I’m liking this response to “Women Against Feminism.” I think it does a good job of explaining why feminism should matter to all women, even women who think they couldn’t possibly benefit from it personally. When explained in this way, this article points out the selfishness in assuming that your own personal privilege should invalidate a worldwide movement. Here is the author’s take on feminism, which I rather like:
“Feminism is a movement for freedom, equality, choice, love, compassion, respect, solidarity, and education. We may argue, we may disagree, we may struggle to understand the choices and perspectives of others sometimes, but these core beliefs of the movement have never changed, and they never will.”
My major complaint is that this article engages in non-Western othering. It’s not only in India, Pakistan, and Niger where women are victimized. Those types of things happen in the U.S. and UK as well. Although they are perhaps publicized and dealt with differently after the fact, the root cause of such actions (misogyny) is not just a non-Western phenomenon. It affects men and women of all colors and creeds. This is incredibly important, because modern feminism is a movement that drives for freedom, equality, etc. for all people–not just certain kinds of women.
The basic concept for my dissertation came out of seeing young women (often students in classes I was teaching) say, “I’m not a feminist, but …” and then say something that totally seems like feminism to me. (“I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equality.” “I’m not a feminist, but the gender-wage gap makes me angry.” “I’m not a feminist, but I get tired of female politicians being held to a different standard.”) I created apparent feminism both because I wanted to put a face on feminisms for them and because I wanted them to know that they don’t have to self-identify as feminist for me to take them seriously and want to work with them.
On the first day of a women’s and gender studies class I taught a few summers ago, I wore a hot pink pencil skirt. On the second day, I wore dark jeans and chucks, and I asked the students if they’d noticed what I wore yesterday. Every single one of them had. By the end of the class, one student said that she almost dropped the class that first day because my outfit made it seem to her like I didn’t know what feminism was. For that student, at least, I managed to broaden the idea of what a feminist can look like. But I still wonder what cultural signals are telling people that a feminist can only be one thing–that a feminist can’t wear a pink skirt. Defining feminism so narrowly is exactly the opposite of its main message, which is that people can be and do whatever they want regardless of sex.
I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories, blog posts, and online conversations lately about “anti-feminism.” I’ve read a number of them, and the best I can understand is that the current “anti-feminism” movement is about hating anyone who identifies as feminist. This doesn’t make sense to me because feminists are extremely diverse; the only real organizing principles of feminism are a drive for a equality among all people (which seems like a pretty obviously Good thing) and an implicit assumption that sexual equality has not yet been achieved on a systematic scale (which is supported by overwhelming quantifiable data). But, apparent feminism is also about listening, so right now I’m trying to interpret these statements as the beginnings of worthwhile political conversations. In the meantime, I’ll just keep reminding people that “feminist” can mean a lot of things–and our personal interpretations of the word “feminist” are quite telling.
Having just wrapped up the Feminist Scholars Digital Workshop (#FSDW14), I’m very excited to begin revisions on the dissertation chapter I brought to the exchange. My partners were generous and supportive in their feedback while also providing some really exciting ideas about areas to expand. In particular, I often worry that my literature reviews are a bit … ponderous. This problem can be exacerbated since I’m in technical communication (which I find fascinating … but I’m aware not everyone does!). I was thrilled to learn that my peers found most parts of the lit review useful and informative in this particular article. (Of course, this could have to do with their generous readings and inquisitive minds!)
More exciting than the feedback I received, though, was the opportunity to read smart work being done by cutting-edge feminist scholars. I read cultural analyses of the lonelygirl15 YouTube incident, the popular ABC series Once Upon A Time, and reactions to feminist bloggers. I don’t want to give away more details of this important work and steal any of my peers’ thunder, but keep your eyes peeled. I’m going to be citing some of these smart women in the near future.
Loving this post from Pamela Clark:
35 Practical Tools for Men to Further Feminist Revolution
Perhaps my favorite part: “consider donating a symbolic 23% of your income to social justice-oriented causes. If 23% sounds like a lot to you, that’s because it is a lot and it’s also a lot for women who don’t have a choice whether to forfeit this amount or not.”
It reminds me of a post I wrote a while back that still comes up from time-to-time in daily conversations. I wrote then, “If you’re tired of hearing me talk about these things, imagine how tiring it must be to live them all the time.” Yeah, I’m tired. That’s why allies are so important.