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Feminism

April 6, 2010
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I asked students in one of my classes today if they thought of themselves as feminists.

Their initial response was that before my class they thought of feminists as militant women who wanted to establish a matriarchy  (i.e., the mirror of patriarchy). I started to explain to them that (almost) no feminists actually want that, but I think they had already figured that out.

In any case, they told me that their way of thinking was becoming more “feminist,” despite their own resistance to the idea. They gave me the impression that “feminist” thinking was starting to infect their view of the world.

My class is a breeding ground for feminism! Hell yeah!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Beelzebub permalink
    April 7, 2010 1:20 am

    I think feminism has become somewhat of a meaningless term these days. Or, at the very least, that a society with gender equality is not necessarily any better than one without it as long as other, more insidious forms of domination still occur, which is something I think a lot of “feminism” (pop-feminism, at least) leaves out.

  2. April 7, 2010 1:36 am

    Beelz: Do you know anything about feminism?

    MfM: I inevitably have one female student a semester who says, “I’m not a feminist”. Totally irks me. So, then I usually spend a whole class laying these things out for the students. Before I start the class I get them to raise their hands if they are feminists. A handful do so. After the class, I ask again. Generally, the whole class puts their hands up.

  3. Beelzebub permalink
    April 7, 2010 2:05 am

    I know what I would guess to be a little about feminism. I didn’t have a chance to take any classes on it while I was in college before I ended up dropping out and so most of what I know comes from perusing Wikipedia and such. If you could recommend a book, that would be great, though my (possibly mistaken) understanding is that feminism has what some might call a rather large tent, making it difficult to find a single work that gives a good overview of what feminism stands for. And of course, when I do read, I tend to read fiction far more often than non-fiction (I’ve been stopping and starting on that Marx fellow’s “Capital, Vol. 1” since January — I’m just now getting into “Part 3: The Production of Absolute Surplus Value”!): of my books, very few are non-fiction — there’s “Five Dialogues” (of Plato), “Meditations on First Philosophy” (Descartes), “Reconstruction in Philosophy” (Dewey), and along with Marx, some Hegel that I picked up in a used bookstore in these cheezy “Great Books of the Western World” editions. God knows if I’ll ever get through that academic stuff that fascinates me so and then gradually bores me again.

    But I digressed. I believe in gender equality, racial equality, and so on, but I think class should come first. Or something like that. It’s 2:04 AM and I’m not so sophisticated of a thinker, at least not at this time of morning.

  4. fuzzytheory permalink
    April 7, 2010 3:14 am

    Beelz: Thanks for the context. Some friends of mine have a joke: ‘In the Oppression Olympics, class always wins.’ Most good feminism these days attempts to deal with the intersectionality of gender with class, race, sexuality, dis/ability, and the situated context-dependent realities of the lived experiences of people from various backgrounds in order to fight injustice. It’s a kind of expanded version of the fights from the 60s and 70s where women of color felt alienated from feminism because they didn’t see their lived experiences reflected in a predominantly white, middle-class, western feminism. Since then, quite a lot of good work has been done to attempt to reflect how gender is experienced differently by people dependent on their context. As for references, there is good stuff on the web. There are some good blogs out there, like feministing.com and feministe.com, and one can then click through to other blogs that reflect this diversity of insight into the way gender in intersection shapes our lives. Anyway, one good resource is the feminism 101 blog. In it is a FAQ of all sorts of things, some of which might catch your fancy: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/the-faqs/faq-roundup/
    Good luck!

    Oh, and apropos to your first comment, a few years ago there was a very wide discussion in the ‘blogosphere’ of the very point you make. It was somewhat resolved, though it pops up again every once in a while. Basically, the conclusion was that that line of questioning led to a slippery slope of: my cause is more important than yours! You know, Oppression Olympics. The resolution was the realization that 1) this is a further reflection of ‘divide and conquer’ by the structural nature of domination, and 2) the remedy is that we are all in this together and we should be banding together and making alliances instead of fighting over the scraps of ‘The Man’. I dunno, YMMV.

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    April 7, 2010 9:11 am

    In a sense, the oppression olympics are always won by the dominant group, since the olypmics divides everyone else …

  6. April 19, 2010 2:05 pm

    I am a major in Women Studies. This just reminded me of an article I had just finished reading. Feminism has become regarded as something to be feared, something that only applies to obnoxious, hairy, lesbian women who hate men. Feminists are labelled family-haters and baby-killers; only certain feminist goals are focused on. However, then there is the movement of girl power. Women and young girls walk around in too small and too tight shirts that have a super women slogan on it and feel that by doing this they are imbracing this sense. Realistically, girl power is just societys and the medias way of packaging female empowering ideas in a way that is safe and profitable. All female youth need to get their heads around the idea that wearing a tight tank top with the words girl power across it or listening to the Spice Girls is not a form of girl power at all: ts just another ploy in societys evil scheme to silence us once and for awhile. Yay for the breeding grounds of true feminists!

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