Saturday, July 15, 2006

Here's One I'll Probably Regret Later

Monkey Boy has warned me against opening up this particular can of worms, and just to give him an opportunity to say "I told you so" and be right, I'm going to ignore his advice. Love you honey.

I recently pimped myself to joined up with Blogs By Women, a directory of (obviously) women bloggers. I had a look at their own blog and found a link to BlogSheroes: The Feminist Bloggers Network. With nothing better to do than to waste my download quota for the day, I had a look. And a thought occurred to me: isnt the term "feminist blogger" somewhat tautological? How can a woman be a blogger and not be a feminist? Isnt the very nature of being a) female and b) having a voice courtesy of blogging and writing about our lives in an honest way a feminist act in itself?

Monkey Boy disagrees with the notion that a woman can not be a feminist. I cant fathom a woman who does not believe in equal pay for equal work, the creation of a level playing field, the right to vote, the right to say "no", the right to control her fertility, the right to be treated with respect. To me, being female automatically implies being a feminist. To Monkey Boy, "feminist" is as ugly a word as its male counterpart, "chauvinist", implying seperatist notions, male-bashing, and unshaved armpits. I agree that this view of feminism is indeed ugly (especially the armpits) and I have never felt comfortable with a group of women who wish to sit around bagging men and spelling "women" with a "y" and two "m"s. But I'm not convinced that this is feminism, or if it is, its a version that is as old as the ashes of the bras that were once burned. I'm also not comfortable with the women who say "I'm not a feminist, but..." Maybe I'm just not comfortable with women. And if that's the case, can I still be a feminist?

So what is it that defines a feminist? Is it blaming men for everything whilst striving so hard to be just like them? Is it believing all people deserve to be treated equally in some circumstances or to have barriers removed so they can participate equally in others? Is it about respecting each other's differences? If you're a married stay-at-home mother who took her husband's surname and makes killer scones are you a traitor to the cause?

I'm really interested to find out what it is that YOU think defines a feminist.


  1. Felicity9:02 pm

    You certainly made me think Panda. Great poost.

    I have to admit that in the past Ive said "Im, not a feminist, but.." But I do believe in equality.. for all, even for animals! I think that everyone should be treated the same, automatically! So I suppose I am a feminist! And an 'Animist'! lol :)

    I wanted to write more, but cant atm! Hopefully I can organise my thoughts and re-visit this cool topic!

    Felicity. :)

  2. Panda - I think all of the qualifiers you list in the middle define feminism. There are extremists in every faith, in every political camp, etc. and the man bashing set, I think, is just one extreme end of the feminist camp that is not at all representative of what it means to be a feminist. I think you, and I, are feminists because we believe in equality for men and women.

    As to the shaving issue. I think it's a personal choice because, really, what is the difference between a man dictating that to be beautiful a woman should shave v. not shave? None.

  3. Jacqueline1:59 am

    Feminism to me is choice. Whether that choice is to remain childfree or be a stay at home mum to a brood of 6; to shave or not to shave; to work or not to work; to control your fertility or to make decisions controlling any facet of your life based on the opportunity to do so.

    Those women who say "I'm not a feminist but..." are doing a big disservice to those women who have gone before us to fight for those choices we take for granted today. It is not all that long ago women's career paths were severely restricted and birth control was extremely unreliable. Shame on those women for taking these important life decisions for granted.

  4. First, I am a feminist.

    Second, I define one simply as someone who feels that she is an equal human being to a man. I'm not talking proven biological stuff such as muscle mass caused by testosterone (although a strong woman can be more powerful than some men), but by how we're treated in society.

    And third, I do know of women who are not feminists. They're often found in the 'Bible-based' communities, where even though the Good Book says that women should be submissive to their husbands AND men should honor their wives, feel that their role in life is that of supporting role, ever in the shadows. And funny how many people will think that 'that's just their beliefs' or 'she's a real woman,' but if a man were to be the 'shadow,' he isn't a man.

    Addendum: Such women will believe that 'feminists' are women who want to be men. They know this because that's what the men in their lives have told them to keep them in line. And I've known such people, so I'm not making this up.

  5. I agree with all the comments made thus far - even felicity in equality for animals - respect for all life should be pursued with a boundless heart.

    Unfortunately, I have known of women who although they're strong women, they still feel that they should grow their hair long and LITERALLY walk a few steps behind their man because they think the bible tells them to do it. That they should be subject to their husbands.

    It makes me sick. The men for demanding and encouraging it, the women who perpetuate it.

  6. I recently wrote a post about this from the perspective of someone who has unintentionally taken advantage a social situation provided to me as a man.

    I have recently had a sociological awakening as I am now the father of a daughter that - I have no desire to be treated the way that I have treated many women.

    Perspective is a funny thing.

  7. cherice8:21 pm

    I agree that feminism is about equality for all (including animals). I think that we are now onto our "fourth wave" and hopefully the "equal" wave. The male bashing of the radical wave is unfortunately a contributor to the feminist backlash where "feminisim" became the new "f" word.

    I consider myself feminist and sometimes with hairy armpits lol. Although that is due to having a new baby and not a philosphical stance. :)


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