I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about feminism lately: at conferences, in classes, in conversations, in papers, in the blogs that I am reading. This blog is unapologetically feminist, and many of these posts are inspired by someone else’s feminist musings.
Feminism, for me, comes blended with intersectionality, and is first and foremost about equity (read: justice) for everyone. Its about creating spaces that are safe and inclusive for everyone and recognizing diversity as a strength. Its about locating personal stories within the social context we live in and understanding that we are all more than labels, and that labels alone don’t capture identity. Its about giving people space to make choices about their lives: to have kids, or not to have kids (contraception, abortion); to stay at home with your kids, or to opt for day care; to have sex, or not have sex; to marry or not to marry. Women are diverse, and so is feminism.
Sometimes, I think feminism’s biggest limitation is that it is called feminism because people often have such adverse and emotional reactions to the word. People are afraid of associating themselves with feminism, for fear they will find themselves surrounded by [insert-your-negative-stereotype-of-a-feminist-here]. That’s unfortunate for many reasons – a major one being feminism is about a lot of things and can be a lot of things. Although there are many different brands of feminism, what they all come down to is a belief in equity.
I also have major reservations about making the above statement – that feminism’s biggest limitation is that it is called feminism. ‘Feminism’ is not a bad word, its not a dirty word, it shouldn’t be an offensive word. Feminism doesn’t need to change because of people’s misunderstandings – we need to help people pause, think and reflect on what that word means.
And so, I choose to use the word feminist, to describe myself and my beliefs as much as possible. I say ‘feminist’ and use it unapologetically, in hopes that maybe using the word builds the movement, contributing to its “strength and ubiquity” quote another brilliant blog post from feministing.org that goes on to say:
Because [feminism] is a movement, and it’s growing every day. Maybe there would be a bit less confusion and taboo around the term if we all claimed the feminist label in corroboration with the other identities we occupy and hats we wear on a regular basis.
If equity is something that you embrace and support, maybe the feminist label is one you should consider. Nevertheless, thinking about it and talking about it needs to be part of ongoing conversation about what feminism is and where it is going in the third wave and beyond.
*Start the conversation: comment away! I promise to respond.