Friday, June 25, 2004

a thinking woman's meme

A week or two ago Roxanne at Rox Populi posted an Open Thread on Feminism that I've been meaning to respond to (Ms Lauren and Kate reminded me). Here it be, finally.

1. Define "feminism"
Feminism is a way of making sense of the world and its inequalities, not just those dealing with women but those of other cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and class. Honestly, I think feminist thought drives a majority of the change in the world, even if it isn't distinctly defined as feminist.

On a basic level, feminists say that women are the intellectual equals of men and deserve to be treated as such. Feminism is an effort to change the factors of our social environment that keep the woman down, so to speak.

2. Was you mother a feminist?
I don't think she would use the term (a long time listener of Rush "Feminazis Want to Eat My Brain and Have Satanic Rites" Limbaugh) but I know she subscribes to the basic tenets of feminism: women are equals, women should not shoulder the burden of housework, etc. I was raised to be very independent and street smart; it wasn't until I hit puberty that she set in with the standard notions of gender roles (copies of The Rules, invocation of Dr Laura style chastisement) which I fought hard against.

3. Are you a feminist?
Yes. I give you all collective permission to stare at my chest.

4. When did you come to that conclusion (#3) and what factors entered into your decision?
A confession I have to make: Years of secondhand listening to Rush in high school (I hated him, but my impressionable mind still picked up some of his verbal diarrhea) and witnessing my father's own feminist-bashing caused me to be one of those "I'm not a feminist, but..." girls. Tenacious and competitive, I knew I was just as good as the boys and I hated gender injustice. In swimming, band (how can you be a girl trombonist and not be a feminist, even a closet one?), and academics, I overacheived. I was raised to be that way, of course, but I often took it as a personal cause to prove my gender's capabilities.
Only in college, after maybe two days of Women's Studies 102, did I actually apply the term to myself.

5. What are the top five women's issues that require immediate attention?
AIDS and family planning in third world countries (ditch the Global Gag rule and reinstate US aid to UNFPA); rescinding of laws that restrict abortion in the US; proper sex education and the elimination of the sexual double standard; regulation of global trade and companies with sweatshops- most of those workers are women and children; insuring that, whatever the hell we are doing in Iraq, we make it a safe place for women to walk the streets again.