What’s in a name?

Over the last week or so, feminism has been on my mind.  Rather, it’s been on my mind slightly more forcefully than it normally is.  It all started with this post by Bella last Saturday and has been continued by this post by Clarissa.

The question, for me, has been “What is feminism?”  What does it mean to me in my every day life?  How does actively identifying as a feminist influence what I do?  How does it influence how I relate to others?

To answer the first question.  To me, feminism is an ideal in which both women and men (and everyone in-between) has equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities.  Where everyone is free to make decisions for themselves, rather than allowing society at large to define you fully.  To me, this means that you may choose to do something that is the norm.  The point is, you’re choosing it for yourself.  I believe that everyone has a responsibility to make their corner of the world a better place.  I believe in equal pay for equal work.  It doesn’t matter what biological sex or gender identity you have.

I realize, of course, that society does influence what we do.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re thinking critically about the decisions that you’re making.

In everyday life  feminism means that I’m actively thinking about what I’m doing (most of the time) and trying to be better every day.  My yard stick is myself, nobody else.  When I say things like “I have the wrong body” (which was actually said by me this week when I tried on every single shirt in the women’s clothing section at Target in several sizes and none of them looked good on me, it was a low point) I try to think about it and realize that this statement is not true.  I have the right body, it’s just the wrong one for today’s fashions (which is certainly not my fault.  It just means I need to get better at sewing, haha.)

I have to admit, often identifying as a feminist makes interacting with others awkward (although, I was pretty awkward before, so maybe it’s just me).  When my co-workers announce they’re on a new diet I have to fight the urge to tell them that dieting usually just makes you fat.  Instead I congratulate them on working toward being more healthy.  It’s really hard, but I think I’m getting better.

What does feminism mean for you?


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12 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Ah, the question of what is feminism.

    I call myself a feminist, but it is often more difficult to use when referring to those who are not White, as persons of colour and lesbians have often been thrown under the bus by feminists.

  2. Indeed, I can definitely attempt to understand. While I could never understand fully what it’s like to be a person or color or another minority group, I definitely know what it is to be thrown under the bus.

    1. I’d say that it is not easy, but it is something that I’ve always had to deal with, from people touching my hair without permission to being followed by the police to having unjust assumptions made without any knowledge of who I am and so forth. It is what it is, as much as it sucks, and we can only work towards making for a better tomorrow.

  3. Lady, I love your take on the subject! It’s personal and heartfelt! You know I consider myself a feminist–a feminist who’s constantly questioning the ins and outs of feminism. Has the movement helped women? Absolutely! Do you we still have a long way to go? Absolutely! Nevertheless, we are slowly inching our way to equality. When that will be a reality, I have no idea. I just hope I’m alive to see it! 🙂

    1. Thanks Bella! I consider myself to be the same. I don’t know that we’ll ever fully live up to the Utopian ideal that feminist philosophy presents to us, but I think it’s a worthy goal that we can come extremely close to.

  4. I have the same views as you. For me, Feminism has always been about equal rights and equal choice. Women shouldn’t be held back just because they were ‘unfortunate’ enough to be born women.

    And Justin makes an important point: speaking as a woman of colour, I’ve noticed that there are different expectations and viewpoints regarding male and female roles amongst Caribbean/African people, and certain roles are thrust upon us from other ethnic groups.

    And I hear you about the awkwardness. I think it comes from the feminist stereotype of an angry, baldheaded, man hater 😛

    1. I enjoyed reading your post. Well written; it hit how people perceive labels right on the nose and is a great reminder that we must continue be true to who we are despite how people lump us with labels.

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