Friday, October 17, 2008

How we define feminism (by Suzie)

        In 2000, I interviewed young women in my women’s studies classes for an article on third-wave feminism. One question was: “For you, what does feminism mean?” Here are two representative replies: 
“It is the study of, practice of, and consciousness of inequalities in society/history. This applies to race, gender, age, class, disability, sexual orientation, etc. I believe that each person should be able to live without oppression of any kind.”
“It means fighting ALL oppressions for ALL minorities in the white male heterosexist society in which we live.”
         I hope all feminists oppose oppression. But I'd prefer that feminism focus on gender because not everyone fighting oppression will "remember the ladies." Focusing on gender does not mean ignoring the ways that it intersects with other factors. For example, when I work on behalf of sarcoma patients, I don't consider that feminism, even though half of them are women. But I do consider my work feminist when I look at ways that women with sarcoma may get short-changed in the health-care system.
         (Echidne has written on this topic, including this post.)