Tuesday, 27 July 2010

What Is Feminism?

I've had quite a few visits to this blog lately from people typing “what is feminism” or “how can I become a feminist” into Google.  There aren’t any real answers to those questions except to suggest that it is a choice.  At a certain point in your life you have to decide that racism is not okay.  Homophobia is not okay.  Discrimination and stereotyping based on a person’s race, gender, religion, nationality, sexuality or creed is not okay.  Exploitation of vulnerable people is not okay.  Forcing people into slavery or prostitution is not okay.  When you begin to think about the issues that matter, you come to realise that providing different opportunities and rewards to men and women is not okay.  Two thirds of the 776 million illiterate adults in the world are women.  One in two women living in South Africa will be raped in her lifetime.  Men are paid more than women for the same jobs worldwide.  It is about asking questions and not being satisfied until you know that women are not being exploited, that they have the same rights as men and that they should be given the same opportunities.  The video below is very useful in explaining what feminism is but also in pointing out that feminism will mean different things to different people.

“Feminism is about asking questions and taking a moment and thinking ‘well, why? Why does our society work like this? Why are women treated in this way? Why are women expected to look like this? Why are women expected to act like this? It’s al about questioning the role of women and understanding the role of women”

If you are thinking of becoming a feminist (or any other kind of activist) then I would suggest buying a notebook or starting a blog and jotting down what you believe.  Write down what you think about issues like rape, human trafficking, gender inequality, education, literacy, equal opportunities, abortion or marriage and then seek out people who think the same things as you.  You don’t have to hold the most radical idea to be an activist but part of the process is developing the backbone to tell people when their words or actions are not okay.  That is why it is important to have friends who think like you do, whether you can find them in your neighbourhood or online.



  1. This takes me back. I used to be a university professor who enjoyed teaching gender studies and literature. You can imagine how terribly interesting that was and I sorely miss it. These days my job is about fighting for the rights of Black and Minority Ethnic people, creating a level playing field for people who come from minority groups, especially women.

    Inasmuch as it's important to find people who think like me, I believe that I also need to be challenged by people who don't. This is the only way I know I can keep learning and evolving.

    Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come visit again tomorrow!

  2. @ Joy: I certainly agree with you that we need to find people who disgagree with us and who challenge us. I know how lonely and confusing it can be though when you start to think differently and you think for a while that you are the only one.

    Joy - you sound like you do amazing work! I knew you were a life coach but I did not know you worked with minorities. If you would ever like to do a guest post or interview, please let me know.


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