Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feminists

You know it's a funny thing; I hear so many women say "Oh no, I'M not a feminist", that it actually shocks me. They say it like it is a bad thing to be. That they simply could not imagine it being a part of their identity. That they need to separate far from themselves. DANGER!

I think there are many, many preconcieved notions on what a feminist is. What they think, say and do. What they look like.

There is not ONE type of feminist. There are millions. There are some groups that are radical. I would argue these are a small minority.

What does being a feminist, or feminism, mean to you? To me it is not scary. To me it means to be PRO woman, not ANTI man, as many seem to think. You don't have to hate men and not shave your legs to be a feminist. You can even wear lipstick! LOL.

Liberal feminists, for example, believe "all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality, therefore it is possible for change to happen without altering the structure of society."

If you believe women should be not discriminated againt because of their gender, in our right to choose our own calling, our right to be educated, or that we should have voting rights then you are already really a feminist, whether you call yourself one or not. It's not a dirty word.

Katha Pollitt said, "A feminist is a person who answers "yes" to the question, "Are women human?" Feminism is not about whether women are better than, worse than or identical with men. And it's certainly not about trading personal liberty--abortion, divorce, sexual self-expression--for social protection as wives and mothers, as pro-life feminists propose. It's about justice, fairness, and access to the broad range of human experience. It's about women consulting their own well-being and being judged as individuals rather than as members of a class with one personality, one social function, one road to happiness. It's about women having intrinsic value as persons rather than contingent value as a means to an end for others: fetuses, children, the "family," men". That doesn't mean those things can't be a part of your life.

You may or may not also have differing views on religion, abortion and reproductive rights from other feminists. That does not exclude you from the 'club'.

Yes, Virginia, suburban stay at home mothers can be feminists. You can choose to stay at home, and be a feminist, believe in equal rights, raise your children and be outraged when women are dealt a raw hand. You can sew, knit and crochet and be a feminist. You can choose to work, to not have children, whatever you want. You can be religious, or atheist, and be a feminist. There's no box you have to fit in, no checklist you must adhere to to gain membership.

You can also be a man and be a feminist. My own husband says he is too, as he believes in equal rights for women.

I respect and honour the women that fought so hard to give me the vote. People actually died to help give me  (and you) that privilege. People protested, jumped in front of horses, went on hunger strikes and were imprisoned so that I could exercise my own freedom of choice. What a gift.Thank you feminism, and feminists for giving women CHOICE. Thank you for making it clear to the world that I can do as I please. If that means I want to choose to stay home with my children, or go and build a career elsewhere, let it be known THE CHOICE IS MINE. Mine alone.

Please note, as many people may think, equal does not mean 'same'. Women do not have to be the SAME as men. We are different and that is OK. We're just not 'lesser'.

I remember once in  school, we were talking about feminist theory. We were challenged to think of a major piece of literature, or film, that did not have a woman being either saved by a man in some way, or married/encoupled in the end. I wonder if you can?

Some interesting feminism links:
http://members.iinet.net.au/~rabbit/femsup.htm
http://www.feminist.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism
http://www.herstoria.com/discover/hfeminism.html
Catholic Feminist's Story
Feminist Mormon Housewives

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for more links!

3 comments:

Mandi said...

Yes, I believe that sadly, "feminism" has gotten a bad name. Just like you said, feminism is a good thing, but the term is only associated with the men-hating, bra burning, granola ladies.

Thanks for the reminder. I am a feminist. I should get to own my own car or my own house. I want to vote and deserve to. I also like to bake, and cook and have babies. It's the best of both worlds. ;)

Steph said...

I heart you. :)

When I was a senior in college, my mom was also in college. She was in a small back-to-school-for-older-women program at the time, and it was an election year. After hearing my mom say "I don't vote, it doesn't matter anyway" one too many times, I went and spoke to her class (about 20 women, all over 35 and taking a second crack at school) and told them about the hunger strikes, the beatings, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, that idiot Woodrow Wilson, and how many women suffered just for the right to step into that voting booth. I told them that we owed those women, we owed them for their sacrifices and their dedication, because if they can be tortured and force-fed, the VERY LEAST we can do is pull a curtain and press a button. I told them that I know they're worried about war, about what will happen to their children and their grandchildren, worried about the jobs they'll be looking for when they graduate, and what will happen to the money they make. I told them the only way to protect themselves and their families is to VOTE. I hope I made a difference to those women; I know my mom hasn't missed a voting day since.

I am feminist. My husband is a feminist. We say it loud and say it proud, because I think the more people identify as such, the faster "feminist" will no longer be a dirty word.

littlemissrandom said...

Wow - fabulous post.

When I was at law school, a million years ago, we did a series of 'feminist law' lectures and the like, and it was amazing to see the women in the classes and their different views. We had the crazy hardcore lesbian feminist who railed against hair shaving and deoderant wearing right down to the quiet girl in the corner who spoke eloquently about glass ceilings.

My views on feminism have changed over the years from being anti-man and very outspoken on the issue, to understanding that that it's not about being better than men, it's about being equal.

I was most surprised recently when I was in Kenya, or more accurately, when I got back from Kenya, and I was explaining to people the work I did over there with the women's legal aid program. 'When did I become such a feminist?' I thought to myself when I got worked up explaining to people that the solution to poverty and many human rights abuses is the empowerment of women.

Thank you for pointing out that it's not about being the same as me, but being equal. If feminism is about ensuring that women have equal rights and opportunities as their male counterparts, then I am a feminist.