

I disagreed with the idea that all feminists are motivated by such extreme personal experience (i.e. beyond day-to-day sexism). But I can understand that many probably are, and IMHO, their feminism is a positive response to the suffering they endured. They had suffered, and they're taking steps to prevent that suffering from happening to others.

Imagine if we told parents whose baby died from SIDS that they should just be quiet and stop trying to raise awareness of that issue, because they can't be properly objective about it. It's a completely nonsensical reaction, just as nonsensical as hushing the women who've suffered the worst of sexism!


I love the name of your blog. It's one of the things that hooked me and has made me a regular. And I agree with you that it is offensive and absurd that because patriarchy inflicts psychological harm on us, the very harm done gives anti-feminists an excuse to trivialize what we have to say about that harm. It's a classic double bind.

I also appreciate your openness. I was in counselling for six years, and am so glad I took that step, as resentful as I was at the time that I had to have counselling because of the harm that had been done to me. It was one of the smartest things I ever did, and I'm still glad about it. I learned a lot about myself, and gained tools that help me to this day.

I see the steps you are taking as a sign of strength, not weakness. Sexism and abuse are features of a patriarchical, authoritarian system, which functions through intimidation, by isolating and terrorizing women and minorities and children into submission. Being intimidated and terrorized (and ridiculed and harassed...) takes a heavy toll. Identifying how those mechanisms operated on us in our past, especially in our families of origin, helps us free ourselves from the old scripts we've been following.


Shawna R. B. Atteberry

I have clinical depression, so I understand. I have done both therapy and spiritual direction, and I found both invaluable.


A Rose by any other name...

"The name "Happy Feminist" is also meant to convey an upbeat, optimistic approach...
...the basic flavor of this site is meant to be positive."

Yes, I picked up on that straight away, although, in a sense, you are really more like
The Joyful Feminist, since happiness depends on ones circumstances, whereas joy is more
a quality of the soul that comes from an inner peace with God.
(i.e. I can, and am, joyful in all situations, even the bad ones =>)

However, The Joyful Feminist would lack the punch of the Happy Feminist
since people would miss the connection to the Happy Housewife, etc. =D


I love the name and tone of this blog. I find it discouraging when some feminists don't want to acknowledge how much we've accomplished, for fear that it will sound xenophobic (admitting that women have more rights in western countries than many other places) or classist (being triumphant about our gains ignores those who haven't benefited as much.) I think it's a self-defeating attitude.

People complain about feminists being too "angry," but you're probably precisely the kind of feminist that they fear most -- charming and charismatic, yet incisive and uncompromising.


You really, really, really have nothing to worry about. The crazy people are the ones who refuse to get help, honestly. Therapy really helped me, and I can only hope that it helps you!

Amanda Marcotte

I remember hearing someone once claim that all the radical feminists he knew had in some way been badly mistreated by the men in their lives (sexually abused, etc.) and that was their main motivator. (His intention in this statement was to discredit feminism.)

I love it, Barbara. I get this all the time---that I'm "just" a feminist in response to being raped and abused in my past. (Weirdly, I always, always, always called myself one, but whatever.) People who resort to telling feminists that we're the way we are because of male abuse are admitting that feminism is a necessary movement. How odd that people who deny oppression are willing to admit that it exists in spades if they can use it to cast doubt on the claims of the victims?

Good luck with therapy, Happy. Statistically, depression (or willingness to admit to it) correlates strongly with intelligence and rationality. People who are able to deliver accurate appraisals of their situations in a clinical situation are more likely to be depressed than people who are baselessly optimistic. Turns out Kurt Cobain's query on whether or not being dumb and being happy were the same thing was not just pissing in the wind.

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