7.14.2005

Power

I posted this entry as comment in Neva's blog where she said:

That's why when people ask me if I'm a feminist, I say no. I'm not a feminist. I'm a woman. Period. The "politics" of being a woman in a still-patriarchal world is complicated enough without imposing this label on myself. Besides, it's a label that men chose to call women who didn't fit into the mold they wanted. Why should I call myself something that men think I should call myself to make it easier for them to categorize me?

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You know why the powers that be have worked so hard and consistently at systematically demonizing the ‘label’ feminist? It’s because they fear its power.

As we all know words have powers and the labels we attach to ourselves (whether its mother, student, poet, painter, comics reader) embolden us, encourage us to fulfill its full potential.

And feminism and the movement it spawned has been a powerful agent of change. Consider this entry in wikipedia:

Feminism has effected many changes in Western society, including women's suffrage; broad employment for women at more equitable wages ("equal pay for equal work"); the right to initiate divorce proceedings and the introduction of "no fault" divorce; the right of women in almost all countries to exercise a degree of control over their own bodies and medical decisions, including obtaining contraception and safe abortions; and many others.

As Western society has become increasingly accepting of feminist principles, many of these issues, perceived as radical in the 19th century, are now part of mainstream political thought, such as the right of women to vote, own land, and choose their own marital partners, or decide not to marry. Almost no one in Western societies today questions these rights.

What we’re feeling right now is the backlash which began in the 80s and made its way into the 90s: women are told that the feminist project is so over (it’s not. There are still a lot of gender-based inequities that need to be addressed: girls education, child-brides, domestic violence, etc). We’re not encouraged to look towards those who came before us (and who fought valiantly for the rights and liberties we now consider as our inalienable right) and consequently honor their legacy.

Sure, there have been misfires and a number of misguided people who use feminist rhetoric to advance their selves, but then again that happens everywhere.

But we cannot dismiss the power that’s inherent in the word “feminist.”

I too have struggled with that ‘label.’ I am after all a product of our times. For me though, the struggle was whether I was worthy to call myself a feminist or not.

1 Comments:

Blogger Maria said...

you are worthy period.

7:11 AM  

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