I was looking at my tag cloud and realized that the word feminism, or feminist, doesn’t appear. Not once.
I am a feminist. Actually, let me correct that. I am a Feminist.
What is a Feminist? I go by this definition:
- Someone who believes that men and women should be considered and treated as equals (politically, socially and economically),
- Someone who believes that, presently, women are not politically, socially or economically equal to men, and
- Someone who makes an effort towards the advancement of women in order to achieve political, social, and economical equality.
I didn’t come up with this definition; I came across it while in university, and to me it explains it well and is easy to remember. I’m well aware of what others perceive feminism and feminists to be. They are entitled to their opinions, but to me, this is essentially – by definition – what feminism is.
I think most women are feminists. I think most women do believe that women should be equal to men and that they see inequality in their own lives. Given the stigma that the word “feminist” has, the fact that a lot of women don’t adopt it to describe themselves isn’t surprising. It’s disappointing, but not surprising. If I was highly concerned with wanting to get married and have babies with men, I probably wouldn’t want to call myself a feminist either – I’m not going to lie.
I say this because a lot of men are put off by it. I don’t think they are put off by the definition of the word feminist as I laid out above; a lot of men do believe in equality of the sexes (how far they are willing to bend in order to achieve this is another question). I think they are put off with the common perceptions that exist about feminism as a movement. And there are many.
Feminists hate men.This one always perplexes me. I don’t know how one can equate me wanting to achieve equality between men and women with man-hating. Really? If I’m critiquing or suggesting an alternative way of thinking about masculinity, that’s not me hating men. Just like when I critique aspects of femininity, that’s not me hating women. I’m questioning how we can re-imagine our behaviour in a way that fosters equality rather than inhibiting it. Having said that, if you insist on holding on to an ideal of manhood that promotes the denigration of women, then yeah, I probably won’t like you. That doesn’t mean I hate men. I just don’t like you – and the attitudes you hold not only about women, but men, too – because your view of what a man is is likely just as limiting.
Feminists hate sex. There are variations on this – such as pro-sex feminists versus anti-sex feminists. Who is anti-sex? Anti-sex? Really? Usually feminists in this camp are those against public consumption of sex, or the proliferation of sexual objectification usually experienced by women, such as – and most notably – pornography.
I’ll just say this first: just because someone is against porn, it doesn’t mean they are against sex. Pornography is not sex.
Some feminists (MacKinnon comes to mind) have been brave enough to publish theories of sex, systems of power and patriarchal norms. Feminists – like anyone – fall along a spectrum or continuum of feminist thought. Do I agree with what all feminists believe? No, but at least they are adding to the conversation that needs to be had – and one of those conversations is regarding how central sexuality is to our understanding of equality.
I love sex (as many of my previous posts indicate). But I absolutely hate things that I feel are the sexual objectification of women (strip clubs, music videos, most men’s mags, etc). Am I pro-sex? Or anti-sex?
I knew a feminist who became a stripper so that she can put herself through university. Would she be considered pro-sex? Or anti-sex?
Feminists want women to have power over men. Wrong. If you come across suggestions of this, then it is not feminist thought. Along this same line of thought is that women should have everything; women want to be treated as equals but still want doors held open for them, for men to pay the bills, etc. Again, this isn’t feminist. This is a case of a woman who wants her cake and to eat it too. I personally think that for women to gain equality the practice of chivalry has to end (I open doors for everyone, not just those with vaginas). Since a lot women like chivalry, I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Feminists are angry, ugly women. There is some truth to that, haha. There are ugly feminists out there, but they’re not feminists because they are ugly. They are ugly because they are ugly.
Are feminists angry? Of course. Sexism makes me angry, and it should. Just like racism makes me angry – and it should. What the f*&#% is there to smile about?
Feminists are white middle class women. Last time I checked I wasn’t. Sure, I can call myself a Humanist or Egalitarian – both great terms, but I personally prefer Feminist. Yes, I believe in equality for all, but by far the “ism” that has had the most overarching impact in my life has been sexism. So there my passions lay, in helping others understand it and hopefully do little things in their lives to improve the standard of women’s lives (in turn improving the lives of men). And when I say “women” and “men” I do mean all of them, not just the white middle class ones.
Feminism is about women’s issues. This one is tough because it’s true, and yet it isn’t.
It’s hard to talk about women’s lives without talking about men – how they impact women’s lives and vice versa. Even women who live women-centred lives are impacted by men in some way. I personally believe that to change women’s lives for the better is to change men’s lives for the better as well. It’s not about building women up so that they can tear men down, and it’s not about ignoring men’s issues (which is a post I hope to complete in the near future). Issues of abuse, violence, racism, classism, homophobia, parenting – these are all subjects that impact men as well. Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. Regardless of your political leanings, feminism has helped to allow the discussion of these issues to take place, thereby providing avenues of change for men as well.
In Part II, I will look at my reasons for being a Feminist from a more personal standpoint… assuming I’m up for it.