There are Many Feminisms
Rose F reblogged this discussion- Feminist Friday: The Label Revisited
(Read the earlier discussion about whether feminism is still a useful political label here. )
I was raised a feminist- and a Christian (United Methodist to be specific) as I grew up and became more aware of the wider world, I realized that much like the social justice-focused Christianity I was raised with contrasted with what other people called the same religion, so did feminism. My mother stayed at home with me as a kid, she did most of the housework, cleaning and cooking. She supported my dad as his career led him from state to state. Later she went back to college and finished her degree. Is my mother a perfect feminist? Is my father? Am I? Sometimes I see her self-consciousness about her body, the belittling comments she makes about what other women wear (that some might call “slut-shaming”) I remember the classist attitudes my parents sometimes have shown, that I’ve had to unlearn, and so have they- especially as they’ve found themselves slipping out of the middle-class.
I went to Augsburg College, and took women’s studies classes there. I already knew the practice of feminism, it was there I learned the theory. I encountered many women my age who said “I’m not a feminist…but.” This annoyed me, and made me feel more attached to the term. Of course a stay at home mom can be a feminist- my mother and my grandmother are (were) both feminists. They love men and married them and had children and are feminine in their own ways- but neither do they judge women who lived their lives differently.
A point my partner made to me, is that someone else’s feminism may not look like it to me, but it may be feminist within their own cultural context. He told me this in defense of his mother, who has stuck by the church of her upbringing- the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod, a denomination in which women are not allowed to teach adults or serve on the church council, let alone be ministers. I still am doubtful of whether I’d consider her a feminist, because to me that means challenging sexism in a more active way. She likes to keep the peace and not rock the boat. Yet I know, if someone was making sexist comments in front of her, she would probably confront them.
I would say that feminist has the same problems that “liberal” and “progressive” both do- they too are used as pejoratives by conservatives. These terms all have both historically and in present times included white middle/upper-class, non-disabled women and men who don’t get other issues. Liberal actually means a supporter of capitalism, an economic system which I am at the very least, skeptical of, and progressive relates to the concept of the “myth of progress“. So I can understand if some Black women (and other women of color) prefer to call themselves womanists, and if some disabled women don’t identify with the term. Maybe feminism reinforces the gender binary, or implies that we don’t care about men and the ways that patriarchy and other systems of oppression hurt them. I’d rather redefine feminism for myself. Alternative terms have been suggested- but face it, no one knows an “equalitarian” is. Humanism means something else– and some humanists are not very feminist!
I’d rather not waste a bunch of time over telling people what “real feminism” is or isn’t- much like how I avoid all the debates over what “real paganism” is. What I will say is- this is my kind of feminism, and that (trans-exclusive, ableist, Girls Gone Wild, Lean In, et al.) isn’t. Other feminisms- like womanism/Black feminism or Muslim or Mormon feminism- may not be *my kind of feminism* but it doesn’t mean I have an objection to them overall, they are just not based on my experiences in my cultural context. I can learn from them and appreciate them and take some insights to further develop my own feminism, while acknowledging where I get my ideas.
What matters to me is not what labels people use, but the actions I see them taking.
(Note: explanation of *my kind of feminism* forthcoming)
Entry filed under: Autism/Asperger's, Concepts & Definitions, Ethics, Feminism/Gender. Tags: disabled feminism, feminism, feminist philosophy, intersectionality, political labels, womanism, women's studies.