This was the first post in a series where I ruminated on what it means to me to be a feminist. And, for re-reading the post not much has changed in the past two years or so. First things first, I have no problem self-identifying as a feminist. Just as some of my colleagues live by their Marxist or Socialist tendencies, I live by my feminist beliefs. I advocate feminism and I am an advocate of feminism, but I do not shirk the label.
I do get frustrated though when assumptions are made about feminisms–as if there is this monster of sorts. There is so much variety among feminist theories and feminists themselves. I am a strong believer of the fact that there are different types of feminisms. There is not a monolithic feminism or feminist club that I have to earn a card to be a member of and act and speak a certain way in order to keep my membership. Feminism is not Costco. Feminisms provides a philosophy of life, love, education, politics and so much more. My feminist politics includes an understanding of the importance of intersectionaliy. My feminism includes an understanding that politics and life are influenced by race, class, education, sexuality and many other indicators.
To be honest, I find it quite amusing when a student or other person outside of academe accuses me of having feminist politics. The student might as well accuse me of breathing and thinking. We are all guided by a philosophy of sorts–mine just happens to be feminism. And, some many decades later this term seems to scare, enrage or confuse people. I recall being in grad school and a professor asking me if I was a Chicana or Feminist first. I felt the question was a ridiculous question. Shall you take my right arm off or my left? My identification of my ethnic background is inextricably connected to my feminism.
Feminism informs the way I read pop culture, articles, people’s actions and I will not apologize for thinking. If my feminism intimidates you–you need to think about why is this the case? Do you understand feminism? Do you want to? Years ago I recall telling a friend that I was going to be a cultural critic when I grew up. I don’t think either of us understood this, but when she later told me that her mother thought that was a terrible idea, I knew I was on to something. I tell my students that my vocation is thinking, reading, writing, and more thinking. This thinking is informed by feminism.
The typology of feminism that best explains my own would be Women of Color feminisms circa This Bridge Called My Back added with Third Wave feminisms. I was lucky enough to earn a BA in Women’s Studies (Go Aztecs! ) at SDSU, so most of my mentors were of the Second Wave persuasion. I feel well versed in different types of feminisms.
How does this feminism inform my daily life? Well, that is for a different post or two. One about my teaching, and another about relationships (parenting and love). Femnisms informs my life.
The above screen shot is from the Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr. What a great gift and I add here to make make you smile.
Well said. Not only am I comfortable identifying as a feminist, but I feel it’s important to do so. Our students need to be exposed to new ideas and theories, but also to the lived experience of those philosophies. As an undergrad, meeting women who identified as feminists, and identified the philosophy & experience as a positive one, was life-changing. I can only hope to provide that same example to my students, and that has to start with identifying yourself.
Thanks! I think it’s important to dispel certain myths/stereotypes and to just own who you are. Right?