Yikes! Do you feel that "feminist" is an insult? While I can understand that what you call yourself isn't the most important thing, it seems like a lot of women avoid this label out of fear. It also seems a bit disrespectful to all the women who worked so hard to get us where we are, to distance ourselves from them like that.
Well, there's another side to that. A while back I got involved in a discussion on a feminist message board about pornography and egalitarian sex- because I said that I think that we should use models of language that allow people to talk about sex as being egalitarian (rather than as something in which the man is everything and the woman is an object), and because I said there can be valid porn for and by women, someone told me that I wasn't a feminist- in fact, she pretty much implied that I was hostile towards feminism, and this is simply because I believe that women aren't always the victims where sex and porn are concerned. In that case, a feminist considered it an insult for me to call myself a feminist.
The truth is that I do want to distance myself from that sort of thing. I don't see the need to give myself a label if it's just going to upset those who want it for other reasons, and it doesn't really stop me from believing in eqaulity for both sexes and all genders- I don't feel like I'm insulting the women of the past, because I still believe in that equality.
Well, I agree with you, that porn does not always objectify women, etc. But I think that these views in no way interfere with my right to call myself a feminist. There are lots of different types of feminists, and just because I am not a radical feminist doesn't mean that I need to shed the label of "feminist" entirely.
I don't really feel threatened by the popular assumption that femnism=radical feminism. I certainly think a lot of radical feminist ideas are worth thinking about. I don't agree with their central premise that women are always objectified in sexual intercourse, but I think, unfortunately, it is true much of the time.
To me, it just seems like these young girls are ungrateful. I don't agree with every single view held by every feminist that came before me. But I'm still grateful for what they accomplished. I think the term feminist is a word that has the ability to change with the times. I certainly don't buy this "we don't need feminism anymore" stuff.
And call me cynical, but I also think some girls don't want to be called feminist because they're afraid it will ruin their chances of getting a hot boyfriend and being popular. :P
Anyway, I didn't find it a very inspiring or hopeful article for women's day...
I don't think I would want to call myself a feminist unless there was a reason to, that is, unless I was exceptional for it. So far, I've never been in a community where I felt that I was. Yes, of course I believe in equal rights for men and women. Yes, I recognize that men and women have not been treated equally in the past, and there is still a ways to go for equal treatment. But sheltered child that I am, I can't really think of anyone who doesn't agree with me on that stuff. Here on campus, the "feminists" aren't necessarily the militant feminists, but they are the activist feminists, and I'm not. It's just not a priority for me, because I think that there are more urgent issues that I am better equipped to give to.
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...and what about men who consider themselves feminists?
I do think we need feminism, because the fact of the matter is that women still do not have equal rights. I also think paiting feminism with a brush that only has feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon in it's palatte (or NOW, which for the first good 20 years of it's existence, refused to let lesbians participate) is both detrimental as well as narrow-minded. We have had plenty of feminists (some of whom have been men) through history, and it deserves a broader view.
But what I also think is that as it progresses, if more people are comfortable with new words and terms, they should go for it.
And let me also say that unfortunately, women's studies departments in general -- in my experience and many other women that I know -- are some of the scarier places I've been in when it comes to insular, narrow-minded thinking and a lot of bitterness na dhatred -- even of women, which seems to defeat the point. I wish that hadn't been my experience, but it has.
There may be benefits to abandonding the term in favor of something a little more braod, and in tune with what Eclipse was saying, recognizing that the underlying issue of feminism really is *humanism* can be really valuable, and I think can help to keep the good stuff going.
Why be trendy and follow the herd with the "oh, we're not icky feminist" stuff? Call yourself a feminist anyway!
I mean, really -- if you *do* think that women are important... and that women's access to equal protection under the law, in health care, economics, and in social contracts is worth even an iota of your thought or time... then congratulations, you're a feminist!
I promise, you don't have to get angry or hate men or anything to be a feminist. All you really have to do is care about people more than gender, when it comes right down to it. The rest is up to you. There are all different flavors of feminist, and you can decide what issues and priorities are most meaningful to you and your life as you go along. The important thing is whether you agree that improving lives and treating people humanely is not something that should be dependent on gender.
Personally, I'm very proud to call myself a feminist. I feel that the more strong women publicly identify as feminists, the more diverse and useful images of feminists we have. In other words, the best way to combat the idea that feminists are angry stomping meanies who hate men and want special rights for women is to show people, on a day-to-day basis, that YOU are what a feminist looks like: short, tall, thin, fat, straight, queer, blond, brunette, younger, older, male, female, transgendered, politically active, not politically active, liberal, progressive, conservative, religious, non-religious, left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous.
We can all bring something to the table to make a world where more people are included more of the time, and treated better more often. And we can let that good treatment and inclusion begin with us.
Hanne and Miz Scarlet, you're both probably right- I shouldn't be letting the followers of Dworkin and MacKinnon define what feminism is to me. I just feel that I don't need that label to support equal rights for all genders. I don't mind if someone calls me a feminist, but if someone calls me not a feminist because of my views on sex and pornography, then I don't really feel like arguing with them- I find it more helpful to say "It doesn't change what I believe, so call me whatever you like". Otherwise I just end up in an arguement about what constitutes a "true" feminist, which really has no practical outcomes.
I certainly believe that feminism has a place in the world, and that everyone really should learn about its history, and respect that history. But I'm more willing to fight for the issues than for the label.
You know, part of the reason women make less than men in the same positions is a lot of us take time off for work. My mom and a male friend of hers were hired by an environmental consulting firm at the same time, same position, same pay, same 3% raise per year. She took five years off to raise me and my sister, then came back to work at the same salary as when she left. But her male friend was getting 3% raises every year. So when my mom returns to work she's given her old job back, and is payed only 88% of what her male counterpart is payed.
Sure, there is still some discrimination out there but let's look at the whole picture.
Actually, the 88% figure is in terms of a single year salary, not salary averaged over multiple years.
Events like the one you're describing certainly do happen. But that'd only make me ask this: why are women more likely to take years off from working than men (and thus be put into these situations)? Could it be that women don't have the kind of access to child care, health care systems, family care support systems, and other such things that would enable them to continue full-time work even if they had a baby, a sick parent or kid, or an illness of their own? Could it be that women are still expected to be the ones who take time out from their professional lives to cope with these things, whereas men are not generally expected to do so?
Is this difference logical or necessary (i.e., is there any reason it'd HAVE to be a woman who took time off to do this, or can a man just as well perform these tasks), or is it merely one more piece of evidence that women are expected to give more of their lives and more of their energy to unpaid work than men are?
Or, in other words, why is it that no one thinks it odd if a woman takes a year off from work because she has a baby, but if the baby's FATHER were to do the same thing, it'd raise a lot of eyebrows and get him a lot of comments?
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