Thursday, November 08, 2007

How Do You Define Your Feminism?

To any of my friends who've asked me about feminism lately I give you this bit of awesomeness (hat tip Feministing).

My only quibble is that it should have also said "Feminists sometimes have cats but not always."

Oh yeah, and I also love this quote because I feel it gets at the heart of what most people mean when they refuse to call themselves feminists.

“(Because) someone somewhere once said something in the name of feminism I disagree with, so I’ll call that Feminism, and distance myself from it rather than acknowledging that there are huge disagreements within feminism and re-envisioning my own place within that.”


Anonymous said...

I don't get it. This post doesn't really define feminism. It simply says that the label is ambiguous. I wonder if the author would include Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe), or Pat Goltz and Cathy Callaghan (who were evicted from the "big tent" of NOW).

Jim in Cleveland

NewsCat said...

The whole point of the post is that no one person (or group) gets to define feminism. It's like trying to corner the market on "defining Christianity." It is a movement and a terminology that is always in constant flux precisely because it means so many things to so many people.

There is debate and discussion within feminist groups and externally. What pisses me the most is when feminism is treated as some monolothic and hegemongic group. As if there is a council of "feminist leaders" who set feminist law from upon high. To paraphrase from a South Park episode Kim Gandy isn't the emperor of women.

But neither is Christina Hoff Sommers.

The post is simply explaining that EVERYONE defines their own feminism. There's no one definition. It is not unlike trying to define Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. But Christians define themselves as believing in Christ as the Messiah and the Son of God. There are parameters. Yes, Christians are evangelicals and Episcopalians; Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists; liberal and conservative. But all of us are trying to be followers of Christ.

Feminism also, I would say, has parameters. Feminism basically promotes the fact that females are at least equal to males, despite what may have been the perception in history. No?

BUT!!! If you hold what you hold, that feminism is not hegemonic, that you can hold a variety of beliefs then . . . wouldn't you have to accept the women I named into the tent? How about Phyllis Schlafly? Heck, you could call me a feminist.

In short, I think the point you are making is dead on--just like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don't represent black people. But then, if you believe that, you have to concede Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell are just as relevent to racial issues. I am just underlining your assertion--if the definition of feminism is defined by each person, then Serrin Foster is just as much a feminist as Gloria Steinem.

Jim in Cleveland

NewsCat said...

I'm not denying that the names you listed aren't voices in the debate, that doesn't mean I agree with them. It just means they exist.

What the issue is what percentage of women's voices do they represent verses Kim Gandy? Just because they exist doesn't mean they speak for much more than themselves. And how much of who or what they represent is really other organization's agendas.