Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why Feminism Anyway?

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
Sometimes I live in a bubble. It’s a bubble I think we all frequently create for ourselves, where we’re surrounded by people who think like us and are open to our thoughts. The upside is that this bubble is safe, comfortable, and friendly. The downside is that our bubbles don’t often challenge us and that comfort can turn into complacency.
In the interest of avoiding complacency, when I meet people who don’t initially seem on board with feminism or who are actively against the label, I do like to engage in an occasional discussion. Frequently this issue arises, “I’m on board with equality and all that, but I just don’t like the term ‘feminism’. It’s so angry (militant, man-hating, self-righteous etc.)” Or, in other friendly discussions I’ll hear “I’m not a feminist but…” (In fact, celebrities even promote this idea, which I’ve written about a bit before.)
What it drills down to is that many people have a problem with the term, not the actual theory behind feminism. Studies substantiate this claim. Even though a majority of people understand gender bias exists, they can’t imagine referring to themselves as feminists. Of course, there are extremists who actually don’t believe in equality between men and women, but for the most part the general public’s objection to feminism is based upon its bad reputation and not its actual theory. In these discussions, after someone has stated their discomfort with feminism and I’ve explained what it’s really all about (the end to sexist oppression) the next question is always, “So why not go for a different term? ‘Feminism’ has such a bad connotation.” Some of my friends and acquaintances even go as far as to identify as equalists.
But this is where I simply must stand firm. For me, part of sexism is the systematic devaluation of everything associated with women; feminism included. For me to identify as a feminist is key to my work as someone who rejects sexism (and all the other –isms for that matter.) Giving up the term would be like a small symbol of giving into the idea that to stand up for women is the same as being an angry man-hater. Clearly, being pro-girl is not the same thing as being anti-boy. Feminism really is for everybody (thanks bell hooks!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog has strict comment moderation intended to preserve a safe space. Moderation is managed solely by the blog author. As such, even comments made in good faith will be on a short delay, so please do not attempt to resubmit your comment if it does not immediately appear. Discussion and thoughtful participation are encouraged, but abusive comments of any type will never be published. The blog author reserves the right to publish/delete any comments for any reason, at her sole discretion.

TL;DR Troll comments are never published, so don't waste your time.