Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Feminism is Fun to Learn/ This May Just be my Womanifesta

Greeting Feminipods!

Yesterday I wrote my first official post all about the title of this blog and I made some controversial statements.  I said that everyone should consider themselves a feminist.  I know this is potentially inflammatory because I’ve said this in real life and I’m aware that it seems obnoxious to tell people what causes they should believe in or identify with. 

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? The definition of Feminism is 
1.the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
sometimes initial capital letter  ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
feminine character.  
Nothing about bra- burning here (which is actually a myth, it never happened—though some women did throw their bras in the trash at a famous protest and I think that after the fact some women have done it to show awkward misinformed solidarity).    Feminism to me is a mixture of six components (this is pretty bare bones, feminism is deliciously complex in practice) 1) fighting patriarchy (which hurts both men and women) 2) empowering yourself 3) establishing solidarity with women around the world who deal with oppression 4) educating yourself and others 5) addressing rape culture 6) being positive (sex positive, tolerant of others, open to change, open to life)

To most reasonable people, the ideas of being tolerant, stopping violence, educating people and spreading positivity are pretty admirable goals.  So why is it that when these concepts are applied to women’s rights they become cringe worthy?  Well, I’ll give you three reasons:  Firstly, we are steeped in thousands of years of patriarchal tradition.  All the successful western cultures that come to mind gave females a secondary status in society.  Women have been considered inferior for centuries and our bodies are charged with communal ideas about purity and the traditional family structure.  This goes right into the second reason, which is fear of change.  Activism by definition means bringing about change and this mixed with the deep seated feelings mentioned above can make things complicated.  Change means embracing the unknown and it’s easier to keep with what’s comfortable.  Another obstacle in accepting feminism is the politicization of vilified women’s issues such as birth control, abortion and paycheck inequality.  Sometimes it seems that there’s so much anger and controversy that even starting to address these problems seems pointless and frustrating.

I actually lied before, I have a fourth reason and that is bad public image.  We feminists have a bit of a PR crisis on our hands and people believe a lot of negative stereotypes.  A lot of folks seem to connect the women’s movement with radical second- wave feminism (of the 1960s and 70s).  While radicalism may seem necessary in some women’s struggle with patriarchy, most of us have at least some positive relationships with men and besides, we need to live out in the world and being explosively angry all the time is exhausting.  To be honest, what this article (and entire blog) is trying to do and what I always try to do when discussing feminism is make it appealing and happy and positive.  Who wants to join a movement that’s grumpy all the time (grumpiness against patriarchy is totally justified and should be harnessed, but it’s definitely not the only side to women’s rights)?

This brings me to my final point: feminism is fun and important (fimportunt?).  The women’s movement has helped me improve myself image, be more understanding of others, broadened my mind and connect with G-d.  It’s different for everyone but feminism has given me a purpose and I am an infinitely happier person because of it.  Yes, I struggle and debate and cry.  I wish people understood that this is my life mission and insulting it means insulting me.  I wish people loved themselves and respected others.  People say why do we need feminism, isn’t everything all good now?  Nothing will ever be perfect, and I choose to see this as a good thing.  Feminism has evolved, is evolving and always will evolve, it will exist as long as women exist, and I’m not going anywhere.

a peek into the future :P

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