Required Open Thread: Option Two

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In class today we started developing tentative responses to the question, "What is feminism." For required open thread: option two, I'd like to read more about your tentative thoughts on feminism. You could post a comment here about:

  • How feminism is articulated in the hooks, Castro and/or Hoffman reading from today. Any passages that you found particularly compelling/troubling/helpful?
  • The experience of developing a definition with your group members. Was it difficult?
  • Stereotypes about feminism represented in mainstream media
  • Or anything that relates to the question of how to define feminism (maybe whether or not we should even try to define it).
You could also post the definition that your group came up in class today. If you have already commented on open thread option one, you don't have to post here as well (although you can and earn 2 points extra credit). Your comment is due by 11PM tomorrow. 

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Todays class was great for me. I worried about writing my definition of feminism in paper form, and although my group discussion was at times difficult it has put my mind at ease. I mostly realized that there will never be consensus as to what feminism means, but exploring it can bring about amazing discussion and themes. Until today I never understood how a woman could not want to verbally identify as a feminist. Someone in my group brought up great points about want to be seen as a safe and friendly person. To her identifying as a feminist could lend others to believe that she is too politically, or she wouldn't be able to have fun and not start long and intense discussions. Although I personally disagreed, I saw what she was saying, and I think it has some validity to it. Oftentimes the connotation of feminists is someone who likes to argue or debate. The issue that I think should be addressed is why it makes people uncomfortable for women to be seen as assertive political people.

Other stereotypes of feminist include the following: man-hater, but are seen as masculine at the same time, fighters, annoying, and so much more. I hope to discuss this a lot more in my paper!

So there is a lot going on with bell hooks laying out the history of feminism. The whole time I was so conflicted with my stance on feminism. I went from being skeptical, to being flat out confused, to scared, to inspired.

I was skeptical from the beginning because of the negative connotations feminism has. The negative connotations are there for a reason so I could not just ignore them. Before this reading when I thought of feminism I related it with obnoxious and pretentious females. I was certain I believed in equality and anti-sexism but not open to labeling myself a feminist.

The confusion and scared emotions kicked in when reading about the conversion group meetings. I could not help myself but to draw comparisons with religion and how religious groups function, spreading the word about what they believe and being seen as extreme crazy folk. I eventually got to the point of separating feminism and religion when it hit me that feminism deals with actual people and not fairytale like stories. Once I made that clear cut distinction I was very relieved.

One part I just flat out disagreed with was on page 116 when bell hooks writes "The safety and continuation of life on the planet requires feminist conversion of men."
My highlighter went off immediately and my ball point pen scribbled the word "disagree" within a nanosecond. I want to say bell hooks was exaggerating with that sentence but it's hard to tell. I honestly do not think we are in harm of men today and that life on this planet will continue regardless if men call themselves feminists or not.

However after reading "Unmooring to Connect: Holistic Feminisms" by Jessica Hoffmann I felt inspired.
A common bond and belief like feminism can do so much good for individuals and communities. The amount of sharing, donating, and volunteering she experienced at the 2010 Pachamama Skillshare Retreat was uplifting.

During today's class, we have talked about what feminism is. In my own opinion, feminism is a collection of series movement to help women to get equal opportunities or rights for women. Many people believed that women be subordinate to men. It is a general thought in today's society.

"Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression"
Under this definition, men and women get different pay from equal work. Feminists are trying to make sure men and women get equal pay for equal work. Feminists want to live in a world where there is no domination. Females and males are not alike and always equal.

"Females can be just as sexist as men. And while that does not excuse or justify male domination, it does mean that it would be naive and wrong minded for feminist thinkers to see the movements as simplistically being for women against men."
As Hooks said, women and men should have equal rights, and women should not belong or be subordinate to men. Men should not be their enemy.Feminist activists should not be like anti-male sentiment or some other stuff.

When thinking about the feminist meaning I find myself getting a little confused because I from the bell hooks reading she states that "feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression", but she also said that anti-choice believer can't be a feminist. It's it your choice whether you want to be a feminist and anti-choice or not? Just because you think that having an abortion is wrong and go against it doesn't mean you're not anymore feminist then others. She says that feminist starts from inside and I think this is true in order for us to truly be a feminist we need to feel the need to change things so that everyone is equal, but I think her dream of what the world could be like if there weren't any sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression is a little off because there will always be conflict in this world whether it's for power and control or for greed. When reading bell's book I learned that feminist today aren't like feminist from centuries ago due to the fact that as time goes by more and more people are using feminist as a mean to get what they want, not helping other women but themselves. So when asked about what the definition of feminist is I'll have to say feminist is whatever you want it to be whether it's man-hating or whether it really supports the cause for women to get equal to that of men. It's your own definition of it defines you that really matter.

The definition for feminism that we came up with was " A movement that promotes anti-sexiest ways of thinking while ultimately aiming to dismantle the patriarchal structure of the society and advocates issues of human rights". The definition provided by bell hooks is by far the most simple yet inclusive one I have come across, though I do agree with @kuexx007 that her claim that one cannot be anti-choice and a feminist is controversial and may not appeal to many.
For many feminism is a way of thinking, rather than a movement that they actively participate in. It is important to recognize that each person's definition of feminism will be shaped by their own experiences, environment, education, family and other factors. In this context, bell hooks seems to discredit 'white privileged women' as feminists.
The common perception of feminists are as man-haters, irrational, trouble makers, 'wannabe men'. Feminists need to find access popular media to change this image. I am very interested in the portrayal of "women" in media and consider it to be a feminist issue that needs more attention.

As I said in class, I was unpleasantly surprised by the line about women who “choose lesbianism.” I’m not a lesbian—as I said, I’m an aromantic asexual*--but I’m still rather sensitive to the assertion that anyone chooses their sexual orientation, as people say that about us, too. (Actually, what the person I was talking to a while back said was that asexuality is a “treatable mental disorder,” and by not seeking treatment we’re choosing to be asexual. I probably shouldn’t repeat what my response was. But I digress.)

I was not surprised by the gender binaryism. I’m pretty much used to that; I’m surprised when someone does remember about us non-binary people. I was—and still am—very curious about how mainstream feminism views non-binary people, both those of us who also identify as sort of female (yes, it’s possible to be both) and those who don’t. I wasn’t optimistic, and now I think I was right not to be.

Having said two things I didn’t like, I guess I should now say something that I did like: I may be the only one, but I really liked her assertion that one cannot be a feminist if one is anti-choice. I’ve always been of that opinion—if you do something so incredibly anti-woman as say that the “rights” of fetus trump the rights of a woman, I am sorry, but you are not a feminist.

*I suppose I should actually explain what an aromantic asexual is this time. There is something called “asexuality.” It’s the sexual orientation no one’s heard of, where, instead of being sexually attracted to one gender or the other gender or all genders, we’re sexually attracted to no genders—no one. An asexual is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. There is something separate called “aromanticism.” An aromantic is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction. Now, most asexuals aren’t aromantic, and most aromantics aren’t asexual, but once in a while you do get someone who’s both, like me. We’re approximately .2% of the population

Personally, I thought the in-class discussion today was awesome. It is sometimes stereotyped that because of my sexual orientation, that I should be a huge feminist and know more about it than I do. The truth is that I am actually not at all familiar with feminism or its workings. Today's small group discussion was extremely helpful to clarify some points that I was a little confused about, thanks to my group members who were full of knowledge! With that being said, we did have some trouble coming to an agreement on what our final definition of feminism should be, because we kept getting sidetracked and talking about other feminist issues.

Towards the end of the discussion, we decided that feminism (to us, anyways) is more of a personal viewpoint than an overall, general description. It is unfair to put all feminists in one category, because many of them have different viewpoints, or may not be working towards the same goal. We also discussed how there is conflict within feminism itself, and I can see this being one of the issues that is preventing feminism from being more well-known than it is. The biggest thing I took from the discussion yesterday was that you can be a feminist no matter who you are, male, female, gay, straight & otherwise, feminine, etc. Feminism doesn't have to fall under the stereotype of "natural" women being radical and protesting on the streets all day. To be fair, if someone thinks they are a feminist, then let them be one.

In my opinion there are many stereotypes about feminism in mainstream media. If one does not follow what the feminist movement is about, one will easily judge. I believe some major stereotypes about feminism is that you have to be a lesbian, you hate men, and all feminists are the same. There are many more but these are the ones that stand out to me. All of these are far from true, but people do not take the time to realize it. A feminist does not need to be a lesbian to stand up for what she believes in, she also does not need to hate men, a feminist just wants a male to understand where she is coming from and to move closer to equality, and all feminists are far from being the same, they all have things that they believe in and all define feminism in a different way. Feminists may have some similar qualities, but they are far from the same.

In class the experience for developing our definition of feminism was honestly not that bad. Maybe it was just because of the girls I was with, but we all had similar concepts and just put them together to have a solid definition. Although each of us have our own beliefs, we each said what we had to say and worked on it together. Our definition was: A movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression, a movement towards equality between all genders that starts with strong independent attitudes that are willing to work together for a common purpose.

Group 1 Definition: Feminism is about ending sexism. It is about including class, gender, sexuality, race into the conversation when asserting women’s rights.

The Joy Castro article was interesting. I appreciated the intimate level with which she approached her subject. I can’t imagine it is easy to discuss such alienation, but at the same time I felt empowered by her words. As a woman of color, I find myself in similar predicaments. This happened in an American Lit Survey course I took two summers ago, where I found myself cornered when my teacher asked whether it was wrong or right for slaves to learn how to read. She posed similar questions, framing them around women’s rights. I was the only person of color in feeling infuriated or uncomfortable most of the time. I realized later that I wasn’t able to confront her in an articulate way showed not my emotion, but rather my logic for why her standards were archaic, inappropriate and misguided. Sometimes academia has a way of marginalizing those who want to make it even more than we think.

This summer I worked on a Native American farm called Dream of Wild Health growing out White Oneida corn. The farm is based on the foundation that good food should be preserved, protected and maintained. Nutrition and alternative medicines are at the heart of the farm’s practice. Every summer a group of Native American students venture up for three sessions to learn about more advantageous ways of caring for the earth. I realized this summer that these kinds of holistic workshops should be implemented in schools. Children spend too much time indoors, hence those “biophobia” theories.

My interaction with the environment is spiritual and personal. I treat the environment as if it were my own child. I disagree that the Feminist movement has swelled into so many genres and issues that adding the environment would cause more confusion. Environmental issues target everyone. Holistic ways of understanding our bodies and our earth should be central in even a high school curriculum.
In Hoffman’s article, she retraces time spent on her holistic retreat. While she factors in the carpooling, free lodging, food and childcare, I wondered even still, how accessible is a retreat like this one to women with low incomes. Most people can’t take time off except when they are given holiday vacation.

As for bell hooks, she remains one of my favorite feminists to refer to when I feel like I need strength and encouragement.
I am in my own CR group with two other women. This allows for an opportunity to discuss what stakes have been raised in our gwss class and what is happening on a more personal and local level.
I respect hooks' practice of writing from the margins not as a space of inferiority, but as a voice that demands recognition.

I really enjoyed the conversation that my group had about defining feminism. Like many of the other groups in the class, we agreed that "feminism" can, and does, mean different things to different people. Many of us in the group admitted that we have been hestitant to self-identify as feminists because of the negative connotations that many people have with that term. I mentioned that there are times when I already feel "too political" in my social circle, and I feel like I have to tone myself down a little bit so that people don't internally groan when I express yet another opinion. I am working on overcoming that hestitation to be my politically aware self, because I really feel that one of the key components of being a good feminist is the willingness to discuss the difficult issues with other people - especially people who have misconceptions about feminism and feminist issues. As our group said, feminsim encompasses an awareness about injustice/inequality in our world, and a desire and commitment to take action to change things. We were especially concerned that our definition of feminism include the "action" component, because we all agreed that feminism inherently implies/requires activism (which does no necessarily need to be radical/extreme activism, and even "activism" can mean different things to different feminists). I think part of the reason that I, and so many other women, hesitate to self-identify as a feminist, is that we don't have a lot of examples of revered strong, active, feminists in our popular media. Who would go see a movie about a strong political woman, who doesn't fall in love at some point in the movie? For example, today on NPR I heard an interview with the (female) writer of the script for a movie that is being made about the Burmese political activist, Aung San Suu Kyi. I think she is a fascinating and strong political woman, and I was interested in both the interview and the movie being made. I was taken aback, however, when the script writer mentioned that she decided to focus the movie on the love story between Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband, because she felt that that's where the strong emotional current existed, that would draw people in. Honestly, I found myself getting very irritated because there is so much to this woman's fascinating life - so many interesting and emotional and strong experiences and actions in her life - and yet, this movie is going to focus not mainly on her political activism, but on her romantic relationship, on her marriage. Why? I'm not saying that her marriage shouldn't be included as PART of her story, but why does that have to be what is used to draw people in? Anyway, the interview was interesting to me because it related to the question that we discussed in class about representations of feminists in the media and popular culture.

I also enjoyed the group discussion that we had in class about our different definitions of feminism, though, to be honest, I disagreed that feminism needs to be totally, 100%, inclusive. I think that the feminist movement SHOULD be very open, accessible, and largely inclusive, but I think that it is necessary for the feminist movement to have some parameters, some sense of definition about what it means to be a feminist, in order for feminism/feminists to achieve goals and create change. I know this is the crux of the problem with defining feminism, with defining any movement, really, --- where do we draw that line of what is/isn't feminism, and who is/isn't a feminist? It's a difficult thing to do, because in creating a definition of feminism - even a very broad one - some people are going to be excluded from that definition. I'm not sure I am getting my point across clearly here - I'll have to think on this a bit more.

For me, it is a bit of a struggle to find a clear definition for feminism. Part of this is because feminism is such a broad term that applies to many different cultures, genders, races, etc., yet it is also very specific within those groups of people. The other part of my struggle is because I am still trying to define what it means to me. In the way I can make the best sense of it, and the way our group could make the best sense of it was this: "A movement towards equality between all genders that starts with strong, independent attitudes that are willing to work together for a common purpose". Our group (Group 6) tended to agree on most issues that we discussed relative to feminism so it was pretty easy to come up with something that we could all agree on. First we decided that "movement" was the best way to describe it because something like "struggle" or "fight towards" seemed to imply something violent. As bell hooks and Castro discussed, many of the gut reactions to people's sense of feminism is violent and extreme. It was important to our group to convey something non-violent but still powerful in its own way. We also chose to use the words "all genders" to make sure we were being inclusive of everyone, because as bell hooks talked about, "Feminism is for Everybody". Lastly, we thought of our views of feminist people that we admire or respect. Not that there aren't other types of powerful feminists, however the types of people we thought of immediately were "strong and independent" but they were also interested in cooperation for the movement.

I do think that it is important to define feminism so that feminists can have a clear, over-arching purpose. At the same time, I think it is important to not have too detailed of a definition, because for each culture, race, gender, community, etc., it will slightly vary.

I really enjoyed hearing the definitions from other groups though. It was helpful to get a better sense of the global movement towards feminism. I've never thought about it in the global sense before to be honest and it was helpful to get a more rounded idea of feminism.

Well to start I did like the definition that was given by bell hooks that "feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." To me I think its broad enough to fit every type and specific focus of feminists inside of this definition. The question was raised is being inclusive important? I think that it is, because one of the overall ideas of feminists is to include and have gender/race, ect. ideas included and heard, youso then for in the definition of feminism there to be a putting down and omitting a group or belief doesnt registar. Nor do I think that just because a prominent feminist (bell hooks)in this case, says one can't be anti-abortion and be a feminist makes her word and her prerequisites for being a feminist law. It would be easy to have everyone have the same views,morals, and beliefs as us, but this isnt the case and just as with religion,politics and other things people will have their own differring views. Who are we to single one another out based solely on how we see one issue? I don't think that is a right, only an oppinion that bell hooks offers us. Another issue that was brough up was, is because there are so many ultra-defined and secluded groups is feminism in this day and age accessible and making a difference? I don't have a specific answer to that but what I do believe I can say is that the move of feminsim thats going on right now could be more collective in its efforts. Not to say that one issue supercedes another but there has to be a coming together for something to be done about these pressing issues. There are some issues different groups of feminst agree upon, they just have to find them and connect. Sounds easier than it may be, but we must not make excuses for people and their lack of action.

When I first was asked to define feminism I thought that it would be an easy task because I had always defined it as men and women being equal. However, after really thinking it over and discussing all the different views in our small groups I realized that it was much more than just equality. Feminism is a really broad term and quite honestly I feel that it is a little out-dated. I feel as though the word feminism has built up a negative connotation over the years which makes it an intimidating word to define yourself as. When people think of feminism, many think of it as a man-hating term; I feel that it is more or less just referring to a fight against sexism. In reality, I do not think that it's fair to give feminism one definition because I believe it's a term that everyone should have their own personal definition. I feel that when one is asked if they consider themselves a feminist one's initial reaction is intimidation. The word feminist may be a little intimidating for a male to define himself as and women may be intimidated by defining themselves as a feminist because they don't want to seem like they hate all men. It is hard for me to think of one specific definition because for every gender, race, religion, etc. the definitions will be a little different. If there were to be one detailed definition it might turn people off or exclude specific "parties" from being supportive of the feminist movement.

Stereotypes about feminism represented in mainstream media: People usually don't willing to say that they are a feminist. This is mainly because feminism represented in a wrong way in a lot of media. For example, many people make fun of feminism or find feminists strong, powerful, and stubborn women.

Feminism can take many faces. As discussed in class, this enables the feminist movement to spread across the globe and spectrum of different cultures. I believe each culture and even each person within each culture has the right to define feminism in whatever way deemed as fit as long as it demotes inequalities seen between the sexes. The degree to which these demotions are presented in different cultures may look differently and seem miniscule depending upon interpretations, but it is important to remember that even the smallest improvements can lead to significant future growth in a society. Too often in western thought, we project our views onto opposing ideas with the belief our way is the best and only way. I believe that this movement will first take have many different looks to it before it will come together as a strong and united front.

I know this is a day late, but I figured I have a lot to say on our last class discussion I should just post anyways. As I mentioned to my group during our class discussion, I had never considered myself a feminist until recently. I always felt disconnected from the "typical image" of a feminist. For awhile I, like so many other people, saw feminism in a really unreachable context. I love men and make-up, and high heels and doing my hair. I have always embraced and loved my femininity, so therefore how could I be a feminist when I played into societies gender roles? It wasn't until the last few years when I realized what feminism was TO ME.

I believe that women should be treated equal to men. I believe that sexism and sexist attitudes leads to oppression, and I DON'T believe in oppression or discrimination for any woman, man, or person on this planet.

I believe that there is a basic definition for "feminism", that can easily be described as the longing for equal rights, for ALL human beings. I think were the title "feminism" gets tricky is defining it past just that.

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