The F word
Let's talk about FEMINISM. In fact, let's address some of the misunderstandings that can arise from the word and what we think it means.
The idea of feminism is likely to conjure up in your head, all sorts of different thoughts and suggestions - both positive and negative, and is quite possibly, a whole host of different things to different people. The negative implications which can arise, can lead to feelings that identifying as a Feminist is not a 'good' or 'nice' thing' for the majority of us to be. Or, perhaps you don't feel that you know what it means to be a Feminist, or you are suspicious of the idea of feminism and it's perceived connotations. Perhaps your only experience of feminism is from seeing and hearing about extreme radical feminism - which does exist and can be misinterpreted and misjudged - which may not feel like something that you identify with in terms of your views.
Let's attempt to clear up a few things. I realise this is one woman's opinion being shared within these words, but here goes...
As I see it, feminism is NOT:-
- suggesting women are better than men
- about disliking men or having negative views about men
- saying that men and women need to be the same
- seeing anything that is labelled as feminine as being bad
- a battle of the sexes for supremacy
- a fight for female privilege
- saying that all men oppress all women
Feminism, from where I am standing, is none of those things. And yet, it is often still misinterpreted as being so. Further misunderstanding can come from thinking that the work towards equality has been done, that the vote has been won, the bras have been burned, and we now live in a utopia of equal opportunity and the option to 'have it all'. What more could possibly be required from the Feminist Movement?
I am grateful to the past and present women's rights activists around the world who have made a huge difference to the way I am able to live my life today in Western Society - a society which I recognise has shifted a long way over the course of history in terms of gender equality, this is very clearly not the case across the world. We do not need to search very deeply however, to see:- evidence of an ongoing gender pay gap; the undervaluing of parenting, of which a higher proportion of women than men continue to hold the bulk of the responsibility for; the way that women are represented, misrepresented, and underrepresented, within the media. We live within the boundaries of societal norms which encourage us in; questioning of ourselves in what it means to be a 'successful' woman; feeling that we should 'have it all' given this is an option available to us now; comparing ourselves to each other and competing with each other.
Within Western Society, perhaps it is time to redefine Feminism for the masses, to stretch the boundaries and to fling open the doors a little wider. A new wave of feminism for the modern age. This isn't a game of 'all or nothing'. Feminism doesn't have to feel challenging and confrontational. It can simply be about using our voices to share our opinions, stories and experiences; supporting each other to be happier humans and striving for equality together.
My name is Julie. I am proud to call myself a feminist. I am a Mum of boys who are being raised as Feminists. I am married to a man I love. I am not here to say that women are better than men. I am not here to say that men are useless or keeping me down. I believe all men and women are equal to each other and deserving of the same human rights, living conditions, respect, and pay, as each other. Feminism is about equality. Both men and women can be Feminists. I am surrounded by male friends who are as feminist in their beliefs about gender equality as I am.
I have questioned myself about why I have created Sisterhood Social for women only. I am acting on instinct, following what feels right to me. There looks to me to be common ground in the way that we as women, make meaning of our experience of the world. My aim is to create a supportive space in which to encourage women to explore their experience and to value and look after themselves and each other - achieve this, and I believe the rest will follow.
I've read that Feminism isn't about celebrating womanhood, that in fact the recognition of womanhood is in some way damaging to the Feminist cause in that it allows for the acknowledgment of gender difference and weakens and dilutes the Feminist movement. I disagree. I feel that the way I can make a difference today, is to value myself as a woman, to value other women, and to encourage other women to do the same. By bringing women together to share their stories and to see all the goodness that comes from being a woman, then we can take our place in the world, seeing that we are limitless in our potential and equal to each other and to all other humans who we stand alongside.
What does Feminism mean to you? Could it be time to revisit the idea?
Author: Julie Mitchell, Founder of Sisterhood Social, 2018