Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oh, you aren't a feminist? My mistake.

Carrie Adkins wrote a really interesting piece on Nursing Clio called "I'm Not a Feminist, But... I'm Taking This Class." I love this article. Adkins writes the assumptions about what feminism is, what feminists do (or don't do), and even what feminist look like (we're all ugly, didn't you know?).

So few people, especially women, subscribe to being a feminist these days. I get it. There is a lot of baggage with the term; I think sometimes we still envision women burning their bras when we hear the word 'feminism' or imagine groups of angry women. Angry women that supposedly hate men.

It's true that there are some women out there that legitimately hate men, but they are few and far between, the equivalent of the small percentage of men and women who call themselves Muslims and are willing to blow themselves up, compared to the general, peace-loving Muslim population, that adhere to the Koran. And it's the same type of thinking, over-generalizing, that allows us to make an assumption about what a group is like based on a few extremists.

I think people legitimately don't understand what being a feminist is anymore.

Adkins writes how she loves to define feminism for her students:
Nevertheless, I feel compelled to do something to challenge my students’ “I’m not a feminist, but” mentality. I always introduce a definition of feminism at appropriate points in my classes, generally something quite basic, like “the movement for women to have rights equal to those of men.” Sometimes I’ll even add, “so, if you think women should have equal rights, congratulations, you’re a feminist! Even if you happen to be a guy!” I’ll point them to the growing online collections of “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” images.
This issue really gets to me. I look out there, into the world, and there is still so much to be done. I don't think it's about giving women the same 'privileges' that men have. Women have been granted equality through political action, yet there is still great inequality in women's jobs, roles, what they are paid, and how they are seen in the world. Women are not given as much respect as their male counterparts. Feminism is more than changing laws. Feminism is about changing attitudes and changing perceptions. Feminism is about love and respect and acceptance.

Question: What does feminism mean to you?