Weekend question: How do you define feminism?

I wrote June 4 about a battle that has emerged over the meaning of what it means to be a feminist.
saint sarah.pngThis is due in large part to wife, mother of 5, and former AK Gov. Sarah Palin, who calls herself a feminist but rejects the modern liberal pro-abort understanding of the term for the originalist, suffragette, pro-life, “mama grizzly” definition.
The new issue of Newsweek features a cover story about “Saint Sarah” by religion editor Lisa Miller (who 3 weeks ago called the excommunication and reassignment of a Catholic nun for authorizing an abortion in a Catholic hospital “authoritarian meddling”).
Clearly the sticking point is abortion. Wrote Miller…

Traditional feminists see Palin’s feminism as a joke. “It’s such a contrivance,” says Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of North America. “There’s nothing there. I don’t think Sarah Palin is going to change the national scene on choice or on feminism. Her rallying cry is pretty empty if she’s against women’s rights.”

There’s also a cosmic ideological divide, noted by Harvard professor R. Marie Griffith, author of the book, God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission, in Miller’s piece: “You hate to say it, but mainstream feminism has had an antireligious bias for a really long time.”
cecile richards saint sarah.pngIn Miller’s piece the word “submission” and “submissive” both came up twice as part of the mix. In general I found her article offensive and misunderstanding the pro-life female conservative culture. (Cecile Richards retweeted the piece, which indicates liberal pro-aborts must have loved it.) Here was Miller’s definition of Palin’s brand of feminism:

“Within these circles, there is very much an ideal Christian woman model,” explains Griffith. “It’s an image that blends this kind of submissive, pretty, aw-shucks demeanor with a fiery power, a spiritual warfare.” Palin may say she’s a pugnacious jock primed to take on the big boys, but her family, beauty-queen figure, and glossy hair are her calling cards.

So there’s their definition of of the conservative definition of feminism.
But what is your definition? And under those terms, would you consider yourself a feminist?

49 thoughts on “Weekend question: How do you define feminism?”

  1. my hasty definition of the problem, and my hasty prescription for the cure:
    feminism = women wanting to be like men
    femininity = women wanting to be like women
    femininity = women wanting to be liked by men

  2. A feminist is simply someone who believes that men and women deserve equal rights. By that definition, I am a feminist. It does not follow that women have the right to kill their children.

  3. I like Archbishop Chaput’s definition:
    “There is a good type of feminism, you know, in which women embrace their femininity in the fullest sense of the word, and the duty of men to respect and value that wonderful gift from God is obvious.” (source}

  4. Palin may say she’s a pugnacious jock primed to take on the big boys, but her family, beauty-queen figure, and glossy hair are her calling cards.
    Oh, god forbid a woman who calls herself a feminist should actually *look* feminine instead of doing everything possible to look and operate like a man. You can smell the jealousy and disdain just oozing from that writing, can’t you??
    The liberal brand of “feminism” is filled with hatred toward anyone who thinks she can actually accomplish her goals (and does) without having to do it on the backs of her own dead and discarded babies.
    The liberal brand of “feminism” hates its own femininity (unless they can claim it’s superior to men), which is why abortion is their cornerstone.
    All their brand of feminism has done is turn the tables of oppression. Women can now freely oppress those weaker than themselves. Oh, the JOY! Oh, the FREEDOM!! As long as we’re doing it to spit in the faces of the patriarchy, it doesn’t matter who we kill or destroy. Women can now freely use men for sex (the way men have used women) and then denigrate them as lesser beings.
    But if you’re a woman who loves having a career AND a family AND you actually have a husband whom you love and don’t treat as if he’s just another one of your children… well, apparently that’s “submission” to the patriarchy.
    I believe that feminism means women have the right to be treated as equals in society. We are not, however, exactly like men. We have the GIFT of being the ones chosen to bear the next generation. Therefore, we should take pride in the fact that though we are different, we are strong in so many ways. We can be mothers and wives and friends and professionals. Men and women are not meant to be enemies. They are meant to work together and complement each other. No one should be oppressing anyone else.
    I would consider myself a feminist in the same vein as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a founding foremother of feminism, who raised a flag every time one of her children was born, and who fought tirelessly for women to have the right to pursue whatever dreams they wished. She was also pro-life.

  5. I can just see the movers and shakers at Newsweek all sitting in a conference room…”Everyone think! Our magazine is failing! How could that possibly be? Does anyone have any suggestions?”
    “Traditional” feminists are not traditional feminists. They’re second-wave feminists, who altered the philosophy of a much older feminist movement with a much longer tradition.
    If Sarah Palin was truly “dumb” or “a joke,” the press wouldn’t spend nearly this much time on her. Joe Biden doesn’t appear to be the brightest of bulbs, but Republicans don’t obsess over Joe Biden. That’s because they know he’s not a threat in any way, shape, or form, so they just go, “ha, Biden is dumb” in passing and move on. Sarah Palin is a threat to the Left, and that scares them.
    Back in the 70s, wasn’t one of the big deals about Gloria Steinem supposed to be, “look, you can be a feminine, physically attractive woman and still be a feminist”? At one point Gloria Steinem had a beauty-queen figure and glossy hair as well. But that was okay, I guess, because she graduated from Smith College, advocated for abortion, and claimed women didn’t need men or marriage…until she fell for Christian Bale’s dad, that is.
    “I don’t think Sarah Palin is going to change the national scene on choice or on feminism.”
    Um, too late, Cecile.
    “You hate to say it, but mainstream feminism has had an antireligious bias for a really long time.”
    Why hate to say it if it’s true?

  6. True feminism means behaving like our Mother Mary, who opened her heart to God’s Will for her life and became the Mother of our Savior and the world’s first Christian.

  7. Palin may say she’s a pugnacious jock primed to take on the big boys, but her family, beauty-queen figure, and glossy hair are her calling cards.
    According to NOW, “appearance and sexual orientation should be out of bounds.” They forgot to add the disqualifier for women committed to heterosexual marriage and prolife values. Especially ones who don’t know their place and dare to venture forth into politics.

  8. This from an article about Kagan…she is course is the true feminist that NOW backs and loves…..helps to cover up sexual harassment.
    They also reveal that she was among the small army of lawyers who worked unsuccessfully to postpone Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton. His testimony for the suit, denying a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, helped lead to his impeachment.

  9. Posted by: Kelsey at June 12, 2010 12:55 PM
    This. This a thousand times.
    What that means to me in practice is opposing things like rape culture, opposing unequal pay for doing the same job (which, by the way, happened to me personally, so I know whereof I speak on that subject), calling out people who stereotype women, standing up for my rights when I see them challenged, and encouraging other women to do the same (obviously no one has the right to kill any other human being, but there are plenty of other rights women have that tend to bother some people). Honestly, I think feminism is a natural outgrowth of being pro-life. If all human beings are equally valuable, valued, and dignified then it is wrong to treat men as more valuable or dignified than women, ever, for any reason.

  10. Hi FedUp 3:12PM
    LOL, since when?? NOW was strangely silent when Paula Jones was ridiculed for her looks. One ardent feminist told me she didn’t believe Paula Jones because she’s “homely”. Then there was poor Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State who verified the Bush win in 2000. NOW was silent when this woman was ridiculed for her makeup. The woman in who Monica Lewinsky confided her affair with Bill Clinton, Linda Tripp, was also ridiculed for her appearance to the point of having plastic surgery.
    Obviously the only time physical appearance doesn’t matter is when a woman is a liberal who resmembles a pit bull.
    Oh, and do we ever hear any discussion on male politicians’ need for hair plugs, facelifts, and fitness trainers? I can think of a few in desperate need.

  11. I prefer the term “new feminism” which respects the dignity of the woman person.
    This new feminisim respects and is comfortable with the notion of women as mothers as well as women as workers. Women have been both throughout history but only in the last 100 years have we denigrated women as mothers.
    I also like the idea that we are to be complementary to men – that we have strengths that men do not have but that we are equal in dignity to them.
    Therefore any sort of advocacy for women must respect her natural emotional, physical and spiritual well-being
    contraception does not do this.
    abortion does not do this.
    To support these two things alone, makes most feminists self-haters and haters of women.

  12. Ashley I don’t think prolifers hate feminists.
    I just believe they don’t represent the majority of women.
    The original feminist movement was nothing about birth control and abortion.
    The movement was hijacked by those with a very different agenda and set of morals.
    Most women would like to be able to have babies and receive time off work.
    Most women would like a more flexible work schedule that recognizes their special duties as mothers and as the prime nurturers of young children.
    Instead feminists have fed a generation of women the lie that they don’t matter and that they are not different from men. In fact the feminist lie is just this: women must be men in order to be liberated. Women must shut down their biology to be equal, to get jobs, to be successful, to maintain their looks etc. etc. etc.
    They have been told that there is nothing special about being a mom and that anyone can do it as long as they have an ECE certificate.
    There are alot of young women who aren’t buying this crap anymore.

  13. Feminism was hijacked in the 60’s by men pushing sexual license and abortion. The majority of women never got on board with the man hating, baby hating version. The ERA was more popular with men than women.
    The Feministing version has all the cultural and demographic vigor of the Shaker movement. It is too austere and suicidal to grow and thrive. Like a maladaptive genetic variation, it is an evolutionary dead end. Feministing style feminism is an emotional austerity program that most women are constitutionally disinclined to embrace.
    According to the US census 27% of women have 55% of the children. (20% of women have none). Also, those 55% live in a household with at least two siblings. That is a different home environment from being an only or having only one sibling.

  14. I think to be a feminist means to fight for women to be valued the way they deserve to be valued. It means not allowing abortion to hurt women, not allowing them to be victimized by human trafficking and the like on the “negative” side of things to stop. It also means to fight for women to be able to vote, to be able to be paid the same as men on the “positive” side of things to accomplish.
    And by that definition, yes, I consider myself a feminist.

  15. Feminism was hijacked in the 60’s by men pushing sexual license and abortion. The majority of women never got on board with the man hating, baby hating version. The ERA was more popular with men than women.
    The author of the original ERA, Alice Paul, was pro-life. She was justifiably angered by those who tried to read a right to abortion into it, and believed (again, justifiably) that this pro-abortion activism doomed the amendment.

  16. Angel… excellently said! That is exactly what modern feminism is..telling women that they must be men to be liberated. You hit the nail on the head. And I have no desire to be a man. I am worth just as much as my husband but what I contribute to our family and to the world is much different. The feminists say since I have become a stay at home mom I no longer have value. Perhaps thats why I feel no loyalty to “feminists” though I believe in the principal of feminism..that women also have worth!

  17. I consider myself a feminist, but not precisely under those terms. For one, a woman need adhere to Christian ideals of wifehood and whatnot to be considered one of the ‘good’ sort of feminists. But hey, its an evolving, ever-changing movement, with many definitions.

  18. thanks Sydney! ;)
    I agree many women who are full time moms and work out of their homes! are very alienated.
    They are also told that any education they might have received before leaving the workforce is wasted.

  19. The ‘left’ defines feminism as pro-abortin on demand and liberal.
    No matter what your gender, ethnicity, nationality, age or sexual orientation, if you don’t agree with the leftist on those two points you are not qualified to be an ‘authentic feminist’.

  20. To me, true feminism is the affirmation of all of the most beautiful and glorious attributes of the unique character traits of women.
    If women were properly respected, treasured and valued for their insightfulness, inner beauty and contributions to our society, many wouldn’t feel compelled to fight for validation.
    I’m stating the obvious here, but I believe men and women each express different parts of God’s character. We each have the capacity to glorify God with our good works, according to His design.
    Chicks are very, very, cool.

  21. I’m happy to be a true feminist! Pro-life, Pro-woman, Pro- the vocation in life God gave me! It’s beautiful because we’re obviously different than men (our nature, physically, etc…), and are blessed by God in a unique way!

  22. I believe that, unfortunately, the left, butch, lesbians that are “pro-choice” have hi-jacked the word ‘feminism’.
    I believe they have shoved their stereotype of a “feminist” down the throats of every American, every woman in this world -to further the agenda -of abortion. A REAL woman would never murder her child. A REAL woman, will feel and hear the soul of a day old baby in her womb. A REAL feminist has feelings. These “non-feminists” don’t. They hate men. I don’t. They hate their bodies enough to alter them. I don’t. They hate their unborn children -enough to murder them. I don’t. THANK GOD I woke up.

  23. Oh wow. After reading that Newsweek article, I am itching for a red pen.
    “Let’s face it (cliche and too familiar–replace with a better transition): the Trig story is a women’s story (according to whom?), the kind girlfriends share over coffee or in church. It has all the familiar elements of evangelical testimony: tribulation and dread; trust in God; and, finally, great blessings (four paragraphs in and you finally deign to mention Palin’s religion, which the title would imply to be the article’s theme?). Many Christian women (which ones?) loathe Palin, of course (why “of course” and where do you give examples of how this is not just logical, but obvious?), and many men (which men?) love her, but a certain kind of conservative, Bible-believing woman (what kind of conservative, Bible-believing woman?) worships her (says who?). And it is these women Palin has been actively courting as she crisscrosses the country talking about Trig to women’s and pro-life organizations.”
    Good grief. With writing that sloppy–and positively riddled with weasel words and randomly BSed sentences that have so foundational support whatsoever–it’s no wonder
    Newsweek is struggling to stay afloat! If I’d turned in essays like this to my high school teachers, they’d have had words with me for certain. Where were this chick’s editors?!?

  24. With the advent of the pill and Roe v. Wade, men realized their wildest dreams and fantasies.
    We can now place the entire burden of contraception and its sequellae on women, use them in their prime for our pleasure, pay for their abortions and walk if the sex or relationship get messy in the aftermath.
    Then its on to the next conquest.
    Welcome to women’s ‘liberation’.
    The old chestnut about New Testament talk of ‘submission’ misses the mark by a mile. Paul talks of spouses being mutually submissive to one another, which has nothing to do with obedience.
    Christian marriage is meant to be an icon, a window into the inner life of the Blessed Trinity. St Augustine brilliantly observed that the Father gives radically and totally of Himself to the Son, and the Son reciprocates in kind; both out of love. That very mutual submission, or emptying of self to the other generates the Holy Spirit of God, and creates the very oneness of God, though there are three separate persons.
    Our mutual submission is supposed to be the same radical and profound emptying of the self to the other. Such radical love creates a natural and irresistible mutual accountability to one another in love and for love.
    In those best of marriages where such mutual self donation approaches totality, there is an enviable oneness of mind, heart, and soul. The two truly become one flesh.
    That’s what Paul was getting at. Per usual with the lefties, the pervert, distort and mutilate everything holy in their path. The reason why abortion is their sacrament is precisely because it fosters mutually degrading sex without any accountability, and spits on the generation of new life arising from the physical expression of oneness.
    It is Satan spitting at God through humanity.
    Authentic feminism is nothing more than the embrace of women in all of their glory, of recognizing their dignity AS women, and celebrating their unique strengths and contributions. Pope John Paul II really nailed it in the following excerpt:
    ON THE
    “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning”, the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man – even with all his sharing in parenthood – always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood” from the mother. One can say that this is part of the normal human dimension of parenthood, including the stages that follow the birth of the baby, especially the initial period. The child’s upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents: the maternal and paternal contribution. In any event, the mother’s contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.
    “In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root…
    “Unless we refer to this order and primacy we cannot give a complete and adequate answer to the question about women’s dignity and vocation. When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons – men and women. In this broad and diversified context, a woman represents a particular value by the fact that she is a human person, and, at the same time, this particular person, by the fact of her femininity. This concerns each and every woman, independently of the cultural context in which she lives, and independently of her spiritual, psychological and physical characteristics, as for example, age, education, health, work, and whether she is married or single.
    “Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect” women and for “weak” women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.”

  25. I said a couple of weeks ago on this blog “Pro-Life Men Rock” (I still think a calendar featuring Pro-Life men and their stories is a great idea) but Pro-Life women rock too. Real men and women love, respect and cherish each other and they respect LIFE.
    I think a true feminist is the woman who loves being a woman whether single or married and loves being who God created her to be. She is not desperate for “a man” but if and when God brings the right man who compliments her into her life (and she compliments him also) they become “one” in the covenant of marriage in every way. That is why I think the feminist Nazis hate Sarah Palin so much she is secure in who she is and what she believes and what she was created to be. But most of all they hate her because she is Pro-Life and she carried Trig to term, an “imperfect DS baby” and she loves him. She is the pro-aborts worst nightmare. They hate what she stands for, a woman who “chose to give life to a DS baby”, in the mindset and words of Margaret Sanger,(their role model), how dare she willingly give birth to an “unfit, imbecile”, when they have fought so hard to give her the “right” to kill her unborn imperfect baby. They are NOT pro-choice, they are pro-abortion and pro-death. That is why I call it PADS-Pro-Abortion Derangement Syndrome, they are sick. Liked you post about true feminism, Ed. God bless you.

  26. Posted by: Praxedes at June 12, 2010 9:30 PM
    Another great thread Jill.
    Back at ya’ Prolifer L, God bless you!

  27. Kel nailed it.
    I’ll only add that Camus described this dynamic in “The Rebel” — a book that we all need to read repeatedly:
    “Resentment is always resentment against oneself. The rebel, on the contrary, from his very first step, refuses to allow anyone to touch what he is. He is fighting for the integrity of one part of his being. He does not try, primarily, to conquer, but simply to impose.”
    Mainstream “feminists” hate Sarah Palin because she is not fueled by resentment. She embraces being a woman with all that it entails — which does NOT include male-bashing and baby-trashing.

  28. There’s a lot of argument over what “feminism” means. I don’t identify as a feminist, and don’t particularly desire to.
    I do admire those working to take back the term. It seems to be an important term for many people, so that’s vaulable.
    If you ask me if I am a feminist, I would ask for your definition.
    Insofar as a particular definition agrees with the Bible, it is correct to believe in it (i.e., women have equal value as persons). Insofar as it disagrees with the Bible, it is a dangerous falsehood (i.e., women are the same as men, women are superior to men, it’s okay to mutilate your body or kill others to achieve your goals).
    Went to an awesome wedding yesterday–old friend was getting married. They chose the verses on submission and what marriage entailed for one of their scriptures (from Epesians 5). And their pastor preached on it. And there were 3 or 4 babies at the ceremony, and more at the reception. And m’love and I got to see a lot of old friends…. Submission is misunderstood. And maligned. And it’s part of God’s word.

  29. A woman,
    enjoying being a woman,
    anticipating what God has in store for her,
    enjoying being with her husband and children thoroughly,
    asking God to give her a selfless and strong spirit,
    and looking at All issues of life thru the clear viewpoint of God’s love.
    Don’t know what you’d call that. I don’t personally care to call it feminism, or to try to change the definition of “their” feminism; what with the awful issues of sexual perversion and abortion now tied up with it.
    I think we need an entirely new term. Or maybe terms don’t matter and it’s Just fine to shake things up and leave the gawkers to decide what to call it……

  30. Do we really need labels? My hero(ine) Sr. Thea Bowman said “If anybody asks who you are, tell them ‘I am a child of God'”. We really need to get past the labels and the incessant judging and commenting on woman’s bodies, and see and treat each other based on who we really are, children of God.

  31. Where are women’s “rights” if the government is going to decree that they must all give birth if they happen to be pregnant even if they lack the means to take care of those unborn children or a pregnancy would either kill them or ruin their helath? Some freedom and equality.

  32. Jasper: From what I can tell from the comments section on several posts here over the last few months, Ashley’s sort of going through a contemplative questioning thing over what it means to be pro-life and what it means to be pro-choice. Not a fraud.
    Ashley: I don’t hate feminists, although I don’t have any deep fondness for some of the ones I went to college with. :) A lot of the modern feminists who consider themselves the true believers in the movement, so to speak, care more about abortion, leftist politics, and political jargon than they do about the rights of all women – including the ones they don’t agree with – to be treated as equal to men.
    Jill: Thanks. :)

  33. Yeah, we know, Robert.
    Women can’t.
    We can’t help it if we “happen to be pregnant.” It just happens to us through none of our own devices. We’re victims- we just wake up pregnant one day, no idea how it happened to us, and we need you and your friends with poison and scalpels to rescue us from our pesky uninvited uterine hitchhikers.
    Women can’t.
    We can’t choose to not create babies when we’re not in a good position to raise them. We can’t control ourselves, or make good decisions before we make babies. (Oh sorry, forgot for a sec, we don’t make babies, we “happen” them. Or they “happen” us, since we’re the victims.)
    We get it. Women can’t.
    We can’t, even when we “happen to be pregnant” at inconvenient times, solve problems, can’t work harder, can’t get help from others, can’t adapt our dreams, can’t wait for later, can’t be selfless, can’t try new ideas. All we can do is poison or dismember to try to survive.
    We can’t be equal to men without the availablity of abortion. We are victims, incapable of taking responsibility for our own actions. Our bodies are inferior than yours, and we resent the dreaded possibility that we may “happen” to be invaded by life-destroying, health-ravaging fetal homo-sapiens. We need you to level the playing field for us with violence and chemicals.
    What would we do without you, Robert?

  34. Robert, abortion has ALWAYS been allowed if the mother’s LIFE were in danger. Get a new argument. The ones you have are stale and moldy.

  35. Michelle,
    That was the most authentic expression of genuine feminism I’ve ever heard. With your permission and Jill’s, I’d like to post it on my blog. God Bless you and keep you. You have utterly destroyed fifty years of radical feminist philosophy in a few short paragraphs.
    Laurie is right. You deserved it.

  36. Posted by: Robert Berger at June 13, 2010 9:43 AM
    “Same freedom and equality.”
    If it requires decriminalizing murder to liberate women and make them ‘equal’, then women will never were and never will be, ‘equal’.
    Perhaps in your fantasy world taxpayer funded gender re-assignment surgery would make women ‘equal’ to men by at least giving them a masculine appearance.

  37. @ Michelle at June 13, 2010 10:29 AM
    Thank you! Thank you!
    Your post reminded me of what my ex-husband said after being busted for cheating, “What was I suppose to do? She persued me!”
    I’m no rocket scientist but if your line of thinking goes something like, “oops it just fell in!” you might want to think a bit deeper.
    A very tiny percentage of pregnancies can be called accidental: when both those having intercourse honestly have zero concept of how humans are conceived.
    The rest of all pregnancies are intentional.
    Proaborts continue to oppress women.

  38. I have to say it bothers me that if you disagree in any way with abortion on demand at ANY point of fetal gestation you are deemed to not be considered a feminist.
    I think feminism is much more than abortion rights. Feminism was based upon women receiving equal rights (i.e. right to vote, own property, etc) as men. Equal pay is a feminist issue, maternity leave is a feminist issue. Heck, sex-selective abortion is a feminist issue because it discriminates against women.
    I think one can be a feminist and consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice. I don’t think you have to support abortion to call yourself a feminist.

  39. Michelle
    What you wrote I think had more affirmation for the strength of a woman’s spirit than anything I’ve ever read. Be blessed.

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