Saturday, November 06, 2004

Deconstructing the "F-Word"

I have a women's studies paper due in the upcoming weeks, and I needed to get a headstart on it now due to all of the other crap I have to do between now and then. I started off the paper by defining feminism and feminists. I'm going to post it because there is so much misunderstanding and fragmentation on this issue, and I wanted to provide a somewhat comprehensive mish-mash of many definitions of this so-called "f" word.

What is feminism? Who are feminists? What do feminists believe? Am I (gasp) a feminist? These questions are the topic of a great deal of academic, and non-academic, feminist writings. None are easily answerable.
Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards have painted a unique vision of feminism by positing what any given day would be like without feminism: “babies are born on this day are automatically given their father’s name. If no father is listed, ‘illegitimate’ is likely to be typed on the birth certificate”. In high school, “girls do not take calculus or physics; they plan the dances and decorate the gym”. In University, “the women’s studies major does not exist”, and “only 44 percent of women are employed outside of the home. Lesbians “are rarely ‘out’, except in certain bars owned by organized crime”, and heterosexual women “without a male escort may be refused service in a restaurant or a bar, and a woman alone is hard-pressed to find a landlord who will rent her an apartment”. When we examine what one single day would be like without the progress of feminism, it can be seen that feminism is at once many things. This is consequently reflected in many of the definitions that have been provided in determining exactly what feminism is.

Feminism is primarily defined as a political movement, with varying social, economic, and political goals and beliefs (Colt). Colt asserts that feminism is concerned with sex equality, that ‘women’s condition is socially constructed, that is, historically shaped by human social usage”, and that women perceive ourselves as “not only a biological sex but as a social grouping”. Others state that feminism as a goal of “the liberation of women for women”, that “feminism at heart is a massive complaint”, feminism is also “a method of analysis as well as a discovery of new material”, and that feminism is “the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, poor women, lesbians, old women, […]”.

Feminism is complex, feared, and largely misrepresented. It's frustrating to have to fight against these misrepresentations all the time - it wears me down. But I refuse to be worn down completely. All the backlash that we notice in response to feminism clearly shows us that we are doing something of value: if we weren't, why would we see such adamant opposition? If feminism was just a collection of "man-hating crap", wouldn't it just be easily dismissed without any argumentation? So while all the fighting I do does wear me out, it also lets me know that I'm winning. Fight me, and
you continue to fuel me on.

Listening to: White Boy - Bikini Kill


At 11:10 PM , Blogger Mike said...

Yay for getting comments to work!


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