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Grassroots activist, feminist, sociologist, poop talk pro, future foster mom, travel whore, thrift store junky, music and food consumer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

#WomenAgainstFeminism

This blog post is in response to the foolishness I came across this week. So apparently there are women in the US who feel pretty strongly about feminism such that they are anti-feminist. You have to see this for yourself! (click here) The amount of hearts that translate into likes by women illustrate how successful backlashes against feminism have been. We live in a society in which the quick go-to's for such displays of ignorance are attributed to lack of education. Lack of education does play a role, but what plays a larger role is the diffusion of media. Note that this link sends you to a (social) media site! As I read the cards, being the feminist that I am, I did not get angry, but rather amused at the claims being made. These women obviously do not know what feminism is at its core or what feminisms are in practice. Lets take a moment to address a couple of these claims about feminism shall we?

 
I regret to inform you...well not really...that your gender IS a political category. Feminism did not do that. So whether you want to acknowledge your agenda as such or not, it is what it is. I will just forward you to debates on reproductive rights. Whose bodies are being debated? I'll wait. 


There has been a longstanding debate amongst feminist as to whether men can be feminist, but feminism isn't some agenda to make women the dominant group over men. This conceptualization of feminism ignores that feminist theorists have spent the last 40 years trying to figure out how to get us to a postgender world such that people are allowed to be different and equal.This conceptualization also ignores the role feminists have played in getting people to see that patriarchy hurts men too; albeit hurts men more! 
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Let's get serious about feminism for a moment. What is feminism? I'll just provide a brief review below. I don't provide more because I know how conservative skeptics work. Conservative refers to people who want to keep things as they are or who want to return to some mythical time of the past that never happened. Skeptics think everything is debatable and all new information is biased. I'm a skeptic EXCEPT I am also a critical thinker. If you claim to be a critical thinker then you have to be OPEN to new information and possess a willingness and desire for more information on a topic. Thinking really hard about things does not make you a critical thinker. Sorry to disappoint you! So conservative skeptics will read the info below and think "that's just her opinion" or "of course, she'd say that because she's a feminist." For all of you who think you know or want to learn more about feminism, seek out the books listed after my 2 cents.  
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Tales from the Crypt (b/this Tumblr page is ultimately claiming feminism should die)
The women’s liberation movement was far more complex than the civil rights movement and arguably so because of how the civil rights movement played out for its women participants. Women’s participation in civil rights and anti-Vietnam War organizations led to the conception of women’s organizations and the women’s liberation movement (Gelb 1996:16-22; Peet & Hartwick 2009:241). There is a difference between what people think feminism is and what it is by definition. I offer you general descriptions from two different sources:

Peet and Hartwick (2009:240) --- Feminism is made up of several diverse social theories, political movements, and philosophies. Most of these adopt a critical stance toward the existing social relations, especially gendered relations. Feminist theory looks at the origins, characteristics, and forms of gender inequality in order to focus on gender politics, power relations, and sexuality. Feminism is consciously political and activist. Its politics centers on immediate issues like reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence as well as such long-term issues as patriarchy, stereotyping, objectification, and oppression.

Myra Marx Ferree (2012:294) --- Feminism is about “activism for the purpose of challenging and changing women’s subordination to men.” “Feminism is a goal, a target for social change, a purpose informing activism, not a constituency or a strategy. Feminist mobilizations are informed by feminist theory, beliefs, and practices…” She goes on to say that “[f]eminism as a goal can be adopted by any gender” (294).

We can see from these definitions that feminism is a complex concept. Be weary of any attempt at describing feminism in a sentence or two. At the foundation, there is the understanding that gender equality is imperatively incorporated into any efforts claiming to be feminist, but that is not ALL feminism is. We're humans, and humans like brief explanations and categories. We like to pretend that everything can be simplified when in actuality nothing is as simple as we want it to be. Nothing.

Nancy Hewitt edits No Permanent Waves; a book about how subsequent-generation feminists like to think of themselves as doing something new, when they are instead, participating in an ongoing discussion of (gender) equality. So whenever you're wondering about the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminists just be mindful that its women distinguishing themselves and not really a "matter of fact" distinction. Also, if you identify as a feminist or claim to be an expert on feminism, please check this book out. Doing so will prevent claims that have already been taken, which eliminates the need for you to perpetuate anti-feminist discourse.

Despite the disputes of authenticity and claims of ingenuity among feminists, feminism has really asked the hard questions and pushed us further in conceptualizing ourselves as human beings. So just like anything you may think you know all about, such as race, class, gender, sexuality, you don't know all about it. If you would like to become more knowledgeable about the knowledges of feminisms then I've listed some books below to get you started. Enjoy!
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Gary, Ann and Marilyn Pearsall (eds). 1996. Women, Knowledge, and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy, (2nd ed). New York and London: Routledge.

Hill-Collins, Patricia. 1991. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge.

Faludi, Susan. 1991. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

Ferree, Myra Marx and Aili Mari Tripp (eds). 2006. Global Feminism: Transnational women’s activism, organizing, and human rights. New York: New York University Press.  

Hawkesworth, Mary. 2012. Political Worlds of Women: Activism, Advocacy, and Governance in the Twenty-First Century. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Hesford, Victoria. 2013. Feeling Women’s Liberation. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Hercus, Cheryl. 2005. Stepping Out of Line: Becoming and Being Feminist. New York: Routledge.

Hewitt, Nancy (ed). 2010. No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 2003. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Morgan, Robin (ed). 1970. Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from The Women’s Liberation Movement. New York: Vintage Books.







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