Meaning is important to me.
I have been educated as a linguist and even before said education (and perhaps as the motivator of such!) I have been fascinated with words. Yes, I was one of those nerdy kids who read (?reads) dictionaries and copied pages into my private notebooks. I keep lists of words whose sounds I love, and index cards of words I want to recall; and I will swap and re-swap a relatively high percentage of words in this post before publishing - so that each one will convey my exact meaning just so…
And so, I set out on my determined quest to discover and share and act-out feminism, I find myself pondering exactly what that means.
I couldn’t have given a firm definition of feminism as a girl, or as an adolescent, or as a young(er) woman in my twenties. I was often confused by the many varied uses - and reactions to the usage - of the word, and I don’t think that I was alone. Indeed, I may have heard ‘feminist’ being colored with disdain more frequently than with dignity.
I was 3-0 before I was actually paid to advocate for women and before I realized the importance of claiming titles such as ‘women’s rights activist’ and ‘feminist’. And so, for clarity, I began looking to other women who had allied themselves with feminism…
In 1913 Rachel West said, “I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.”
Rachel’s thought was echoed by Chris Kramarae, historian and activist, when she stated, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
More recently, Jessica Valenti, author and founder of feministing.com has subscribed to the dictionary definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”, but has also written, “Feminism is … an ideology based on the notion that patriarchy exists and that it needs to end.”
And the amazing bell hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexual exploitation and oppression.”
From these and many other women I have learned little pieces of what it means to be a feminist, to believe and practice feminism. I am still learning and I will continue to seek out those who can teach me and grow and act with me. In the meantime, I am going to begin my understanding here:
Fem-i-nism: /ˈfemənɪz(ə)m/ noun – a creative opportunity for transformative change in thought and action, leading to an end of all forms of oppression and domination and the beginning of collaborative, dignified safety, freedom and equity for all
learning, laughing, discovering... extended attention!! linguistics, gender socialization, gender/domestic violence, sexual violence
The realization of transformative change in thought and action, leading to an end of all forms of oppression and domination and the beginning of collaborative, dignified safety, freedom and equity for all