Yes, I Am A Feminist

March 8, 2013 at 8:15 am (Rants) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I trudged to work Monday morning through four inches of newly fallen, hard packed snow I yearned (once again) for someone to take care of me, to say “no dear, you stay in that warm bed, I’ll trudge out to earn a living and keep you in books and raspberries.”

Butterfly Mask Ladybug

Today, Friday March 8th, is International Women’s Day.

I’ve always called myself a feminist? Even though it sometimes seems that Feminism is a bad word, whether we like it or not. Feminists are constantly portrayed as being hysterical, trivial, man-hating, and just generally insane. I regularly get accused of being a radical feminist (me, me radical – you’d have to know me to know how absolutely insane that statement is. I don’t march. I don’t elucidate excessively. I spend 90% of my time reading, working in a library, and/or hiding my opinions. And then I write. I write it all down. I bear witness. I read. I force books (by women, about women) on my friends and relatives. Maybe, I am radical after all. I am a quiet determined radical feminist!).

What is feminism?

A feminist is an equal, strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anybody to validate herself.

Feminism is Wonder Woman posing heroically on the very first issue and the current 40th anniversary issue of Ms magazine. Even though I’m conflicted over calling Wonder Woman a feminist. She seems too often to be working more for the benefit of a man-made military system. I want her to have more agency; I want her to observe and defeat crime all by herself.

There is all the ruckus in the media of late about what a feminist actually is, whether we’re allowed to wear heels and stockings, whether we’re allowed to be funny, whether we should do nothing but march and protest, our armpit hair blowing in the breeze. Am I a feminist or a real women? Can I not be both feminist and sexy, feminist and nurturing, or feminist and business orientated?

What if I’m not a real feminist? What if I’m not a real woman? (OMG, I am a fake woman).

As a feminist elder, a de facto member of the Grand High Feminist Council do I turn around and sneer at other women’s bald legs and made up faces? Thank the stars that feminism has solved all the big issues like sexual harassment, victim blaming and the glass ceiling. Now we’re free to alienate one another by proclaiming ourselves to be feminist-ier than thou.

My Girls

There’s no such thing as a “real” feminist. Even us older (ancient) feminists may not have a vast working knowledge of classical feminist theory; some of us have taken classes and attended lectures while many others have gained their knowledge through life experiences.  My sisters (all five of them) have more life experience than me while I’ve concentrated on the book learning. My eldest sister wants to read the literature but has had little time to do so while raising her children and grand-children. My youngest sister knows more about life then I ever will. My mother, grandmothers, great-grandmothers were feminists because of their life experiences.

Egg Money

I am a spinster. I have too much time to think and ruminate.

He travels fastest who travels alone, and that goes double for she. Real feminism is spinsterhood.

Florence King, “Spinsterhood Is Powerful,” Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye

None of my ancestors marched. None were suffragettes. They named themselves women not feminists. But the word meant the same. It meant I have a voice. It meant I count. It meant I have a role. It meant I am equal.

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

To Be Of Use by Marge Piercy

How many waves of feminism have there been? What right do I have to call myself an elder? The theories keep flowing, like waves upon the beach. 1st wave…2nd wave…3rd wave. The women keep marching.

I march beside Mary Shelley and her mother and worry over how much of the manifesto Vindication on the rights of women still holds true.

I march beside Susan B. still declaring:

“We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.”
—Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876

I agree with Betty that men should not be the enemy (the system should be). It worries me that (maybe) we can’t be strong together. It seems that as women get stronger/more independent, men get less capable.

Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.  ~Betty Friedan

I stand in solidarity with Rebecca.

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.

Rebecca West, “Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice,” The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

I stand with these five women from Alberta declaring we are persons also! They are why Canada celebrates Women’s History Month in October rather than March.

Flower Writing

I march beside and stand with the women of the future and the past. (1902 Postcard link).

Yes, I am a feminist.

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9 Comments

  1. Inside the Mind of Isadora said,

    Thoughtful and insighful … enjoyed the entry for the challenge.
    Isadora
    http://isadoraartandphotography.com/2013/03/09/travel-theme-international-womens-day/

  2. Stubblejumpin Gal said,

    “Real” men are also feminists. (Just sayin’)

    We’ve a long way to go before we live in a world of equality for both sexes. My fingers are crossed that we don’t slide backward. Women of all ages are still putting Pleasing Men before pleasing themselves, and valuing themselves by the judgments of men. Considering the day and age we live in, one might think we are more enlightened than that … but apparently we are not.

    • solitaryspinster said,

      I know, it seems some days we’re just all going backwards instead of forward.

  3. thefirstdark said,

    Reblogged this on The Darkness in the Light.

    • solitaryspinster said,

      Thank you.

  4. Autumn said,

    As a woman, I have had to take a long, hard look at feminism and frankly I don’t even understand what it is. I’m confused on words like “equal” – I am NOT equal with a man, I am biologically different inside and out. (i.e.- still isn’t enough science for health professionals to diagnose heart attack in women even aspirin effects us differently), Women do not possess the upper body strength needed to do many high paying jobs such as construction work. Men don’t possess the lower body strength of a woman. I don’t think like a man, nor do I want to. I am not independent financially, but do make equal pay with most men working in an office. I do not feel slighted if a married man makes more than I do, as he has to support a family and I do not. I have been a pagan since 2000 but personally feel that balance is the key – male and female deity.

    I know women contribute to society is big ways, but feel that using words like equality is confusing to me. It isn’t apples to apples, its apples to oranges – instead of equality, I feel that there are partnerships. Men can do things I can’t, I can do things men can’t. But its a lie to say we are equal, we are most definitely NOT created the same. I do worry about those who feel drawn to getting a sex change without understanding the long term health risks, (i.e. being a woman but diagnosed like a man), when there isn’t enough public information on women’s health. Most health is male and based upon the weird assumption that both sexes are identical. When I was a kid, I was labeled a “tom boy”, but as a woman the assumption is that I am lesbian and not a tom boy by both men and women. With that said, I have no sexual desire to be with a woman and I have had many male lovers. I often enjoy competing with men when I weight lift (lower body only) as I’ve lifted as much as 550# on the leg press machine.

    I don’t want to be treated like a child, but I no longer agree with the words equal and independent. Most women, with the exception of the illiterate, do not need a man. One more fact…men live longer when they are married, yet marriage neither lengthens nor shortens the life of women. I hope to resolve this inner conflict one day and find new ways to define words like feminism, because the current paradigm is clearly out of date.

    • solitaryspinster said,

      Thank you for your comment; you’ve given me a new perspective and lots to think about.

  5. Stubblejumpin Gal said,

    The current definition of the word feminism makes perfect sense to me, much as people seem to have some weird ideas about the word, as if it means taking something away from men in order to give it to women, or as if it means hating men, children, families; putting boys down. It means none of these things. All you have to do is look in a good dictionary to find that it means equality under the law, socially, economically, etc. It’s all about basic human rights: one sex is not more entitled to human rights than the other. Or shouldn’t be, though we know that in many countries that is the sad reality, still.

    Equality isn’t about being the same, as quite clearly men and women are not; it’s about both genders having the same rights, status, and opportunities legally and culturally.

    Note: for generations there have been women alone supporting families with children (men don’t always financially help support their children, spouses part ways due to abuse or for whatever reasons, etc), but that doesn’t mean women have ever gotten paid more than a single man who was doing the exact same job. I wouldn’t care if a man had mouths beside his own to feed, and I didn’t. My hour spent working is as valuable as his is, period. What I choose to do with the money I earn is my business, as his earnings are his.

  6. Equal =/= Same | Solitary Spinster said,

    […] is a small debate going on over in the comments to my recent post on feminism. This post is a clarification of my original manifesto. After reading the comments it became clear […]

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