At the end of October last year, I made my first venture into blogging about feminism.
Almost a year later, I look back and am sort of amazed at how much I’ve learned just from reading books, other blogs, and doing my own research.
I’ve learned a lot.
So what’s changed? After learning so much, some of my thoughts are pretty much the same, and some of it is different… and some of it is still pretty jumbled!
Here’s what feminism means to me now, a year after dedicating a ton of time to learning about it.
1. Feminism is about equality.
This hasn’t changed for me. Despite the famous thought that feminists are man-haters who want female supremacy, this is just not true.
Feminism has simply been trying to help women achieve equality, to be treated no less than men are. It fights for people to be treated fairly without regard to gender.
Merriam-Webster defines feminism as simply:
1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
Where is there anything about “female supremacy”?!
Feminism just acknowledges that women have struggled more than men for a while now. (Like, hundreds and thousands of years.)
The general goal is actually just equality… at least today, and at least for me.
2. There is no “right” way to be a feminist.
And there’s no “right” kind of feminism, either. There’s only the one that you align yourself with, the one that you believe in. (Considering the arguments I recently had with other feminists, that is definitely a big thing I learned this year.)
I used to think that if people believed certain things about feminism that conflicted with what I believed to be true, they were just plain wrong.
But I’ve learned that with so many different kinds of feminism, it’s kind of hard to say any one of them is the right one. In fact, I don’t even think I fit in with any one type of feminism — there are things I like and dislike about a lot of the different theories out there.
So I’ve learned to be more open-minded (though still critical), about different people’s views… and I’ve learned to be okay with disagreeing with other feminists. It’s a good thing, I’ve found — it makes me think about my beliefs and why believe in them, which is always important!
I’ve also learned that people are feminist in different ways. There are some things that are more feminist than others to me, like choosing not to use misogynistic language or dressing for yourself instead of a man, but I’m sure another feminist would tell me I’m no feminist if I listen to Eminem or choose to dress sexy one day to get my partner’s attention.
Everyone just does it differently, and that’s honestly okay. There’s no way to be a perfect feminist!
3. Feminism means thinking.
Okay, that sounds kind of weird, but I’m serious.
Since feminists can be feminist in different ways, we have to think about what we’re doing. It might seem pointless to be “aware” that you’re wearing makeup because you want that guy to think you look more attractive than you feel, but it isn’t. It means you know what society is teaching you. It means you’re making the choice to wear makeup, and you aren’t mindlessly following expectations society throws at you.
And that’s the thing: to me, feminism is about choice.
4. Feminism doesn’t have to include men.
I’m not saying it doesn’t include them, because feminism totally does help men — it just doesn’t have to.
There is this idea among some feminists that by saying, “But wait! Feminism helps men, too!” we are apologizing for our movement and for the work that many feminists have done before us. They say it’s like saying we have an important cause, but then making it about the men instead.
And obviously, that would be kind of silly.
If feminism didn’t help men, would it be so bad? If it was only about women achieving the same treatment as men, it would not be less important. We’re talking about half the population of the world, here. We’re saying half of the population is worse off than the other half.
Why should it have to be about the half that has it better?
So while feminism does recognize the unfairness that patriarchy creates for men while it works hard to improve women’s lives, feminists really don’t need to apologize.
It’s not going to stop being important. Ever.
5. Feminists have every right to be angry.
A year ago I said that if your experience with feminists is that they’re all angry women, you haven’t really experienced real feminism.
I still think that’s true — if your impression of feminists is screaming women shoving feminism down your throat, I’m really sorry, because that’s not what most feminists are trying to do.
However, it’s completely fair for women to be angry.
Almost everything in our lives are stacked against women! Women had to fight to get the right to vote. We’re still fighting for the right to control our own bodies, whether it be getting access to birth control and facilities, or not being shunned and shamed for our sexual choices (or clothing choices!). We automatically get paid less than men. And we have double the amount of work to do, because women are expected to do all the housework even if they’re a working mom. There’s also the fact that we’re considered “bitchy” if we want our voice to be heard… and we aren’t fairly represented in pretty much any company, or the freaking government that runs our country.
And that’s not even getting started on the extra challenges women of colour face, like being paid even less, automatically being seen as a sexual object because they’re “exotic,” and being shut down even more.
So while feminists are really trying to make good change, we do have every right to be angry. I mean, if we weren’t angry, nothing would change! We’d be stuck not being allowed to have an opinion, forced to live our lives how others want us to. And women of colour would be even worse off, just completely ignored!
We really do want to just get these damn rights and be done with it! Seriously.
6. Feminism is not perfect.
It really is not. Even though there are so many different kinds of it, not one of them is perfect.
But that’s okay. We learn from our mistakes and we change. We acknowledge the failures and keep striving for successes. We keep learning and talking about it. We work harder.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? We’ve come this far, but we have a long way to go.
I’m really excited to be a part of it!
What does feminism mean to you? Share with me in the comments below!
And while you’re at it, sign up to get your copy of The Quick & Dirty Guide To Feminism so you can learn as much as you can too! Just enter your email in the form above the comments section 🙂
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