For Stacy London, What Feminism Means Developed With Age


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“Feminism” and “womanhood” imply various things to totally different people. With The F-Phrase, our essay collection working all through Ladies’s Historical past Month, we’re highlighting totally different views—the nice, the unhealthy, and the sophisticated—of what these ideas imply to folks.

I’ve been gazing this rattling laptop display for hours. I agreed to write down this essay about what feminism means to me, given my private expertise and perspective, due to course—why wouldn’t I? Now, upon reflection, I’m having hassle—which is alarming to me, as somebody who has recognized as a lifelong feminist.

I attempted writing about what being menopausal and getting older seems like in a tradition that makes me really feel irrelevant for being menopausal and getting older. I attempted writing concerning the historical past of girls’s rights. I attempted writing an homage to Florence Henderson and Mary Tyler Moore. I attempted to recollect all of the issues I used to say when bragging about my mother as a child within the ‘70s: that she was a genius, that she was a badass, that she was a feminist.

However within the means of drafting this very piece, I’ve come to understand that I can not pinpoint what the idea of feminism imply to me—good, unhealthy or in any other case.

How can that be? I’ve all the time thought of myself to be an advocate for individuals who determine as girls; for social, financial, political, and authorized rights which are equal to these of people that determine as males. And on condition that’s the vaguely normal definition of a feminist, I’m stunned that it leaves me feeling chilly quite than energized and proud, the best way it did once I was a child bragging about her trailblazing mother. So why does it depart me chilly? Why aren’t I combating for that time period once we are nonetheless certainly combating for all of the parts that make up its definition?

In studying different definitions of what “feminist” means on-line, I reached some private readability. Merely googling the time period introduced me Oxford’s definition, which reads “an advocate of girls’s rights on the premise of equality of the sexes; an individual who helps feminism.” However the contextualizing pattern sentence beneath that definition is what spoke to me: “There are 1,000,000 sorts of totally different girls who think about themselves feminists, however don’t have the identical agenda.”

Individuals who determine as girls are usually not a monolith, so their rights can’t be fought for and their equality achieved in a single fell swoop.

I imagine this has all the time been true—that individuals who determine as girls are usually not a monolith, so their rights can’t be fought for and their equality achieved in a single fell swoop. However, this actuality has actually not all the time been acknowledged, and, extra importantly, not revered. This understanding of nuance highlights the distinction between what I felt as a toddler and what I’ve discovered by many years of lived expertise, culminating most just lately with my place as founder and CEO of State of Menopause.

I used to be initially taught, or maybe I simply assumed, that being a feminist meant combating for woman-identifying folks to have all of the rights and privileges man-identifying folks get pleasure from. As I’ve aged, this reductionist lens doesn’t do justice to what the struggle for equality—and extra, pressingly, fairness—for all girls would possibly truly appear to be. The emphasis on fairness is necessary as a result of, to me, “1,000,000 sorts of totally different girls” suggests precisely what it says: There isn’t a one solution to “be” a lady.

I’m grateful that Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the time period “intersectionality” in 1989, which initially aimed to explain the layered gender and racial discrimination that Black girls expertise. Since then, the time period’s use has expanded to replicate extra usually how totally different types of prejudice can compound, together with gender, intercourse, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, age, incapacity, and extra. With respect to feminism, intersectionality should be a part of the dialogue with a purpose to serve the wants and experiences of the “million sorts of girls.”

Moreover, simply as there are numerous sorts of girls, being a lady can imply various things. As an illustration, the intercourse we’re assigned at delivery doesn’t finally decide how we determine—irrespective of how we might current bodily to others. Organic intercourse can also be not the identical as gender, and neither of these decide sexuality.

It’s precisely these points and distinctions—amongst so many numerous others—that make for various agendas with regard to the specifics of what feminism means. I now imagine feminism isn’t only a struggle for ladies’s rights to be equal to males’s. (Although, to make certain we stand on the shoulders of each one that has fought for and those that proceed to struggle for “1,000,000 sorts of totally different girls” to have stated rights.)

Quite, the struggle is for any marginalized group that has been victimized by the patriarchy; by any system in place that disallows for equality. If we struggle for probably the most marginalized of the marginalized, everybody wins. Everybody deserves equality and fairness, which is simple to say however not straightforward to enact.

The phrase “feminism” was coined in 1837 by French thinker Charles Fourier. (A person. Oh, the irony.) It’s 152 years previous. Against this, Crenshaw’s phrase is a younger and wholesome 33. Evolution takes time, however it’s all the time taking place. So now, and in honor of Ladies’s Historical past Month, you’ll be able to name me an “intersectional feminist.” As a result of that resonates. And since I feel my mother would agree.

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