Monday, June 23, 2008

My Feminism: Theory and Practice

[Note to readers: Last week we asked for some feminist definitions of feminism, and for readers' personal stories about how feminism has played a part in their lives. Today, we are honored to have Amelia of Female Impersonator as a guest writer. These are her words...]

As far as my definition of feminism goes, it's been really hard to come up with. When I first began calling myself a feminist during my first term at college (Fall 2007), my boyfriend had a really hard time understanding. We had several difficult discussions in which he asked me to explain what feminism was so he could better understand where I was coming from. I finally got through to him by explaining that feminism, for me, was a general understanding that women suffer many inequalities that do not exist for men because of the society that we live in which has been structured in many ways to favor men. I then explained that the way in which I practice feminism is by recognizing those instances in which people, the government, the media, etc. treat women unjustly and I call them out for it because no change will come if people are so used to sexism that they don't even notice it. I feel as if true equality cannot come about if our society does not first recognize that their are inequalities and decide how to address them. That is all feminism is about - equality. And true equality certainly isn't going to come about if we merely put a band-aid on the problem of sexism and pretend its all better. As a feminist, I try to dig out the problems in our society and bring them to the surface so they can be properly addressed.

Some of the ways I practice feminism in my life:

This post is a little illustration of how I practice feminism in my daily life by recognizing misogyny in everyday media, like the music that I constantly listen to. I realized, while writing this post, that although some of the songs by this band (Nickelback) clearly were offensive and sexist, others were less so. I had a difficult time critiquing them because I like their music, which hurts me as a feminist because I know it's not always respectful.

I also try to fight misogyny in the media by refusing to purchase "women's" magazines which I feel are damaging to women's self-esteem and confidence. My action project for my first gender and women's studies class involved this idea.

I also call out other media, like television shows or websites, that are sexist (here and here). When I do that, I get a lot of negative responses, like people think I am acting superior to them because they like those shows. Even when I try to explain why I won't watch certain shows, people often choose to ignore me out of spite for my supposed superiority complex. That has led to a lot of conflict in myself - Can a feminist like some misogynist media and really call him/herself a feminist? I have decided that that is indeed possible, as long as one does not passively accept the misogyny and is able to identify and recognize it.

I also practice feminism on a slightly less-than-daily basis when I am in school by doing a feminist radio hour during which my co-host (Kate, from the Female Impersonator blog) and I talk about feminism and try to get casual radio listeners involved in discussing the sexism that exists around us everyday. This has been a really empowering experience for me so far because I have had numerous fellow students tell me that they listened to our radio show and they were enlightened about many of the problems that still exist in our society when it comes to gender equality. The same can be said about blogging, which is a big way in which I practice feminism in my life.

[Cross-posted at Female Impersonator]


Amelia said...

Yay, thanks. :)

Habladora said...

Amelia - We're so excited and happy to have you as our first-ever guest blogger! You've really put your feminist views into practice through your blog and radio show - and with your willingness to patiently explain just what the problem is to those who are reluctant to see the sexism and racism in our society. It looks like feminism's future is in good hands!

Sally said...

I agree with Habladora. Great post! I think it was especially important to note:

Can a feminist like some misogynist media and really call him/herself a feminist? I have decided that that is indeed possible, as long as one does not passively accept the misogyny and is able to identify and recognize it.

More and more I find that people really shut you out if you "accept" misogynist media, because they don't see that you really are evaluating it rather than laying back and taking it.

LynnAlexander said...

This reminds me of one distinction people make between the "waves"- that modern feminists are less interested in censorship or suppression but are more interested in talking about the media or image or song or book.

Hiding misogyny or ignoring it does not make it go away, and it is hard to have a conversation about something if our leaders call for a ban of this, this, and this. Know what I mean?

There are of course different school of thought about rap, the word ho, attending galleries where women are under-represented...but if we don't go, how do we know and how can we talk about it?

I guess that's where I am coming from on this.

Interesting post from Amelia, full of concrete things. And thanks Habladora!

professor what if said...

Thanks for a great post and for sharing all the ways you enact feminism each day!