Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Further Thoughts on Feminism

I've written before of why I do not consider myself a feminist, although I am staunchly pro-woman. I have never felt comfortable with the title of "feminist" because I disagree with many of the most-loudly broadcast feminist issues, particularly those that involve devaluing motherhood. As I said last May, I feel that the most loudly heard feminist issues seem to be those that urge women to be like men, and in the long run I think that brings down both men and women.

However, a few months ago I had a conversation with my friend Jenne who expressed the thought that she also didn't agree with all of "feminism," however she found that she did agree with many things, and felt like it made more sense to stand with it than against it, in spite of her differences.
Well that's logical.
She is certainly not my only feminist friend, but I guess of all the ones who use that title for themselves, she was the one I related to in the right ways in the right moment. And so I've been thinking... because I have a habit of adjusting my opinions when I learn new information, and that applies to parenting, politics, spirituality, and apparently to feminism. Perhaps I have more in common with them than I realized. I do not personally feel repressed, but I can see societal trends that are certainly disgusting and unhealthy (The "Killing Us Softly" series about images of women in advertising series comes to mind). I also see a lot of women who have been taught to distrust themselves, their intuition, and their bodies. I have written many posts here about trusting our bodies in birthing, listening to our gut in parenting, and I think that this trust of the female self IS lacking in our society. So while I'm not out burning bras or demanding a job as a CEO, I realize that I am something of a feminist activist when I write about my experiences or beliefs about birthing or miscarriage or being a faithful keeper of my home and family.

I still do not exactly consider myself a "Feminist" per se--I greatly prefer the term "Egalitarian," because rather than focusing on equality for one gender over another, it simply promotes fairness for everybody, regardless of gender, race, creed, or practice.
Merriam Webster defines egalitarianism as
1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

However, if you want to call me a feminist, well, I suppose the boot fits. ☺
My feet. In boots. Sexy woman boots. With heels.


Chandelle said...

There are many different types of feminism, some of which I agree with and some that I don't, but they all have at their core the imperative to recognize the whole personhood of women. When a woman is distilled to her ability to give birth she is not recognized as a whole person, just as a man who is distilled to his ability to bring home a paycheck is not recognized as a whole person.

We can nitpick about specific types of feminism or exaggerated acts of some feminists, but ultimately I think feminism's contributions to elevating the status of women have been overwhelmingly positive. For example, the very fact that egalitarianism is a valid choice in a marriage is a triumph of feminism. I feel blessed to enjoy an egalitarian marriage, in which we recognize the inherent worth of one another, our equal ability to be nurturing, devoted parents, and our individual talents in civil life. It's always about personal choice. I pay my dues to feminism for that opportunity.

It's not about having a job or not, giving birth or not, wearing the pants or not. It's about honoring individuality, and supporting the talents of each person however they arise. If your place of fulfillment is primarily at home with your children, I honor that, as a feminist. As a feminist, I put my family first but also honor my talents in civic service. It's really that simple.

I do wish homemaking were positively recognized in our culture, but that's corporatism's fault, not feminism. To some extent feminism has sold out to corporatism, but there's a good chance to fight against that now and reclaim the soul of feminism in which women AND MEN make a home TOGETHER, and connect that home with others within a village-like community. That's my primary goal as a feminist.

/soapbox! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenni.

Jenni said...

I think you hit it on the head there Chandelle--there are different kinds of feminism. There was one type that was so loud that I couldn't hear any of the others (and I didn't like that type).
Now I'm seeing the broader spectrum, and realizing that I fit on it too.

Raleigh foodie said...

I, too, hate the connotation of the word "feminist." My father, who is very old-school, says it like it's a dirty word.

And while I don't agree with some of the rhetoric and methods of "traditional" "feminists," I do consider myself one simply on the basis of the fact that I believe everyone should be entitled to do what they are compelled to do to be happy.

In other words, following their own hearts and values and not letting outside forces (often antagonistic or self-serving) shape their lives and actions. So I like your use of the word egalitarian. True equality isn't about putting down someone else, but raising yourself up.

Jena said...

My two cents:

1) I've long felt that "feminism" really ought to just be about letting women be women, and -honoring- femininity and women's work.

2) When I was young, I heard frequently of Female Intuition (maybe because I watched a lot of old shows on Nick at Nite?) I have no heard of it ONCE in several years. Age-old trust in the gut feelings and instincts of women has been so very rooted out of our culture, and we are smaller for it. :(

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