At the beginning of last year when I heard the term “feminist” I only knew of the pigeonhole the movement had been forced into: bra-burners and men-haters. Through media, jokes, criticism, and misunderstandings, feminism has been construed into a patriarchy-smashing monster. I later discovered the full breadth of feminism, beyond the stereotypes. When people tell me that feminism is simply about sexism, I eagerly engage in conversation. I want to share that feminism encompasses so much more than gender inequality— it is about everyone’s equality.
According to Kwok Pui-Lan, women make up half of all oppressed groups. Thus, the battle for gender equality is inseparable from issues of race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and all other facets of human identity that lead to oppression. I also believe that coming to this understanding can lead to greater change in society. It is from all these aspects of human identity that people can find a commonality to build upon.
As the womanist theologian M. Shawn Copeland stated, “not difference, but indifference, ignorance, egoism, and selfishness are obstacles to solidarity”. The only way to overcome these obstacles is to engage in dialogue. This is my hope for my articles in Fempowerment—sparking conversation and causing people to think twice about established institutions and social systems. However, these conversations have to be had with the right people. It is of the utmost importance that dialogue is initiated between oppressors and the oppressed. And not just between men and women, but between white women and women of color.
Feminism is about analyzing in depth everything in society that we perceive as natural or normal. For these normalizations are our oppressions. So yes, I call myself a person who believes in full equality, who dreams of oppression’s absence, and who wants all individuals to flourish—I am a feminist.