Friday, October 30, 2009

How do you define feminism?


by Priscilla P

Before I started getting involved with the WRC, I wasn't quite sure what being a feminist entailed. Words that came to mind were independent, empowered, and standing up against "the man."
Curious, I decided to go and ask a few people about their definition of feminist, and if they considered themselves a feminist. What are your answers to these questions?

How do you define feminism?

“I think it's the notion of women obtaining completely equal rights with men in all areas of society, as well as having the choice to act/dress as feminine as they please (I find radical feminist types who yell at other women for wanting to dress nicely to be completely counterproductive to the movement).”
Brian Kravitz

“I define feminism strictly as the belief that women deserve the same treatment as men.”
Alex McEntee

“For me, feminism is the process of becoming aware of gender roles in our culture and then finding a means to counteract or change them, because I believe these gender roles have a largely negative impact on our progress as intelligent human beings. As these gender roles are initially forced upon us or encouraged by our upbringing, collective consciousness, and a large majority of our popular culture, they maintain a dominant influence in they way we live our lives and upholding females as inferior to males. Feminism is recognizing the way gender roles have impacted and continue to affect our self esteem, social interactions, available opportunities, and rights as human beings. Though, as I learn more about feminism, perhaps my definition will become more complex or change.”
Molly Karinen

“Feminism is a movement of a group of people rallied around the social, political, and economic equality of woman attributed by the shift of woman from households to manufacturing jobs due to WW1. As time progressed woman found themselves in the workplace under a pretext of values on how woman should act. Feminism wishes to rise above the glass ceiling of these prescribed normalities.”
Paul Fleck

“I am going to attempt to reconstruct some ideas I got from speaking with different feminist Philosophy students:
Philosophically there are several phases of feminism, the first being a viewpoint that women and men varied in an unreconcilable way (from a subjective viewpoint), such that a Man could never understand womanly-things and visa versa. It was a separatist theory. Assumed in this theory is the statement that if men and women have different subjective experiences, each is equally valid to one's self.
Then there was a period of what we usually think of as feminism, the equality of women in a broader sense, but not in terms of a subjectivity (at least not formally). This is what you might think of when you think of suffrage, and general womens-rights activism.
After this there is a splintering of the concept, which was way too complicated for me to try to deeply understand.”
Kevin Folk

“Feminism seeks to break down and examine gender constructs in order to liberate all sexes from oppression.”
Fallon Roderick

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

"I am most definitely a feminist because I do not agree with the disadvantageous positions that primarily women experience as women are cast as the lesser sex."
Molly Karinen

"Although I strive for social equality on many levels including women's rights, I do not consider myself to be a feminist. I believe the right of being a feminist should be reserved for a selection of woman that understand the history and difficulties that has been placed around their place in humanity over the years, and should not be an excuse, offense, or rational for any other agenda except equality."
Paul Fleck

"I am the manifestation of feminism, so yes, I am most definitely a feminist. I consider myself to be an ecofeminist"
Fallon Roderick

"Yes I am probably some sort of feminist, but more realistically I would hold the view of a general equality, one not specific to women."
Kevin Folk

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's not personal, it's business

By Taliajae Freedomfighter

Training has been intense lately. My outlet for processing the issues that are closest to my heart is writing. Thus I write a lot.

Today we were discussing sexism. Like all issues of oppression this can be a touchy one for many people. It affects everyone everyday. We are talking about how oppression is supported by our institutions and government, creating a trickle down affect. Examples of institutions are media, education, laws, criminal justice, workplace, etc.

At one point a male in the class joked about how our discussion was making men look like the "bad guy". Another student pointed out how that really isn't the point. There is no bad guy, so to speak. Shortly after that comment the same man added that he felt that if women would really try harder that men would definitely support them as far as gaining equality. He then went on to say something to the effect of "Women just need to work harder instead of just doing nothing, until they do, of course there will be sexism". He basically was placing the blame on women.

Instantly, half of the class raised their hands to rebuttal, including myself. As people took turns explaining to him that women are not, in fact, to blame for their own oppression I started to think about who was and why do we get so defensive about this issue.

When it comes down to it, no one really is to blame. Its not one man who is perpetrating all of the sexism in the world; just as it’s not one woman allowing the men to oppress her. No woman is helping sexism exist. Sure, we see women shaking their booty on TV or acting inappropriate in an adult film and think, "Jesus, she is only making it worse". But in reality it is only the system we have set up in society that is created to hold the oppressed people down. This influences women into thinking that their greatest worth is their appearance and body type.

This leads me to my second point; the issue of oppression is not personal, its just business. A lot of people automatically assume that someone talking about how men are the people in power think that person is trying to blame the man. It isn’t about you man. Oppression is a system of control that society has set up to keep the oppressed powerless and the powerful even stronger. This isn’t saying that each man on the planet is oppressing the women in his life every day. Some men do. They abuse and rape and belittle women. But there are many more that support and love and encourage women in their lives. It’s just a matter of men benefiting from sexism and women loosing out. Just as white people benefit from racism and people of color don't.

Lets stop arguing about who is to blame and start banning together to create some real change. Women can make a difference but it’s the men who are allies that can help us get the message through.

You're so vain, I don't dress like this for you....

By Taliajae Freedomfighter

I wear a full spectrum of clothing. I love jeans and 'skater' Tees (as we called them when I was 18). I also love big, baggy sweatshirts to snuggle up in when its chilly outside. Tennis shoes are my preferred pair of footwear and for summer I go with flip flops. In essence I tend to dress for comfort.

Having said this I do love to dress up once in a while. I'll wear a moderately short skirt, a low cut tank top, knee high boots or stilettos. I will do my hair up and put on more makeup than usual and go strut my stuff. Why do I do this you ask?

For me. Not you.

I think a lot of men assume that when a woman dresses 'provocative, scantily clad, sexy' what ever you call it, that you are doing it for them. Sometimes we probably are, but I think most of the time we do it for ourselves. I like to dress sexy to make myself feel good about the way I look. I don't normally put a lot of stock into my appearance but sometimes a girl just wants to get fancy. This is were the message gets blurred.

When a woman walks down the street in an outfit that shows off her curves or enhances her body then society gets the impression that she is trying to attract men. This isn't always the case. The problem is that then she puts herself in a position of possible cat calls, stares and even stalking. Sadly this is all too common.

Why do women have to worry about the way they dress attracting men who might harass or hurt them? I do. When I go out at night and am wearing a skirt I instinctively scan the street I'm on for men who may be paying attention. When I walk to my car at night I immediately look in the back seat and under it. When a man calls out to me on the street I glare at him and then check once in a while to make sure that he isn't following me.

These fears are instilled in us at a very early age. I got a lot of the rules from my mom. "The world is not a safe place for girls. Watch out for men in strange cars. Don't walk alone at night. Check the back seat for a kidnapper." Society has taught us that men get to act on their sex drive which then puts women is a position to be prey.

I have to daughters. I don't want to see them fear the streets at night. I don't want them to be one of the 60% of women who are assaulted in their lives. I want to fight back. Take back the night. Stand up against sexism and sexual violence.

I am a vagina warrior, until the violence stops

Let me tell ya 'bout the birds and the bees

By: Taliajae Freedomfighter

Let's face it. Sex education is seriously lacking in most schools, even completely gone in others. On top of that there is very limited reproductive health education as well. This results in a lot of mis-understandings about our bodies as women and how to protect ourselves, as well as our reproductive rights. Lets get down to business...

Did you know that when you go in for your annual physical if you don’t specifically request to be tested for all STDs then they will only test you for cervical cancer. I did not know this until a few years ago. It was slightly unsettling to me. If you want to get tested for STDs and HIV specifically request it from your doctor. It is your right to know.

If you need reproductive care such as tests, pregnancy testing or counseling, pregnancy options, general education, birth control and contraceptives, etc... You can find all these at Planned Parenthood. They are a great option if you are low income and need immediate care.

Please don’t confuse Planned Parenthood with other "free pregnancy clinics" otherwise known as fake clinics. Sadly there are a few religious groups who set these up all over your community advertising as pregnancy testing clinics but once you are tested they then push their abstinence only agenda and pressure women into having the child no matter the circumstances. These clinics are very unsafe and disturbing. Educate other women on them.

Women have a right to choose what is best for them as far as pregnancy options. Keeping the child, giving it up for adoption, or abortion. I would never take that choice away from a woman. We deserve the right to choice and education to keep ourselves healthy and safe.

Here are some excellent links to more information on reproductive health: