Friday, August 18, 2006

Feminism defined

A bit misleading, since I'm not gonna attempt my own. But I thought it might be interesting at this juncture to introduce some others' thoughts on the subject.


"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."
-Rebecca West, British writer, speaking in 1913

Feminism is a belief that although women and men are inherently of equal worth, most societies privilege men as a group. As a result, social movements are necessary to achieve political equality between women and men, with the understanding that gender always intersects with other social hierarchies.
--Estelle Freedman

"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."
- Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine, leader of the Women's Movement.

Feminism has as its goal to give every woman "the opportunity of becoming the best that her natural faculties make her capable of."
--Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1878

A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.
-Michelle Le Doeuff

"Along with many contemporary feminists, I reject the reductionist concept of Patriarchy... not because it is too radical and confronting...but because it is not radical enough and does not confront its own silencing or marginalized women who do not always suffer primarily from or personally prioritize gender oppression.
-Val Plumwood, "Does Ecofeminism Need the Master Subject?"

"...Thus, when feminism was the preserve of a tiny band of the committed few, who suffered gladly the contempt of the world, the intense solidarity of sisterhood was relatively easy to maintain. But as the movement broadened its appeal and drew in not only the daughters of the men of 1789, but some of the daughters of the servants of the men of 1789 and even the daughters of the slaves, sharp differences of opinion and allegiance began to make themselves felt. Could it be that the feminist 'revolution' shared a family likeness with its grandparent, the bourgeois revolution?

...All these reflections led me to some disturbing questions. For if feminism could no longer be seen to be the obvious and reasonable interpretaion of womens' experience...then what is it founded on? It began to seem that the term 'faith' to describe these convictions was a more appropriate metaphor than we had realized. For whatever its undoubted foundation in an experiential reality of female life, it was becoming clear there must be something else at work in the process that results in some women becoming feminists while others do not."

--Angela West, "Deadly Innocence: Feminism and the Mythology of Sin"

Living life as an African American woman is a necessary prerequisite for producing black feminist thought, because within black women’s communities thought is validated and produced with reference to a particular set of historical, material, and epistemological conditions.
--Patricia Hill Collins

One of the greatest gifts of Black feminism to ourselves has been to make it a little easier simply to be Black and female.
--Barbara Smith

Womanist is to Feminist as purple is to lavender
--Alice Walker

"Feminism is a struggle to end sexist oppression. Therefore, it is necessarily a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates
Western culture on various levels."
- bell hooks, "Ain't I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism"

"A feminist is a person who answers "yes" to the question, "Are women human?" Feminism is not about whether women are better than, worse than or identical with men. And it's certainly not about trading personal liberty--abortion, divorce, sexual self-expression--for social protection...It's about justice, fairness, and access to the broad range of human experience. It's about women consulting their own well-being and being judged as individuals rather than as members of a class
with one personality, one social function, one road to happiness. It's about women having intrinsic value as persons rather than contingent value as a means to an end for others... "
--Katha Pollitt.

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings"
-Cheris Kramerae, author of A Feminist Dictionary, 1996.

Feminism directly confronts the idea that one person or set of people [has] the right to impose definitions of reality on others. ~Liz Stanley and Sue Wise

"It's important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It's the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It's the way we talk about and treat one another. It's who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It's a state of mind. It's the way we live now.”

--Anna Quindlen

To tell a woman everything she may not do is to tell her what she can do. ~Spanish Proverb

Women are not inherently passive or peaceful. We're not inherently anything but human. ~Robin Morgan

Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths. ~Lois Wyse

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ~Roseanne Barr

"Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word." ~Elizabeth Bibesco

"Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women's opportunities, not to limit them."
--Elaine Heffner

My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restriction of externally imposed definition."
--Audre Lorde

"There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "Poor dear, it's probably PMS."' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "What an asshole." Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole." --Molly Ivins


KH said...

Have we forgetten someone? Initials Y. L.?

belledame222 said...

Not in the slightest...

Jean said...

That Ivins quote is fucking priceless.

Dan L-K said...

Second on the Molly Ivins. I heart her.

For me (and I'm a feminist, godsdammit, not a pro-feminist or a feminist cheerleader or whateverthefuck), feminism means claiming nothing for myself that I won't share with a mother, a sister, an aunt, a daughter. That seems pretty straightforward to me.

piny said...

Yeah, Ivins' feminism seems to be part and parcel of the saving-women-as-the-people-they-are feminism, aka, "My Mom is Fucking KickAss!" feminism. I heart her too.

Spill The Beans said...

To me, being feminist was always about choice. It was about having the same choices that men do, and allowing them to have accesses to choices that have historically only been open to women.

So, it was about me deciding to work in a predominantly male field, and being paid the same as the men in my field, and being treated THE SAME as they were, and being allowed to take the same risks they did, and having the opportunity to earn the same respect they could.

And for my daughter, it was about her being able to choose whatever life she likes, whether that is being a cop or an astronaut or a stay at home mom, or for her husband to be a stay at home dad while she earns the bread, or for her to be essentially childless with no repercussions or social slurs if that is her choice.

And if she were to become a mother, to have that woman's work (I <3 Kate Bush, i'm an 80s girl, sue me) be just as valuable and appreciated as anything she did for a paycheck.

It wasn't about LIMITING her choices, or mine, or anyone else's, but about expanding them. Including the choices of men.

It was never about *special* treatment for men OR women, but about equal treatment for both.

Spill The Beans said...

Although, I suspect my daughter (who currently wants to be a veterinarian) will be a working mom, and she'll do exceedingly well at both of those things.

Dan L-K said...

It wasn't about LIMITING her choices, or mine, or anyone else's, but about expanding them. Including the choices of men.

Hear, hear.

I think I've quoted her here before, but my wife's reaction to the more puritan strains of feminism is "That sounds like one more person trying to tell me something I'm not supposed to be." Fuck that noise.

belledame222 said...

Sort of playing devil's advocate wrt "choice," the "Deadly Innocence" book has some really interesting stuff to say about feminism's roots in Enlightenment values, and the limitations thereof.

Even taking her critiques into account, though, still have a real hard time accounting for how we get to the narrowed view of sexuality and so forth that we've been seeing lately.

THe Molly Ivins quote I really wanted but don't have access to at the moment went something like,

The only coherent statement about fashion that I remember from all my feminist days was the notion that on the whole, June Cleaver would've been happier had she not insisted on vacuuming in high heels. This, I still believe.

Renegade Evolution said...

great quotes, BD.

Alon Levy said...

Pardon my ignorance, but who's Y.L.?

I don't like defining feminism, because when I say "Men and women should be equal" I sound like I'm saying that 2 + 2 = 4.

belledame222 said...

refers to a radical feminist who recently posted her own thoughts on this subject. discussed somewhere further down here. she's not been the only one.

prosphoros said...

I love the Ivins quote, too, and the Lorde should be etched on my eyelids, so I can't possibly forget.