I haven’t been blogging much -not into the groove I guess. But recently I asked the question “Do you consider yourself a feminist” on both my local mama board and on twitter. I wasn’t surprised by the answers but definitely intrigued by some interesting conversations that developed. For the record, I consider myself a feminist. Since I was a teenager I have identified as part of the F. world and it has shaped a lot of who I am. My version of feminism is pretty fluid and open – I believe in equity, equality and a voice for all. It translates into my relationships, my work, my mothering and pretty much everything I do. I don’t know how to piece it out and define it. Although I identify more with some aspects of feminism than others, I accept the diversity of the movement as positive reflection on its openness and am not attached to one particular view or another.
So what were some of the responses I got from other people? Some felt that we were past the need for feminism – that women have made it and that feminism is no longer relevant. I don’t accept this view for a variety of reasons. 1 in 3 women experience violence at the hands of someone they know (usually a male), women in Canada and the US only make 77cents for every dollar a man makes, women make up the vast majority of the poor in Canada and around the world, rape is used as a weapon of war and gender based violence is growing not decreasing. Despite these reasons and others, I do understand why some women might believe we are post-feminist. In their view, these particular women have not been hampered by their gender and they believe they are equal to men. To me this speaks more to a particular woman’s privilege than it does to the state of gender equality in the world. I could easily look at my life and think that gender doesn’t matter – I have reaped the benefits of being a white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied woman in the west. But even with this privilege I see inequities – I see it subtly in my own life and I see it in the women that I work with, love, know and read about. Even if I could concede that feminism is irrelevant in North America, a look beyond these borders to the marginalization of women around the world would cause me to put that big F right back on my chest. There is so much more to be done.
Some of the other responses from women were that although they agreed with equality, they weren’t man-haters or concerned with political correctness and therefore weren’t feminists. I am not sure how man-hating became equated with feminism other than by a concerted backlash attempt by those who fear feminism to paint it as a radical, anti-male agenda. But I know a lot of feminists and not one of them hates men – in fact most of them would be less likely to stereotype or degrade the male gender than most people I know. And since feminism really is about equality for all, I assured these women that if they wanted the label of feminism they already held the ideals.
Lastly, there were the women who did say that they were feminists and the reasons were as varied as those who didn’t. Some came to it through motherhood and expressed desire to uphold the feminine values and the unique bond and relationship of the mother baby dyad. Others spoke of coming to feminism recently, as they began to understand their place and privilege in the world Some experienced great oppression in their lives through violence or other forms of marginalizations. And others were similar to me in that they couldn’t quite recall what brought them here as it just seems like they always were a feminist.
It has been an intersesting discusssion. One I hope to continue so if you stumble upon my blog and have some thoughts please feel free to comment. I am open to people disagreeing with me, I just ask that you remain respectful. My feminism is about love, peace and change – not anger, resistance or fear. Regardless of your take on my words, I offer you that.