Understanding My Feminisms

January 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

As I enter my fourth year of my liberal arts education, I’ve started to think about the ways in which my women and gender studies major will apply to my life outside of academic walls.   Several times times over the past few years, I’ve had the experience of sitting in a women and gender studies class and wondering how I could have ever possibly lived without some particular piece of knowledge. Those moments, as one imagines college doing, seemed to shake me to the very core as I imagined just how close I had come to living the rest of my life without ever entering this new reality.

I’ve begun to realize that these revelations have revolved around my understanding of feminism and my identification as a young feminist. When I learned of the racism, elitism, and overall exclusivity of the waves of women I considered my feminist mothers, I felt completely betrayed. I was sure that I was part of a different wave of feminists, young feminists who were all sisters, who loved each other for their differences, who understood what their predecessors had done wrong and knew how to correct it.
As romantic as this idea may be, I don’t think it’s yet correct. The blogger Maysie writes in At the Intersection of Feminist Street and Anti-Racist Road:

As far as I’m concerned, there can be no feminism without an anti-racist analysis, without a class analysis, without a queer analysis and challenge to homophobia, without an ability     analysis, without an understanding of the many ways in which oppression forces us to     live our lives and deal with the oppressive systems of this […] society.

As much as I’d like to think that my feminisms do exactly that, it’s still in many ways woefully inadequate.

I’ve had the opportunity to discover feminisms in light of one of these analyses, for a particular topic, or in a specific time setting through women and gender studies classes. I do, however, believe these windows have taught me the framework to discover my feminisms on a much broader scale and in a way that allows me to apply an intersectional feminism to my everyday practices.

Blogger Jessica Yee, however, is quick to dismiss the idea that acknowledging intersectionality makes it so. In many ways, feminism and feminists may be making the same mistakes of past movements. While I think there is something to be said for changing our individual actions, I hope to enter the discussion and wider community to openly talk about the ways in which communities of feminists can unite to take actions that live up to the promises of change.

While this historical moment is one of significant economic trouble, social strife, and political instability, I think it is also an incredible opportunity for positive changes. The internet has facilitated the creation an increasingly global community of feminists questioning, demanding, and discussing the realities of many different types of people and situations. The moment has come when the feminist theory that has been so crucial in academia can find its place in real life practice, and for the lives of all types of women to affect the scholarly literature.  As a women and gender studies major interested in changing the world, I want to figure out the ways in which the readings I’ve been doing over the past few years can help encourage the growth of these feminisms and promote positive changes.

As someone as part of the world of young feminists, I think I can contribute to the community by examining the ways in which the feminisms and feminist communities that I’ve been a part of have failed to really “walk the walk” when it comes to examining intersectionality.  Each blog entry will look at a different category–whether marked or unmarked in my own life–to explore the ways in which certain feminisms have been ignored, inspired and co-opted historically, and the ways in which they are still being pushed aside. Combining both feminist theory and current feminist bloggers enables an meaningful and relatable discussion. I hope that this blog will be a place to discuss, learn, and hopefully contribute to the amazing women who have come before me and enable a future feminism that remembers everyone.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or ideas!

Jessica Yee’s blog post can be found at: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2010/03/feminist-activism-white-western-notions-polite-discourse

Maysie’s blog post can be found at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/maysie/2009/08/intersection-feminist-street-and-anti-racist-road

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