Being Feminist: WTFFeminism Wrap-Up

If nothing else, writing the WTFFeminism series has helped highlight for me just how complicated and diverse feminism is, and just how complicated and diverse feminists can be.  I’ve had submissions for this series from friends, from strangers, from other feminist bloggers…I’ve had people give me answers I would have bet money I’d see and people send in responses I NEVER would have seen coming.  But at the end of the day, no matter what issue you see as most important, regardless of whether you think feminists should be rocking work boots or high heels, despite the fact that some of you aren’t sure you love how feminism sometimes looks or how people talk about it, this one fact remains the same: we are all on the same team.

I was going to give a big wrap-up on being feminist, but instead, I am actually going to share with you a piece written in response to my call for submissions.  I have been quoting and excerpting from it throughout March, but I’d like to share the entire piece with you.  It is by Liza Wolff-Francis, the author of the blog Matrifocal Point, and before I post it, I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone who asked me questions, sent in submissions, put out a call for submissions, read this series, posted comments, talked about it with their friends, and in general helped to make the conversation WTFFeminism possible: you guys are great, and I could never have done it without you.

And now, without further ado, What Does It Mean To Be Feminist by Liza Wolff-Francis:

To be a feminist is to know there is inequality in our world based on gender, to understand that inequality is unjust, and to want to change it.

 

To be a feminist is to be a part of a long history of people who have fought for women’s right to participate equally to men in the society, for women’s right to be in charge of themselves and their bodies and not owned by a man, and for women to have a voice in the world that is heard and valued.

To be a feminist is to be a part of an ever-changing revolutionary movement started by women for women’s liberation from a system that oppresses everyone, especially women. It is to recognize that with the passing of time and with gains made by women, the patriarchal system restructures its insidious oppression, pushing the revolution of feminism to remember past struggle while also reorganizing its tactics to remake itself to continue the fight.

To be a feminist is to understand that the fewer rights we have to make decisions for ourselves and for our bodies, the more we are enslaved. It is to understand that women have a history of both using their bodies as the only means of control they have, as well as a history of others trying to control their bodies through many means, including but not limited to: rape, sexual assault, physical violence, forced sterilization, genital mutilation, child marriages, lack of availability of safe abortions, lack of birth control, acid burning, sex (abuse) slavery and trafficking. To be a feminist is to understand that women must be able to make decisions for their bodies, which includes: whether we have sex with someone else, who we decide to have sex with, when we decide to have sex, whether we want to be sterilized, whether we want our genitals mutilated, whether we want to prevent a pregnancy, whether we want an abortion, how we want to dress. To take away a woman’s right to choose what she needs and wants for her body in any given situation is to take away her humanity and return her to an age when she was property and legally unable to make decisions for herself.

To be a feminist is to understand feminism as a movement set in place not to hate men, but to change the patriarchal system, which has institutionalized inequality. It is to understand that a world set up with some people in power over others means no one is able to excel to the best of their abilities. It is to understand that men can and should be feminists. It is to see that men who are feminists celebrate the fact that women are full human beings and should have the rights to act as such. It is to see that men who are feminists also celebrate men’s right to be full human beings, which is discouraged under the strict gender roles of a patriarchal society.

To be a feminist means you examine ‘traditional’ gender role expectations and how they are problematic for all people in the society, lead to inequality, and to violence against women.

To be a feminist means you condemn violence against women in any form, physical, emotional, sexual, and verbal. It also means that you do not (by your silence or otherwise) condone violence against women by anyone: man, woman, government, war, etc.

To be a feminist is to support women in being the best they can be and allow them the space and the forum for whatever might evolve.

To be a feminist is to understand that women are pitted against each other and that women must strive not to ‘hate-on,’ put down, ostracize, or bad-mouth other women for any reason and that if we express negative feelings about other women, those expressions should not be connected to gender. It is to understand that the patriarchal system must have men on top for it to survive, therefore it must always undercut women. The best way for women to be undercut and oppressed is for women to control, hate, and keep other women down. To be a feminist means to continue to examine oneself and to not hate other women.

To be a feminist is to give thanks to all of the people of all races and cultures around the world who have fought for women over the years and to recognize that feminist women today are in that same progression of women’s history in the fight for equality.

 

To be a feminist is to be proud to be a woman.

Hayley and I would also like to thank, not only those who submitted and were part of  this series but all of the amazing women and men who are part of this movement, who inspire us, and who have stuck with this cause through the good and the bad, even when we’ve been called sluts or told to go make people sandwiches.  You are all wonderful.

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~ by Randi Saunders on March 30, 2012.

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