Friday, July 02, 2010

rambling thoughts on feminism

Christian women are torn on the use of the word "feminism." Even if you never use it yourself, as I never did, it will be thrown at you - if you do not scrape the ground and play dead. Then what do you do? Stand up and say, "Not me! I would never agree with equality for women?" Not ruddy likely! So like it or not, a woman has to deal with this word.

The first time I told a colleague at school that I had been called a "...... feminist" online, she spurted a mouthful of coffee right out of her mouth. Clearly, I am not your typical in-your-face feminist in my bricks and mortar life.

The reality is that unless a woman is deprived of rights, she has little reason to ask for more rights. As a female teacher, I have all the rights of the male teachers, and as one of the majority, it is my duty to make the male teachers feel welcome and included. I have been in schools where female teachers do not make the men feel comfortable, simply by steering the conversation in directions that are not easily engaged in by both sexes. But in my present school, we love our male teachers, and make a concerted effort to express our appreciation and concern for what makes them feel included.

Anyway, I am rambling - what a mess. In my work life, I don't have to be a vocal feminist, but in the Christian community it is very necessary because normal rights that we need to carry on basic life and care for ourselves, our parents and our children, are being removed from women.

Here is the link that I meant to pass on about Sarah Palin. She is expanding the use of the term feminism. I am happy with that. Feminism should be a broad term like "conservative" or "liberal" or "Christian" and many other terms which take on meaning in their context. I am happy to be a "feminist," sometimes conservative, sometimes liberal and sometimes "Christian" .


J. K. Gayle said...

Mrs. Palin vs. Ms. Valenti and vice versa. In pop media and in the blogosphere, it's made to sound like a catty cat fight.

"Feminism" is definitely a hot-button word. We all too often make it narrow, forgetting the various "waves" of feminists who have had to re-define it, re-appropriate it, again and again.

I've wanted to stop blogging again and again because of the use of the word in the title of a blog of mine, so very often misunderstood. I hate that there is "feminism" for "feminism's" or for "feminists'" sake. To me it's like love for love's sake, which loses sight of the people in love.

I do love bell hook's definition of feminism:

Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago [in 1985]. It was my hope that at that time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.

I do appreciate Alice Walker's need to coin womanism, since, as a black woman, she (and other non-whites) is too often excluded from the banner of "feminism."

I find it wonderful that men are feminists, and that black men can be too; what do you think Leonard Pitts's wonderful answer is to the question "Can (Black) Men REALLY Be Feminists?"

I also find the last paragraph of your post here to be pretty wonderful!

Don said...

Better to be a feminist than a masculinist.