In the past recent years, feminism has been garnering a lot of attention—particularly from female celebrities like Beyonce who have commented what feminism is to them—in interviews, quotes, and even in their creative works/endeavors.
Recently, Shaliene Woodley talked about how she is not feminist. She defined a feminist a someone who wants to rule over a man. BUT when she describes what she believes in about women, she basically said that women should form a sisterhood and watch each other’s back. And help each other out.
Obviously, since Woodley stated this, many feminists have became defensive…and so have I.
For starters, other feminists and I have expressed that Woodley doesn’t know what a feminism or a feminist is.
In my own words, I want to define what feminism is to me…each feminists will define their own definition of what a feminist or what feminism is. However, I believe there are commonalities in the definition.
Feminism to me is:
1) Fighting equality among for all women and men.
From how I always understood, feminism has been primarily about women having the same opportunities, rights, and privileges (if those privileges are earned) like men. You look through history itself, men have always had certain access to certain spaces, knowledges, rights, opportunities, and privileges. Meanwhile, women did not have access to certain spaces, knowledges, rights, opportunities, and privileges like men. Or women those matters were limited for women. In case point, women couldn’t legally vote before the 20th century in the United States. Or when certain spaces, like work spaces being opened up to women all the time, became available for women to occupy, women were not treated equal in those work spaces. Instead, they were brutally harassed, sexually or physically abused…or emotionally or mentally abused. These work spaces range from corporate American to women working in coal mines.
What feminist fights for is that women will be insured that they will have the same rights, the same opportunities, and the same access to spaces as men. No, women don’t want special treatment. We want fair treatment.
2) Letting women be who they are
Yes, if you are truly a woman in spirit and mind (and this includes transgendered people who are males, but they believe they are females), you want to be accepted for who you are. You don’t want to be singled out because of what someone thinks you should be or you are. Back to history…women have been “crafted” by others to be certain ways. We have been typecast and stereotyped on print, in film, and now, the messages carry forward by a broader tool—the Internet…particularly online news media and social media.
More than ever, women are not out of the woods. Yes, we have certain rights/privileges that other foremothers didn’t have. Third/Fourth wave feminists are more better off our First/Second wave feminists…and certainly our Zero Wave feminists in terms of certain areas in culture…and life in general.
Yet, we still have a lot more battles to fight. And the reason why is because we are still getting stereotyped in all kinds of media and creative outlets. We still have to fight the images…images of us being weak…of us being a bitch…of us being shallow. For we are ALL not like that…and some of us are trying to achieve a higher spiritual realm about ourselves so we can become better versions of ourselves. If anything to me, feminism has helped me become a better Sophia. It has made me recognize how I may not fight enough for certain rights or certain spaces. It has made me realize that in other to fight the good fight right I must recognize how I view aspects of life positively and negatively.
3) Recognizing the past issues, the present issues, and what the future issues will be
I find, for myself, the waves of feminism as being very important. Why?
I would not say that Zero, First, Second, Third, and now, Fourth Wave, are an accurate measuring stick to every feminists out there. I mean if you ask me what wave I come from, I would say I am a Third/Fourth wave feminism as I am a Generation X and Yer. I straddle both lines. Why? One reason is that I know how to use the technology that has came out. I also have a desktop, laptops, tablets, and an Android phone. I am connected like Generation Y and Zers. Yet, I was also raised by Generation Baby Boom/Generation X parents. I have those types of characteristics. I can relate to Generation Xers definitely, but I can also relate to Generation Yers because we have in common using this technology.
I can also relate to Third wave feminists because I know all about Rebecca Walker, Amy Richards, Jennifer Baumgardner, etc. I know about the Anita Hill trial…and Susan Fuladi…it is because I was coming up in that area… I also know about Bitch magazine before it became Bitch Media…
But I also know about the emerging Fourth wave feminism. Jessica Valenti, being one of the foremothers of starting online feminism….using blogs and websites to continue to promote feminism. I also know that, as I said before, Bitch magazine…became Bitch Media as Bitch knew that to promote their message further, they had to also get onto the social media bandwagon.
It is because we feminists who truly want to continue change know that we have to evolve with the times. In other to keep combating issues and promoting change…and having that change actually happen, you must change with the times. As an educator myself, I know that. In other to get to the younger ones, you must be on their level. In order to get to their level, you must have an open mind and learn about what they are doing…what they are into…and what they are using to effectively educate them as well.
That’s how change comes. We have to know what the past issues where…and our past history…what the present issues are…and if they comes from the past issues/past history…and we must try to project what future issues will look like.
4) In all, feminists are humanitarians.
Yes, feminists have a specific goal in mind typically. We want to help women become better in the sense that better means everyone will become better as well. What do I mean by that?
Let’s say we have a stay at home mom. And let’s say that this woman has brought into everything that she learned up until she became a mother. Her mother was a stay at home mom. Never worked outside the home. She raised her kids while her husband was the breadwinner. Let’s just say that this new mom saw her mom struggle in the home…with having to take care of her and her other three siblings. Having to put dinner on the table every night. Having to take care of her husband.
But let’s say that this new mom overheard her mom tell her dad that she wants a little more for herself. Maybe wanting to take a part time job when all the kids in school. And let’s just say that that new mom heard her father panicked. Saying that…what happens if someone gets sick? Are you sure you will be there to take care of them, etc. etc.
Back to the new mom and the present day. The new mom struggles with wanting to stay home and wanting to work at the same time. She knows that if she goes back to work she will miss out on her child’s most crucial moments. Yet, she knows if she doesn’t go to work she is losing some of who she is…what I mean by that is…she feels like she is giving a part of herself. The active behavior part of loving to work…and showing her other skills as an person.
What I, as a feminist, as you as a feminist (if you label yourself a feminist)…most of all, what ALL of us need to put forth effort in is to help women feel comfortable who they are. To provide a network of support for one another. A sisterhood, as Woodley calls it, to support this new mom…and help her make the transition and figure out the changes she needs to be happy and comfortable with being a mom…and a working mom.
Woodley is right; women do not need to tear each other down. I am against that because it is negative…a lot of unnecessary negative energy. Although Woodley has a misconception about feminists, we should not tear her down for it. We should gently educate her. If she still does not want to be labeled as a feminist, that’s fine as well. Each woman has to discover what she wants to define herself as .
BUT I will say that we feminists out there who care about new moms, actresses, female doctors, lawyers, graduate program assistant, career center counselors, voice –overs, engineers, etc.
It is called being a good humanitarian. If you want to call yourself a humanitarian instead of a feminist, that’s fine, BUT feminists go under humanitarian. A feminists who cares about herself and who she wants to be treated…in return, how she treats others the same way she treats herself, is a humanitarian. We don’t seek out to rule over men. I don’t want to rule over men.
I want us ALL to feel comfortable in our skins. I want all of us…whoever we identify ourselves to be…I want all of us to the same opportunities on the same playing field. If you’ve earned that salary increase, you should be awarded it.
If you feel guilty about leaving your child at daycare while working, don’t feel that way at all. It does not mean you are a bad mom. It means that you need something in addition than being a mom. And that’s okay.
Or if you are like me…who most likely will not be having children, I should not feel guilty about that. Some of us are meant to decide a different type of destiny. It does not mean I am any better than you. It just means that we are on different levels…and that’s the commonality and equality. That we are on different levels, but we all are trying to reach the same stars.
The stars that makes us better, brighter, and bolder. Feminism may not be for everybody individually, but it is open to be for everybody. Once you understand the definition of what feminism is…than I believe you have the right to choose wherever way you want to go.