[Note to readers: Today, as part of our continuing series 'feminists on feminism,' we are honored to have Feminist Gal from Oh, You're a FEMINIST?! as a guest blogger. These are her words...]
Question #1. What is your definition of feminism:
I wrote a post back when I started blogging where I tried to define MY feminism along with some of the feminist identities out there. Here is what I came up with for MY feminism:
I identify with feminism because of its commitment to social, political and economic equality for all people. Regarding women specifically, my feminism allows me to: be independent, while depending on those I love; be flirty and "girly" whenever I want, without it compromising how people view my intelligence or sexual freedom; exercise, for me, for my body, for my health and strength, not to fit a status quo of beauty; stand firm for what I believe in, and not be called too masculine or a bitch. My feminism does not discount the differences between men and women, but strongly believes that these differences are either a product of, or exaggerated by, socialization. My feminism values men because it values equality. My feminism is anti "isms." It seeks to end the discrimination of people on the basis of sex, age, race, social class, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Oh, and my feminism is always changing, because like the waves of change flow through society and politics, feminism needs to be fluid to reflect the needs of the world.
I also quoted Rebecca West who is just as remarkably relevant now as she was in 1913, "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute..."
Question #2: my "click" moment with feminism:
I definitely came to my feminist identity through academia. Recognizing and admitting to my own privilege (even getting the opportunity to go to college) was a huge part of that. When I get my ph.d. i'll be the first doctor in my family, and that's really something, ya know? My parents gave up a lot when they immigrated our family to America and I value that and realize the privilege that goes along with that. My feminism grew with my understanding of women's studies, feminist theory, and psychology.
As I developed my own ideas, away from those of my family, I came to understand the necessity of equality, of social justice, and of change. I also started realizing that "tolerance" wasn't enough. We need to celebrate diversity and learn from each other, not just "tolerate" one another. I quickly understood that there is no way to achieve equal rights until the basis for those rights is a mutual respect and value for each other. So my feminism developed from there. And it was fostered by amazing professors and mentors along the way who I love and thank for all they've done. Some of whom include Marita McComiskey, Dawn Goode, JoAnne Lewis and Mary Crawford. I don't think they know the extent of the impression they've made on me and on my life. I'm glad for this space in which to thank them, even though I doubt they'll ever read it :)
I had no "ah ha!" or "click" moment with feminism. It was a combination of experiences, opportunities, and lessons I learned in and outside the classroom in college. However, it was definitely my first WS class, taught by Dawn, who was then a grad student, that opened my eyes to the world of feminism. That class was the start of something that continues to change my life now and allows me to change others' lives.
The answer to question #3 will have to be a cliff hanger because Professor What If and I are working on an activism in/after college post together so stay tuned for that on our blogs :)
UPDATE FROM HABLADORA: The 'activism after college' posts that Feminist Gal references can (and should) be read here and here.