5 things feminism has done for me

way to go, internet: you've responded in impressive numbers to proclaim to the world your feelings for and about feminism. this collective action was launched in light of all the political hoopla of recent weeks. we'd bounced some ideas around for awhile about how the blog community could demonstrate support for swc. then Last Week happened. by now, over 60 posts have gone up under the heading "5 things feminism has done for me". and hopefully more will follow suit.

i suppose i'm late to the meme party partly because it's bloody hard to distill the vastness of the thing down to 5 tidy points. and anyone who has followed this virtual part of my journey has witnessed the sparring match that is my feminism. feminism, like my own self, is full of contradictions. feminists know how much our politic is a struggle. but i have proudly paid hommage to feminism before, as i will now.

5 things feminism has done for me

1. words. by the time i had wandered into the teen years, my brain and heart were already contending with some heavy shit. feminism became the language for my instincts. whatever i was too young or unsure to get a handle on, feminism slowly began to give description. the stuff we grapple with can be big and unwieldy, so all those light bulbs were mighty relieving to a prairie kid without the foggiest idea of what to call her disquieting sense of justice. over the years, feminist theory and practice have allowed me to turn my insides out, confidently, and with bona fide vocabulary.

2. strength. as i began to learn the language for my guts, i figured out there are others who think and feel similarly. strength of integrity, strength of self - those come from the inside and are necessarily safe there. but the strength of the collective is an indomitable force that in turn, feeds you back. it's a dance that is not ironic so much as poetic - my feminism strengthens Feminism, and Feminism strengthens me.

3. wisdom. my feminism nourishes a wisdom in me about the self, and who i am and want to become. it also has embedded in its core an insistance that Woman is important and powerful. feminists see wonder in Woman. it's like we all share a secret of some kind, but it's a secret that is totally exposed - one we want Everyone to be in on. feminism is more than just a way of seeing or understanding the world. it's a way of being. that i get that makes me wise. that i continue to explore it makes me wiser.

4. politics. different entry points lead each of us to our ideology, our values. mine is an evolving politic, one based on the understanding that everything is interrelated. feminism allows for a deeper and more empathetic understanding of oppression, in all its forms. struggles for equality of any kind - gender, racial, cultural, economic - are rooted in the same place. it's about power. getting that makes me political. issues of power are at play in every single aspect of women's lives - however seemingly neutral or de-politicized. and yes, i do believe the personal is political.

5. freedom. feminism gave me a feisty mother who came from a country that people think still has no feminism. she was raised to be educated and opinionated, so she raised me to be loud and independent. those second wavers seized a lot of freedom that was never theirs in the first place, then graciously turned around and handed it to us. i never take that freedom for granted. my right to ask hard questions came from the women before me. sometimes it makes me sad, other times mad, but mostly it worries me that so many of my cohorts (never mind the younger generation) have no fucking idea what freedoms they enjoy thanks to feminism. as if we've always had maternity leave, let alone jobs. we can go to university or own property or access contraception legally or vote. but it's about more than that. feminism has gifted us with the freedom to CHOOSE, to EXPRESS, to RESIST. we have the freedom to BE. when girls are told they can BE whatever they want, thank feminism.

so that's that - my untidy attempt at the list of 5. encouraging each other to do this exercise is cool, though i still have trouble with Why. i will never comprehend the backlash against feminism. to me, it's like opposing Woman. convenient to write off feminists as anti-men (in the same narrow manner in which they write off abortion advocates as anti-life) when in fact, if feminism is anti anything, it's oppression. and not being against oppression is just too fucked for my head to understand.

what are your 5, audra and jenn?
consider yourselves tagged.


Blogger Donna said...

Your number five hit me right in the gut. As a new mom of a girl, I have been pondering how we can best raise her to be a strong, independent woman . . .thanking feminism and reflecting on the battles fought by our foremothers is a good place to begin! Thanks for this, P!

11:01 a.m.  
Blogger Polly Jones said...

People have freaky ideas about feminism. I recently had a guy say to me: 'You can't be a feminist; your hair is too long'. What?!?!?!

12:00 a.m.  
Blogger pamused said...

yeah, then there's the ever-popular and timeless 'of course you're a feminist - you're fat and ugly.' it's all so enlightened, really.

12:27 a.m.  
Blogger Carrie and/or Wayne said...

Pam - your 5 spoke to my very core. I've been trying to articulate these things for myself for a long time - since the Jude died.... you just gave my feelings a really loud and eloquent voice.

Like Donna, I have a 'new future-woman' in my life to pass along the good stuff to.

Thank you.


1:28 a.m.  
Blogger pamused said...

carrie - glad you've 'met' donna. you, especially, will find that blog of hers and michel's absolutely hysterical, never mind relatable.

3:21 a.m.  
Blogger Scott Tribe said...

Thanks for the list.

I'll keep intermittently checking on your tags to see if they respond with a list of their own.

6:18 p.m.  

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