Monday, April 20, 2009

What is a Feminist?

Friday I attended the kick off of Marquette's new Women and Gender Studies program. It was very insightful and intelligent. I like the look of the program.

I went to two talks: one focusing on concepts of gender in the Health sciences. One of the speakers there spoke of the struggles of veterans within the framework of the paradigm of conventional masculinity - a reminder that "gender studies" includes men too!

What particularly stood out to me, however, was a session called something like "Do you call yourself a feminist? What's in a label."

The Interesting points of the conversation centered on why the label "feminist" has such negative connotations and whether we should reject the label and simply embrace the views and positions.

I said there, and I repeat here, that we cannot drop labels merely because some groups heap negative connotations on them. If we allow "feminism" to be a dirty word, then once we champion feminist ideas we are inviting ourselves to be dismissed as "those rotten feminists" and considered "beyond the pale" of appropriate social discourse.

Also mentioned were basic mis-perceptions of what feminism is about, and some suggestions about what it might really be about. In that vein, I stumbled upon the following videos ... which are much in the same spirit:

First the misperceptions and ignorace:

Now an accurate view of feminism:

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  1. I am so glad to hear the session was meaningful. I think about this subject so often that I'm not even sure what I'm thinking anymore.
    I personally own the term feminist - for all the times it scares people away, it also begs for dialogues I'm not sure would exist otherwise.
    I'll be sure to come back to all of this later when I'm not so tired. :)

    Love the blog, Matt!

  2. I hope you got to check out the two videos I put up there. The first one interviews men on what they think Feminism is and it's frightning! Shows you that we still VERY much need feminism.

    As a male I've long thought it especially important that I declare myself a feminist, label myself such. It's important to get both women and men on board! The Second video I think makes it very clear when one of the speaker says that "feminism is humanism."


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