When I Participate in FemFest: Day One

Over the course of these next three days, I will be linking up with three other bloggers as I participate in the synchroblog they’re calling Feminisms Fest. Some context:

“I’ve seen people talking about feminism a lot lately; many of the blog posts, comments and tweets either say how difficult and complicated the term ‘feminism’ is or have wildly different working definitions of the word. I want to spend some time unpacking the term and writing our own stories. When one person says ‘feminism is bad’ because of her life experience and I say ‘feminism is good’ because of mine, it helps us have a real discussion if we know each other’s hearts and stories. That’s our starting place for this synchroblog.” –J. R. Goudeau

You can also read more of the backstory behind this three-day synchroblog by clicking here.

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The questions used to prompt Day One FemFest posts are as follows: “What is your experience with feminism? What’s a story or a memory or a person that you associate with that word? Why does it have negative or positive connotations for you? How do you define the term, either academically or personally? What writers have you read whose definitions you want to bring out? Or, if you don’t have a definition, what are some big questions you have?”

As I discussed earlier this month, I am a firm believer in human beings living as human beings, as their truest selves – not as beings produced from the molds of stereotypical femininity and masculinity. (Meaning that men who are primarily gentle and quiet must not be stifled by any assumption that these characteristics are less than manly and that women who are primarily brave and unreserved must not be stifled by any assumption that these characteristics are less than womanly.) Because of this and because of my natural inclination toward cynicism, I tend to freeze up when I hear men being told to be strong for their women and women being told that they need strong men to shelter them; when I hear men being encouraged to lead and women being encouraged to sit down quietly; when I hear men being bullied by other men to “be more manly” and women being talked down to as if we are all broken and in need of the salvation that a strong male presence will “surely” bring; when I hear men being addressed as if they are solely sexual beings and women being addressed as if their sole struggle is objectification; and on and on it goes.

I used to assume that feminism refers to the attempt to replace men in powerful positions with women, a kind of subjugation of men. For many people still, I think that feminism tends to carry a negative connotation because of the assumption that feminists are bra-burning women who are too loud, too boisterous, and too troublesome, who believe that the higher women can get up the totem pole of power, the better. But, over and over again, I have seen feminists prove themselves to align with a very different platform. I have seen that feminism means 1) a celebration of women as who they are (human beings and individuals) and 2) an advocation for the equality of men and women in every aspect of life. Ultimately, this is based on the belief that women and men are more than culturally-assigned gender roles; they are human beings. (This is not to say that there are zero differences between men and women, but it is to say that, above all, women should be viewed primarily as humans, not as women and, therefore, lesser and all-around weaker and that men should be viewed primarily as humans, not as men and, therefore, greater and all-around stronger.)

We need feminism so that women are no longer told what kind of men to be attracted to (you know, the burly and strong, the “manly”); so that women are no longer told that they are “beautiful expressions of God,” whereas men are called “strong men” (I want to be more than an expression! Call me human, and call me a human made in the image of God if you must!); so that women and men are no longer in some kind of tug-of-war over whose name goes first on the wedding invitations, and whether or not to eliminate the woman’s name from the return address labels, and whether or not the man should participate in household chores; so that we stop assuming that the sole desire of a woman’s heart is to be beautiful; so that human beings begin to be viewed as that, human beings, and also as individuals who vary more than the cultural preferences at large – and that is okay.

If this is feminism’s cause, then I am more than willing to join.


What do you think? What have your experiences been with feminism? Feel free to respond to the questions listed above that prompted my own post.

(For more reading about this topic, be sure to click here for the University of British Columbia’s concise and positive definition of feminism and here for the Day One FemsFest link-up posts.)

 

February 23 Joy Dare: A Gift of Tin, Glass, Wood
To be quite honest, I don’t know what I encountered on retreat that would fit these three categories. So, instead, some general Saturday gifts:
1. Such a good lunch with my small group
2. Solid affirmation
3. A sense of anointing from the LORD

February 24 Joy Dare: 3 Gifts Before 11 AM
1. Waking up from restful sleep
2. Maple oatmeal (Really, I think that I hadn’t eaten oatmeal in something like six months!)
3. Communion

February 25 Joy Dare: A Gift Worn Out, New, Made-Do
Again, I’m unsure as to what these categorized gifts would be. So, some general Monday gifts:
1. Being able to check almost everything off my to-do list
2. Feedback
3. Ice-rain that made walking around campus quite fun

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