Archive | June, 2013

Part 2: Feminism Revised

3 Jun

I’ve spend the past half a year doing a lot of reading, talking, and unfortunately not enough writing on Feminism. At the end of these six months there were three salient points of learning, for me.

  1. Feminism is narrowly about advancing social rights to women but broadly it is about addressing and fighting Privilege.
    1. Privilege is about power. The dis-empowered cannot be privileged.
    2. Privilege is the ability to be perceived as who you are as opposed to your stereotype or class.
    3. Privilege is the ability to feel like any possibility is an option, and accessible!
  2. Feminism has evolved through the years.
    1.  In the U.S., the first wave Feminist of the 1920s were trying to secure the right to vote.
    2. The second wave Feminists of the 1970s were securing access to education, industries and careers.
    3. And the third wave Feminists of today- us? We care about work life balance, access to adequate child care. We combat the dilemma of “opting out” vs “leaning in.” We’re more sensitive to issues affecting all women regardless of race, income level, employment status, profession, beauty or cultural upbringing. And ultimately we identify as women but as just one of many adjectives and titles that makes up the summation of our independent, individual selves.
  3. As a voting base and political force Feminism (capital F) is waning in power. BUT as a umbrella term for equal opportunity and fighting the glass ceiling of privilege, feminism (lower case f) has evolved, but is still just as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago when women lacked the ability to vote in the U.S.

In Part 1 of the blog series, the open ended question was if women still haven’t reach true equality, why is there a hesitation among women to identify as Feminists and lead the movement of the third wave?

My friend J (a man) had the following to say upon reading my original post an watching the Miss Representation documentary:

It’s depressing that your female friends were hesitant to identify as feminists. The fact that the right has so poisoned young girls into thinking that feminism is synonymous with being a pissed-off lesbian demonstrates their media power. The documentary was powerful and disheartening.

Previously I would have agreed with J but my readings suggest this is an oversimplification of the problem.

It’s not just the Right but it’s also a trend of our generation…we don’t like to be “labeled” period. Additionally, some of the alienation is actually due to the legacy of the 2nd Wave Feminist who in fact rejected stay-at-home moms and women who didn’t conform to their idea of “What it means to be a Feminist” including minorities.  Many of the women from this second wave are still leading figures and voices of the movement. So there is a strong argument that while women’s issues are still very relevant they are also different, and the Feminist movement has not been re-branded to embrace this new face. A big part of new feminism (lower case f) is that furthering women to be able to make true choices, have a level playing field, and be perceived as individuals and not an imposed stereotype involves furthering men, furthering minorities, and furthering LGBT as well. In my opinion, the new feminism transcends just females but Feminism (capital F) has not caught up yet.

This identity crisis might not be the only reason that women today, my peers, hesitate to identify as Feminists. In fact it might not even be the primary reason. BUT it is and will continue to be a significant deterrent in the ability of the Feminist movement to gain the membership and traction needed to have the right type of influence in the issues relevant to today’s women. To be revived, Feminism must first be revised.