MY DEFINITION OF FEMINISM
Feminism proclaims that women matter; women listening to each other, empowering each other, and working together across racial, class and other differences to improve all our lives. Feminism is not only for financially secure, white women.
Feminism is a social movement with both private and public dimensions. While I love books with strong woman characters, I do not consider all strong women to be feminist. While I respect and acknowledge women’s pain, I do not consider the expression of that pain is always feminist.
Feminism means women working together to address structural, societal problems that all women face. Women can also work with men and men can be supportive of feminism, but women must not allow men’s needs and desires to define their own.
MY UNDERSTANDING OF GENDER
Gender is a “social construct,” created by society. It builds on and goes beyond actual physical difference. As a human creation, gender definitions can and do change.
Gender is about power, resources and competition. Gender is a form of social control; especially when combined with race and class, gender creates concrete physical conditions in which real individuals suffer or succeed. It is not simply a stereotype we can decide to ignore, it is built into our social system.
Gender is a fundamental category shaping our past and present. We must analyze its impact if we are to understand and change our world. Because we have lived in gendered worlds, women’s experiences and understandings have been different from that of men. Our gendered knowledge needs to be reclaimed and revalued. Allegedly feminine qualities such as connection, empathy and concern for others must be honored as truly human alongside qualities such as bravery and rationality.
I am not concerned abstract debates or with the possibility of eliminating social constructions like gender. I care deeply about using gender as a category of analysis and rethinking gender making it more flexible and less hierarchical.
FAVORITE FEMINIST STATEMENTS
“Brym Mawr commencement Speech,” by Ursula Le Guin. On Language with Father Tongue and the Mother Tongue.
“To Write as a Women is Political,” by Roxanne Gay. The reason why women who write challenge men’s definitions of themselves.
“Poor Jane’s Almanac,” by Jill Lerope. A wonderful factual account of the difference gender made in the lives of Ben Franklin and his sister.
“Bring Back our Girls and the Pitfalls of School Girls Feminism,” by Rafia Zakaria. An Al Ja Zeera article questioning our efforts to use the tragedies of girls to avoid the mature feminism present in other countries.”