photo © 2006 Quinn Dombrowski | more info (via: Wylio)
No one definition embraces its full scope. No one woman embodies its full vision. No set of words capture it—no matter how raw, graceful, or elegant. It does not exist in unified form; yet, it serves to unify the silenced, the abused, the First World, the Third World, the lesbian, the housewife, the academic, the high school drop out, the faith-filled, the agnostic. Underneath its wings, women grow stronger, more self-aware. They find voices to speak back to power and hegemonic authority. They find the strength to push against the wall of patriarchy and its abuses. Couched in all of its ideological weight rests Feminism. Loved and shunned. Embraced and rejected—Feminism.
Refusing to be hemmed into a succinct definition, feminism’s history is a piece quilt of the women who embrace it and who shun it. We feminists revel in the glory of suffrage. Our fledging step onto the stage of the public sphere. We take pride in those women who broke through the gender role barrier during the 1960’s. Those women who sought for gender equality give us hope. We celebrate the women who forced academia to consider gender differences in learning, to rewrite the literary canon so women writers could take a seat, to allow more women to showcase their intellectual triumphs. Yes, all of these are wonderful depictions of feminism, but they don’t fully show feminism’s deep influence upon me.
My definition of feminism cannot be grounded solely in academic language or rallying cries for women’s rights. How can I ever define a movement that embraces women and repulses women at the same time? How do I begin to write about my innermost womanhood that is so intertwined with feminism, but has not completely manifested itself even to me? My lived definition comes from my culled knowledge of feminist theory, rhetoric, and daily choices. The beauty of feminism is the beauty of mutual contradictions. Your definition may contradict mine, but we can embrace our common ground underneath this shared banner of feminism.
I choose to define my feminism is this manifesto:
My feminism embraces the whole experience of being a woman. Not limited to gender roles, but neither excluding those women who choose to stay within society’s prescribed mandates. A woman has the right to choose her path without fear of scorn for her choice.
My feminism embraces the grand meta-narrative of humanity. Both female and male voices speaking together without clamoring over one another. A beautiful dialogue of harmony, peace, and love.
My feminism embraces the mystery of faith. A faith grounded in love. A faith rooted in the ideology that we speak up for the poor, the widow, the orphan.
My feminism embraces ethical living. My lifestyle should never inflict suffering on others within my immediate community, my home nation, or the world.
Question: What would be on your feminist manifesto? If you disagree with feminism, what reasons do you have?