But These Feminists, Who ARE They? WTFFeminism Part 2

Feminist Majority Foundation members at the March for Women's Lives in 2004

“I identify as a feminist because I believe that all people should be equal in all sense of the word”-~-Emma Keyes

Back in November of 2011, Danielle Burch of Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist did an excellent piece called “The Faces of Feminism” on her blog.  She asked readers to send in pictures of themselves and put together a collection of photos of self-identified feminists.

Looking at this photo collection, it’s pretty obvious that feminists can look like anyone, come from anywhere.  But the important word in my description of the people featured on Danielle’s blog isn’t “feminist”, it’s “self-identified”.  There are a lot of different kinds of feminists, but we don’t all act the same way, and we may not all like to use the word feminist.  So my question for this post is: why is that?  Why do some people identify as feminists?  Why do others choose not to?  These are some of the answers I got:

“I guess I never really thought of myself as a feminist-~-I’m not an activist, I don’t go to rallies.  But I do believe that women need to be treated equally to men, that women’s empowerment is important, that women need to speak up and demand better in their lives.  So if that makes you a feminist then, I guess I am”-~-anonymous

“I guess I associate feminism with a movement of the past, and I consider myself more modern.  I think I also associate it with women’s right to vote and to have equal employment opportunities to men”–Nicole Davies, GetItCalled.com 

“I view myself as a feminist because I believe in the right to choose what happens to one’s own body, I don’t view gender as a binary, I don’t view myself as inferior or superior to men or those of another race, and I want to raise my children in a rape-free world. I love my body, flaws and all, and I accept that not everyone thinks like me, but together we can work to change the world”Erin Kratina, State University of New York at Old Westbury ’13

There was also the issue of male feminists, and feminists who are really feminine.  Some people argue that a woman can’t be feminine and feminist; I would disagree (as would several of our readers): if a woman must be manly in order to be equal to men and to champion equality, then women are not truly equal.  Only when a woman can be feminine and still taken seriously will feminists have succeeded.  And on the subject of male feminists, most of our readers stated that men can definitely be feminists.  One of our male readers submitted this statement:

“Feminism” wasn’t a word I used until college after a semester-long Nietzsche binge. By then I’d learned enough to figure out that living a fulfilling life means creating, enjoying beauty, and inspiring others without hatred or malice. But when I was introduced to the work of Simone de Beauvoir—and saw again the word “feminist” in a proper context—I learned how society could make these things all possible. And a society that ensures every individual the right to live a good, creative, and self-defining life resonated with me. Why wouldn’t we want to be free of prejudices—like the prejudices that patriarchy creates for both women and men? It’s tragic to exclude women and anyone without “heteronormative” qualities—the strong majority of humankind—from defining themselves, without being shoved into rigid, dishonest, and unnecessary definitions of gender. 

-Corey Nyhus, Adelphi University

There are many problems that feminists today face: they are told that they are crazy, or that feminism is pointless.  Sometimes we are called horrible names-~-I personally have been told that I’m an affront to American values or that I should go back to the kitchen.  Especially when feminists are increasingly focused on things like sexual and reproductive rights, or focus on things that people deem “nit-picky” (like the lack of encouragement for women to go into certain fields), they are sometimes subjected to either generalized or even personal verbal attacks.  So why do we bother?

When I consider the gains that have been made in the last century in order so that I may live in a world where I am free to make my own choices, free to be considered an equal among men and have access to the same rights, I feel compelled to carry that burden, not only to honor the women who came before me but also the women who will follow. Sometimes, that burden can be pretty heavy, like when pro-life activists call me a slut for standing up for a woman’s right to choose, or when I see the huge gaps in leadership among men and women. We are still a long way from equality. But I’m not discouraged. We women are used to fighting.

-Abbe Ramanan, Women’s Caucus Director for the American University College Democrats


~ by Randi Saunders on March 16, 2012.

One Response to “But These Feminists, Who ARE They? WTFFeminism Part 2”

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