It makes me sad when people fear, sneer at, dismiss or act like they don’t need feminism anymore, particularly women. The reasons they might do this? Here are a few ideas:
- They’ve been pitched feminism as something dangerous and destructive
- They have believed stereotypes and/or had only bad experiences and have formed a view of feminism based on only people rather than some of the vision or ideas.
- They find the challenges, highlighting of injustice and the picking up on sexism tiresome, annoying and irritating – they reject the intensity and activism of contemporary feminists because they want a quiet life
- They think women are okay now, they’re safe, they’re equal and if anything men are now at risk of oppression.
The feminists that have inspired me have been some of the most gentle, thoughtful, life giving, esteem building, generous and just people I know – a lot that I know and have read are also some of the smartest and articulate. To answer the questions of what is at stake here and why feminism matters I’ll focus on two points:
The lives of women and girls around the world are at stake – the domestically abused, the sexually assaulted, the genitally mutilated, the who are refused education, those who die in childbirth, those who are paid a lot less than men and those that bear an unfair and unjust burden of childcare. Around the world, across classes and cultures, ages and space – the lives (and their quality) of women and girls are at stake.
The promise and analysis of feminism matters because it gives us a lens through which to view and critique oppression. Feminism equips all people to stand with the ‘least’ of this world – by understanding the mistreatment of non-persons both currently and retrospectively we can change their experience and our own experience of justice should and will be transformed.
Feminism by its very definition has to examine, critique, protest and challenge the legacies of classism, racism, imperialism, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, militarism, consumption and ruination of the environment that we have here in the West.
One of the prompts for today’s piece asked whether feminism was important for our children and out of respect for past and future generations. I’ll finish with trying to articulate the example I wish the little person who’s only been in the world for four years to see and hear from me as a parent; an architect of family, dignity and justice in his life…
Here’s something I wish you to know and learn from the tips of your toes to the top of your head; that every single person in the whole wide world is so very, very precious and important. Every single person is different and every single person is valuable.
All the love that you have in your life is important to share with other people – those who are far away and those who are close. In fact, I think it would be really super if you took some of that love and showed it and shared it with people who don’t feel loved or don’t know that they’re loved. Being kind and thoughtful about people, especially the ones who are lonely and scared, small, who feel different, shy, quiet or weak – they have more to teach you than you will ever know.
Outside of our family people will try and tell you who you have to be because of the body that you have – your body is so precious and who you are is such an adventure – but it’s not already known or decided – don’t listen to those people who think that it is. Be interested in what gives you peace, spend time doing things that make you content and relaxed, wear the clothes that make you comfortable and make sure everyone around you knows that who they are isn’t already known or decided either…
Love and cherish yourself and who you are, give yourself rest, space and time to be you – this will make it possible for you to see other people – especially the invisible and voiceless and where you can see and speak you will learn from and be shaped by their stature and their story.
As you grow up to love and create and become an architect of family, dignity and justice in your own relationships and space never forget that every single person in the whole world is so very precious and important and worth so very much.
My family architect role is wholly informed by feminism as a perspective (among others) that acknowledges everyone’s personhood and its emphasis on the need for full participation in life – this is what is at stake – this is why it matters – and I will do whatever I can to persuade and transform the sneerers, dismissers, minimisers and the comfortable.
Tomorrows #femfest is trying to draw together the learning and insights from this synchroblog.
If you post today link it up here: http://www.fromtwotoone.com/