Ignorance is not bliss, which is elaborately displayed in the Women Against Feminism campaign. Apparently if you ever refer to yourself as a feminist then you must be a man-hating lesbian that never wants to wear a dress or heels. Another stereotype that existed when I was a young feminist — that the feminist movement only applies to white women and does not make room for women of color. Wrong and wrong.
Why a woman would expend energy to fight against feminism when there are things like the Hobby Lobby situation is beside me. It seems like a complete waste of energy. If you define feminism incorrectly — as something that seeks entitlements or teaches women to feel like victims — then you are mistaken. Assistance from Merriam Webster can help us see that it is truly defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” or “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.” How could anyone, man or woman, have an issue with that?
Even when my sister and I travelled to Mumbai, India in 2010, we listened to a women’s panel where one of the speakers talked about “the glass ceiling is in your mind.” Yes! We don’t need to approach everything with the past or limitations in mind, but there is a shared experience among women.
I attended an event yesterday in Los Angeles entitled the F Word Event — yes the “F” standing for feminist — hosted by Sarah Moshman of the Empowerment Project and Asha Dahya of GirlTalkHQ. One of the panelists, Kristina Johnson of You Can Do It Diva, said that she doesn’t start off her coaching sessions by defining herself as a feminist because it might allow people to put her inside of a box or have preconceived notions of who she was. Just like I don’t enter a room and state that I am a woman, a feminist and white. They are all descriptive of who I am, but I also don’t want to pigeon hole my persona, and besides, there is so much else behind all of those labels!
It also misses the point that men and women’s evolution and destinies are truly intertwined. As we shed our baggage, trauma, self-hatred and limiting beliefs, men must do the same. This involves both perceptions of and stereotypes they have of women, as well as beliefs that limit their own enjoyment of life.
I think women against feminism is a waste of energy. How about fighting for something that benefits women and children, or the middle east, or all of humanity? That to me, seems like a more productive use of time.
In one of the signs a young woman posts: “I don’t need feminism because when I am working in a lab, I don’t want my co-workers to know I’m a woman. I want them to know I’m a SCIENTIST.” That’s admirable, but why can’t you be both? I think it is ignorant to believe that your colleagues don’t know that you are both a woman and a scientist. I don’t go into interviews saying, “I’m a woman and a feminist, here me roar,” but I certainly make no bones about the fact that I am an amazing business person, salesperson and shockingly, yes a woman.
It’s like saying “I don’t notice color,” but I was born and raised in a country and world with a racist history, so while I may not be racist it’s only honest and enlightened for me to say that I notice if someone is African-American or Hispanic, for example. I don’t see an issue with that: There is a history to being a woman, to being Mexican, to being African-American in this country, why should we pretend that history doesn’t exist? Why should we deny gender or race or culture? There are some awesome things about all of these that we should embrace! And in order to heal and release the trauma we cannot be in denial.
Acknowledging part of who we are doesn’t mean we need to be bogged down in hatred, anger or the past — that is a choice we can make — but to pretend the past is irrelevant is nuts. Even our personal histories, traumas from childhood, can weigh us down for decades. How can we not see that history, genetics and culture from hundreds of years can still affect how we perceive one another, how we interact, how we live our lives? We can change but only if we are willing to look collectively, men and women, people of all races and cultures, at our personal and collective history — recognize what was and what is, and then decide to change the here and now.
We don’t need to waste time arguing about the definition of feminism. But we do need to fight for what we believe in. The bigger part of this is that our personal evolution and development will lead to more equality. As we pursue more of what we want in our lives and careers, as we develop the confidence to express ourselves and remain vulnerable, as we seek out our personal truth and our purpose in the world, feminism or not will cease to be the question. The true question will be, how can our personal journey save us as individuals and also provide the greatest benefit to all of humanity?