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March 25, 2007

Feminists?

"I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."
~ Rebecca West


Hopefully none of our readers will take this the wrong way (although in the true spirit of the Evil Slut Clique, we don't actually care what you think of us).

Lately a lot of people have been calling us "feminists". Part of that is our own doing... we have links to "feminist" sites, we discuss "feminist" topics, (and on occasion we have listed our site under "Feminism and Gender" categories).

We don't in any way think that being called a "feminist" is offensive or insulting and we do consider ourselves to have "feminist" viewpoints. However we don't really like to be put into categories at all, even ones that may accurately describe us. While the evil slut clique may include so-called "feminists" and we may raise so-called "feminist" issues, this is not really a "feminist blog". It's just... a blog.

Maybe part of the reason is that it has never been universally agreed upon exactly what makes someone a feminist. There is really no standard definition of what feminism is or what a feminist believes.

Wikipedia defines feminism as:
a collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies largely motivated by or concerned with the liberation of women from subordination to men. In simple terms, feminism, as the logical response to sexism, is a belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, and a movement organized around the conviction that biological sex should not be the pre-determinant factor shaping a person's social identity or socio-political or economic rights.
Dictionary.com defines it as:
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women
3. feminine character

Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
There are so many facets to feminism, that you can't pigeonhole someone into the category "feminist" and think that's that. There are so many women's issues; you can't expect all "feminists" to agree on everything... or even care about everything. What's more important to you - reproductive rights, fair wages, health care, body image, or same-sex marriage?

You can't define who you are, based solely by what you do or what you believe.

From the Happy Feminist blog:

Feminism is not a monolith, nor is it a dogma. The only thing you have to believe in order to call yourself a feminist is that ensuring women's freedom and equality of opportunity in all spheres of life is a crucial priority. That's it.

Feminists all work from that basic axiom, but aside from that we are an incredibly diverse group.
...We are diverse in terms of emphasis. Some of us focus on fostering equality in the realm of sex. Some of us are concerned with the equality of opportunity for professional women. Some of us care most about cultural attitudes regarding the proper roles and characteristics of men and women. Some of us criticize organized religion, while others work for reform from inside faiths such as Catholicism or Mormonism or Islam. Some of us stress the issue of violence upon women. Some of us are primarily concerned with reproductive rights. Some of us point to gender apartheid in places like Saudi Arabia, while others criticize inequities in comparably more "liberated" societies in the West...

...We are diverse in terms of the conclusions we draw from our feminism. Feminists often disagree with each other on all sorts of things. For example (and this is a gross simplification, by the way) some feminists believe that pornography is inherently degrading to women whereas others may believe that participation in pornography is potentially empowering. The point is that both camps are looking at the issue in terms of how pornography affects women's freedom and equality. Both camps are feminist even though they reach diametrically opposed conclusions. As another example, I believe strongly in the equality of opportunity for women in business, but I would be very much opposed to the United States imposing a quota like Norway's where companies are legally required to have a 40% female board of directors...

...I suppose people may be inclined to say that my definition of feminism is so broad as to render feminism irrelevant. People often ask, well, doesn't everyone think that women should be free and equal? Sadly, the answer is no.


You can have poor body image and still be a feminist. You can be a sex worker and still be a feminist. You can be pro-life and still be a feminist. You can be a stay-at-home mother and still be a feminist. You can be any race, any income level, any sexual orientation, any marital status, any profession.

A lot of the things we do and say might not be considered "feminist" by many women. However, they still are. Why? Because to us, being a "feminist" can be as simple as doing something because it's what you want to do (not because society says you should -- or shouldn't).

Even though we're hesitant to label ourselves anything, let alone "feminists"... nothing pisses me off more than "I'm not a feminist, but..." What the fuck does that mean? "I'm not a feminist, but..." implies a) that a feminist is a bad thing to be, and b) that whatever you end that statement with, doesn't in and of itself make you some sort of feminist. Almost every woman is a "feminist" in some small way. I don't like being labeled, but that's not because I'm ashamed of being called a feminist. It's just because that's not all I am. It's not what I'm about.

Here is an excerpt on "Redefining Feminism" from BeingJane.com:

There is nothing wrong with feminism today. However, we acknowledge that “feminism” is a historically and emotionally laden word. Too many people hear the word “feminism” and believe it represents women who harbor resentment against men. Others take a more tongue-in-cheek approach and immediately think of the bra-burning parties of the 1960s. Some women of younger generations have no recollection of feminism whatsoever and don’t identify with it.

We believe feminism should be a word and a movement ripe with optimism and relevancy. In fact, Being Jane is trying to foster a renewed zeal for feminism. We are creating a network of women helping women to realize the opportunity for all women to be whomever and whatever they want to be: From CEO to homemaker, from motorcyclist to philanthropist, from fighter pilot to missionary.

So yeah, we're feminists... and we care about feminist stuff... and we write about feminist stuff... on our feminist blog. But we're more than just feminists, we care about more than just feminist stuff, and we write about more than just feminist stuff on our... blog.


"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men."
~ Gloria Steinem

1 comment:

The Happy Feminist said...

Hurray for feminists! The more the merrier!