Monday, June 23, 2008

My feminism, my life

Cross-posted at The Feminist Underground.

As far as my definition of feminism goes, it's been really hard to come up with. When I first began calling myself a feminist during my first term at college (Fall 2007), my boyfriend had a really hard time understanding. We had several difficult discussions in which he asked me to explain what feminism was so he could better understand where I was coming from. I finally got through to him by explaining that feminism, for me, was a general understanding that women suffer many inequalities that do not exist for men because of the society that we live in which has been structured in many ways to favor men. I then explained that the way in which I practice feminism is by recognizing those instances in which people, the government, the media, etc. treat women unjustly and I call them out for it because no change will come if people are so used to sexism that they don't even notice it. I feel as if true equality cannot come about if our society does not first recognize that their are inequalities and decide how to address them. That is all feminism is about - equality. And true equality certainly isn't going to come about if we merely put a band-aid on the problem of sexism and pretend its all better. As a feminist, I try to dig out the problems in our society and bring them to the surface so they can be properly addressed.

Some of the ways I practice feminism in my life:

This post is a little illustration of how I practice feminism in my daily life by recognizing misogyny in everyday media, like the music that I constantly listen to. I realized, while writing this post, that although some of the songs by this band (Nickelback) clearly were offensive and sexist, others were less so. I had a difficult time critiquing them because I like their music, which hurts me as a feminist because I know it's not always respectful.

I also try to fight misogyny in the media by refusing to purchase "women's" magazines which I feel are damaging to women's self-esteem and confidence. My action project for my first gender and women's studies class involved this idea.

I also call out other media, like television shows or websites, that are sexist (here and here). When I do that, I get a lot of negative responses, like people think I am acting superior to them because they like those shows. Even when I try to explain why I won't watch certain shows, people often choose to ignore me out of spite for my supposed superiority complex. That has led to a lot of conflict in myself - Can a feminist like some misogynist media and really call him/herself a feminist? I have decided that that is indeed possible, as long as one does not passively accept the misogyny and is able to identify and recognize it.

I also practice feminism on a slightly less-than-daily basis when I am in school by doing a feminist radio hour during which my co-host and I talk about feminism and try to get casual radio listeners involved in discussing the sexism that exists around us everyday. This has been a really empowering experience for me so far because I have had numerous fellow students tell me that they listened to our radio show and they were enlightened about many of the problems that still exist in our society when it comes to gender equality. The same can be said about blogging, which is a big way in which I practice feminism in my life.


LynnAlexander said...

Just wanted to pop by from Feminist Underground and say hello, and thank you for the interesting post and discussion.

Ben Varkentine said...

I've always liked a definition of feminism that I think comes from Glora Steinem:

The radical belief that women are people.

But then, I'm a guy, whada I know?


Habladora said...

I just wanted to let you know that, in addition to all the comments here and at our site, several of my real-life friends have mentioned that this post struck a particular cord with them.
And, Ben - I've always liked that definition too.

Amelia said...

Thanks for the comment, Habladora. It's a great feeling knowing that my writing means something to others. :) Thannks for giving me the opportunity to share this piece with a broader base of readers.