I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Posts Tagged ‘Defining Feminism

What’s in a name?

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Not surprisingly, I suppose, I am not alone in my past ambivalence to the term “feminism”.  While in the past few years I’ve found my way to again actively embracing the term, there are still plenty of people who seem to think that “feminism” is not just about the radical notion that women are full fledged human beings with agency and that there is some sort of monolithic feminist agenda.

There’s not.

No, really

Is there a radical feminist manifesto?  Well, sure.  There are plenty of people and articles and essays who try to define feminism and what it should be.  But in the end, there are almost as many different “definitions” of feminism as there are people who consider the term.  Valerie Solanas doesn’t speak for all of us.  Hell, I’d venture to say she doesn’t speak for many of us.  Andrea Dworkin, Gloria Steinem, a lot of the second wave feminists who get trotted out in debates about what feminism is – they are inspirational women on whose hard work a movement has grown.  But they are not the arbiters of what feminism is, or what it can and should be.

White feminists – myself included – need to get our collective heads out of our collective asses.  We need to recognize that feminism – right now, today, in 2008 – reinforces white privilege.  Feminists should know our history.  We should know and acknowledge that Elizabeth Cady Stanton engaged in race baiting rhetoric in the interests of fighting for women’s right to vote.  We should know and acknowledge that the women who are viewed by the mainstream press are woefully silent on issues of race, or embarrassing often as not when they are not.  

We need to take back the movement.  We need to listen to people who want to be our allies.  Feminism is not just about people who look like me.  Feminism is not about lipstick and disposable razors and (not) wearing skirts or bras.  It’s not about menstrual cups.  It’s about breaking down barriers.  It’s about putting 18 million cracks in a glass ceiling and about recognizing that gender, race and class privilege are not individual issues.  It’s about all women leveling the playing field.

That’s my manifesto.


Written by emandink

July 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm