The Umbrella Term

Our recent class discussions have touched on what it means to be a feminist today.  As Cynthia’s earlier post discussed, the umbrella idea of feminism is essentially a search for gender equality/justice in all aspects of life.  If you choose to assume the feminist label, there are, of course, many different ways you can define yourself.  Liberal feminists seek political equality through legislative campaigns.  Radical feminists place the root of women’s oppression in patriarchal gender relations and hope to abolish the notion of power entirely.  Queer feminism questions the gender binary and cultural notions of female behavior.  [1]   I mean, the list goes on and on, and there’s essentially a different label for any type of feminism you could choose (if you need the label at all).

What these definitions show and what I (very poorly) tried to express in class last week was that no blanket stereotype can adequately encompass the constantly changing span of ideas and opinions of feminism today, or really ever.  Beyond its basic idea, I personally take feminism to mean doing what is best for myself, regardless of societal norms, in a politically conscious way.  If I enjoy or like something and it doesn’t compromise my values or objectify me, then I should go for it!  While I do like the label feminist, I don’t think it really matters what “kind” you are.  It’s such a fluid idea, you can appropriate the term to mean what you want it to mean.

Some great websites and blogs exist that focus on discussing feminism today.  My favorite has to be Bitch, which analyzes pop culture through a feminist lens.  Recent posts include a discussion of Tina Fey and her portrayal of women, hipsters and cultural appropriation, and fembots in advertising.  These posts really highlight how sexism, racism, and elitism are still alive and prospering because they’re focused on topics that we do interact with now.

[1] “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Feminism But Were Afraid to Ask.”  Bitch Magazine.  Accessed April 25, 2010.

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