There is much discussion surrounding the appropriate formula that measures out what exactly it means to be a feminist. Start with a woman. Add one parts dyke, one parts bitter angst. Stir in hate-for-all-things-male. Drop a dash of uppity prudishness and freeze until bitchingly cold. Garnish with that flannel Eddie Vedder is probably still rocking and voilà! You’ve got yourself a potential future cat-lady or a feminist! If this description doesn’t sound like you, well you’re in luck because it probably doesn’t sound like most feminists. In fact, the stereotypes that ignorant individuals paint of what a “feminist” constitutes make it difficult for people to get behind embracing and claiming the term. Feminism is an extremely important and altering concept in my life and I wanted to try and shed a more positive light on it. I believe that feminism is as needed today as it ever was and quite frankly, I would hate to have its significance devalued due to lack of understanding and confusion. I am a staunch, proud feminist and this is my spin on what it means to me and what I hope it can mean to everyone.
The textbook definition of feminism is, “The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” Pretty straight forward and simple, right? I mean, if you have any slight hindrance in you that men and women should be equal in all aspects of society then that technically qualifies you as a feminist. Somehow though, this isn’t enough to make everyone feel comfortable with the terminology. What I have come to learn throughout the duration of my education is that although the standard definition holds true there are numerous other aspects that expand it and make it a more comprehensive theory than people tend to regard it as. That definition serves as the umbrella by which other schools and theories formulate and even then it isn’t safe to pigeonhole the diversity of feminist views into constructed categories.
While there are many schools of feminist thought, one significant aspect that is seemingly apparent in all is the inclusion of women’s personal experiences that help construct their viewpoints. During the second wave of feminism in the 1960’s and 70’s, consciousness raising was instituted as a way for women to come together and share their experiences with one another and become aware and enlightened that for one, they were not the only ones going through similar situations and two, they could be overcome. I can tell you that my opinions have shifted throughout my life due to various insights that have manifested themselves. Therefore, they could very well change as I continue to grow and learn. This indicates how ever changing feminist opinions can be based on the individual that inhabits them. As of now, I have compiled a short list that includes, but is not limited to, my personal beliefs that I like to deem as feminist-sprouted or, because feminism made me do it:
- Before being anything else in life (i.e. a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife etc…) I am woman.
- I don’t believe in mirroring ourselves to men and their behaviors as a way to look as though we are “down” or compliant. Men are not the ideal.
- Just because you have a vagina does not mean I will automatically agree with your ideas and vice versa. Part of feminism being a comprehensive theory is that it can and does vary so there will always be conflicting opinions and beliefs and that is OKAY.
- If I were to marry in life one day, that would be cool. If not, that would be cool too. Same goes for motherhood. I don’t feel that those are the pivotal, defining moments in a woman’s life and there are a plethora of other things that our livelihoods could be devoted to.
- Pornography rots the brain and blurs the lines between fantasy and reality that not everyone can separate and distinguish. It also is more often than not pushed to extremities at the expense of women who are most definitely exploited.
- However, this isn’t to say that I don’t myself enjoy sex because I very much do and nowhere in any made-up feminist guideline says you can’t too.
- I am pro-choice.
- But, I was born and raised a Catholic. As contradictory as that could sound, I hope and believe that I can one day strike a decent balance between my feminist ideals and religious roots because I truly never want to lose either. (Channeling my inner Nancy Pelosi now…)
- I would pay a stripper to put her clothes back on. I had what I would like to call a “stripper-realization-moment” once and it made me very, very wary about the whole stripping thing.
- I don’t believe in high heels. I feel that they are unnecessary foot torture that men devised as some cruel joke to see what they could fool women to get into wearing next.
- I don’t believe in Beyoncé.
Disclaimer: My personal feministic beliefs are just that, MINE. They in no way reflect Karmic Vintage or other women’s or ANYONE else for that matter. This is just how I’ve come to reflect upon certain things and I hope that they give insight into who I am and what I stand for.
To expand on some of the points I made previous in my list, the simplified notion that all feminists want is to equate with the standards of men are not far reaching enough, in my opinion. By saying this, we are assuming that males are the epitome by which we women should aspire to be like and if we don’t then we are uptight. There is another association that seems to try and parallel exhibiting male behavior with a women’s empowerment and I am here to state that that connection is absolute absurdity. I mean, how ironic does that sound to even begin with? To quote Lena Dunham, “There’s still a sense that being down with the predatory behavior of guys makes you chill, a girl with a sense of humor a girl who can hang.” I feel that women should display whatever mannerisms and way of being how they see fit despite any social construct that comes attached with doing or not doing certain things.
I remember when I was away at the university, I heard a lot about current female celebrities talking about how they’ve come under scrutiny due to their publicity choices and how if they are criticized by other women, then well, they must not be feminists because feminism means supporting one another. Can someone please tell me why I bothered taking women and gender studies classes at a ridiculously over-priced university that I now owe thousands of dollars to if this was indeed all that was needed to know? Oh right, because it’s not. Feminism does not mean solely supporting one another, although that is a good starting point. I previously stated that women should demonstration behaviors how they deem fit for themselves. With great power comes great responsibility, however. During my studies I noticed that it is extremely easy to fall into the trap of blaming everyone else for our oppression. IT’S ALL MEN’S FAULT AND SOCIETY SUCKS TOO FOR REINFORCING THE STEREOTYPES THAT THOSE GOOD-FOR-NOTHING MEN INSTILL. Now now ladies, let’s not get hasty. I believe that the freedoms we do possess to pretty much do what we want also can come with repercussions. With any action there is a reaction and not all are going to be positive so be prepared for that and claim whatever shitty, slutty thing you’ve done. It’s okay, we’ve all been there.
I would like to take this closing opportunity to proclaim, “I DON’T HATE MEN!” In fact, I love them as much as any other heterosexual female would. Underneath all the banter lies a woman who has always been infatuated with male influences that no amount of feminist overture can deplete. We must always remember that if we want respect and acknowledgment, we owe the same gratitude to our male counterparts. We will never fully understand them as they will never grasp us and that is a-okay. We both have redeeming and obnoxious qualities about us that I think complement each other. So this is for you men! We feminists aren’t all flannel-wearing-man-hating-angsty-prude-dykes, I totally promise. We love you and we want you to join us! Don’t ever listen to anyone who says you aren’t important or unnecessary (yeah, I’m talking to you Mary Daly…) because you are as much a part of the solution as a part of the feminist struggle that is fought against. We welcome you. We adore you.
I sincerely hope that feminism begins to be understood more and misinterpreted less. With anything in life, a little bit a research can go a long way. Embrace the name and make it your own, your own person and your own ideals. I know that I have always had this innate determination to live and express feministic concepts even if I didn’t know what they were at the time. I know that sometimes they can come across as harsh or neurotic and off putting to some but it’s hard for me to care when petty people come and go but ideals will always remain. I equate the neurosis with principles and I’m thankful that I feel like I actually believe in something enough to make me seem a little crazy at times. Feminism is a beautiful thing, womanhood even more so. Embrace it, appreciate it and own it. GRRRRL POWER!