I’ve been thinking about feminism a lot lately, in part because of just finishing the book Bad Feminist but also because of something I heard Tracy Clayton say on an episode of Buzzfeed’s podcast Another Round:
I think capital F Feminism like people sitting around and thinking about being a feminist and waxing poetic about what it means. I really think that’s something reserved largely for “higher class” women and white women because they got the time to do it. For black women like [her], it’s just living and doing what you doing to take care of your kids and your grandkids.
There’s definitely that difference because there is an academic sphere of feminism that, like many other forms of academia, is often unattainable for the public. This is that same capital F Feminism, the one mentioned above. It’s academic, theory and discussion based, inaccessible to those who are the most marginalized.
But then there’s feminism in action, the one that people live out by just surviving and demanding respect for their own existence. It’s moms making sure that their children have toys and media that look like them; it’s Destiny Watford fighting against a potential environmental disaster being built in her neighborhood; it’s gender non-conforming and non-binary people rejecting the notion of passing as one gender or another, among so many things.
And then there’s a final form of feminism – the mainstream misunderstood feminism built into a boogeyman that resembles no kind of reality. The kind seen as man hating, bra burning, not shaving, and for some reason comparable to actual Nazis with the term feminazi. It’s the episode of Bones that defends Men Rights Activists; it’s numerous celebrities having so many different misguided understandings of feminism; it’s men calling misandry because women are asking for respect and dignity.
A few months ago, I wrote about what my own feminism is:
My feminism is a challenge to the status quo – to the racist, misogynist, transphobic, heterosexist, ableist, classist system. My feminism is a constant set of actions, not just a label. It’s writing about issues, advocating, learning, speaking, calling out, listening and shutting up when necessary.
Most importantly though: my feminism is realizing that I am not free until everyone is free.
But my own feminism isn’t perfect nor do I have all the answers. There are so many right ways to be a feminist because it’s not a monolithic movement and concept. Plus, anything that comes from people is bound to be a little messy and complicated. The real thing about feminism though is that it fights for equality and justice, especially for women and marginalized people.