In this post my goal is to draw some parallels between the videos we've watched and discussions we've had, while throwing in my own two cents about what it all means to me and my personal experience as a feminist.
The word feminist is very strong and highly stigmatized. I had this to say in my Gender and Leisure class with Diana Parry last semester:
It feels very satisfying to be verified in my opinion that a feminist and a humanist are the same thing. I'd never heard anyone refer to feminism as such, until today. An act of the collective consciousness at work in the universe.The film ‘My Feminism’ rocked me (Personal communication, Gender and Leisure, January 18, 2010). Upon reflection, I’ve associated myself with the term feminist for close to 17 years. I’ve wrestled with it throughout, finding out the hard way how the rest of society reacts. Not nice. Just the word, never mind the woman (or man) associated with it is enough to shut people down. They purse their lips tight, you realize you’ve ventured into the same conversation realm as religion or abortion and it’s over. Through either silence or verbal‘disagreement’, it’s over. For me most times the word doesn’t even have to be spoken. All my audience needs to see is a flash of a hairy leg, or a glimpse at underarm hair; all I have to do is be me, to talk as I think, to say what I mean, and it’s clearly evident that I am a (Lesbian? That MUST be it…look at her…) HUMANIST. I’m not convinced that they’re not the same thing, the feminist and the humanist, and I’m not convinced that they’re both found to be nonthreatening to the patriarchic trained citizens of our society, either. Unless, of course, you’re a fellow humanist; then you know exactly what I’m talking about. And even if you’re not shut down quite as quickly as those of us who do not bow to the pressure of the razor, you may have found yourself in an embarrassingly awkward moment of silence when (creating awareness, advocating,taboo-busting, challenging stereotypes, praying, grieving, celebrating) on behalf of women around the world with someone who ‘didn’t know’ and ‘can’t believe’ that women were (paid, able, forced, told, capable, skilled, dreaming)of doing that! And we are as amazed at their ignorance as they are of our awareness and depth.
We also spoke about men as feminists and if they're willing to acknowledge themselves as one. There wasn't much of a consensus. However, on Tuesday we watched a video that inspired me immensely because it was written by a young man and it was certainly hard core feminism at work. I strongly encourage you to watch the link. Thank you Adriel Luis and the student who brought it to our attention, S.
So, my thinking is that if it's the label that's turning you off, you should either change it (ie. humanist) or drop it and instead really focus on the underlying context of the words:
Feminism: Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes; the movement organized around this belief.
Humanism: A system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth; concern with the interests, needs, and welfare of humans
This is essentially what it all boils down to and who's going to be ashamed at adopting that as an overall outlook? However, I do challenge you to wear the label of feminist fiercely...it's very liberating and empowering, the first video I mentioned had this to say:
That really hit home for me. Feminism as an act of gratitude. Wow. And I am so very grateful."Acknowledging you're a feminist is an act of gratitude for the people who went before you and who fought for the rights you're now enjoying"
And so I say THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart for the feminist trailblazers that went before me and had the courage to fight for all that I am capable of achieving in the here and now. Thank you for debunking the patriarchal systems that are at work all around me. Thank you for believing in my worth as a unique human being. Thank you for making the personal political. Thank you for your amazing influence that has me absolutely convinced that every interaction I have with another human being needs to be honoured and intentional. Thank you for advocating for respect and equality on my behalf.
With so much Love & Gratitude I am overwhelmed by it all,