Feminism Is. A Quick Manifesto

Feminism is voice.

Feminism waves the human flag passionately in support of the woman’s voice.

Feminism acknowledges that the legitimacy of this voice has not always been recognized or valued in the home and society, and that it is absolutely imperative that every woman’s voice be legitimized, heard and cultivated now and forever on. There is no going back, and until there is nothing more to address, the word feminism encompasses the struggle, the understanding and the conviction of people of all genders to include women in the conversation about themselves and the issues that affect them.

Those who scoff at feminists for complaining about problems already solved and equal rights already given, or who say that the playing field is already even, are essentially trying to silence that voice. Because there is still a lot of work to be done.

Those people who don’t “believe in feminism” have never had to wonder what it’s like to orgasm because their sex organs had been mutilated at birth, they have never had to worry about how a pregnancy could alter the course of their life and they have never been threatened, beaten or abused by a husband or boyfriend. Those who make snide remarks about “Feminazis” have never been sexually assaulted in the workplace or forced to cover their body from head to toe. Men who make jokes about feminists have never walked down the street and felt like prey or been restricted from driving, voting, leaving the house, participating in the governing of your country, or told they are the root of all evil. Or maybe they have, but aren’t seeing clearly. Women who believe feminism is counterproductive are perhaps even the most tragically misguided. This is where education is so important. Because of all the bad rap in the media, many people who are feminists don’t even know they are.

If you believe women shouldn’t be raped, molested or forced into or out of pregnancy, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women should have the same freedom as men to utilize their talents in the marketplace and be paid equally for those talents, you’re a feminist. If you believe that women are not just bitching and whining but actually speaking up for the things that are important, and expect to be taken seriously, you’re a feminist.

Feminism is education about the great women in history who have paved the way for the equal rights we enjoy today, and the road still yet untraveled.

Feminism is declaring authority over your own body and mind and demanding that others recognize that authority.

Feminism is the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness – in whatever form it may take, whether that is working 60 hours a week at a job you love or working 60 hours a week taking care of children you love, or somehow doing both. It is the freedom to explore your own deepest callings, your own minds, and your own bodies, to jump in and flounder in something that is unfamiliar because the shock of the cold is better than the numbness of a safe harbor. It’s also just living life the way you want to live your life.

Feminism is questioning everything, wondering why it is that way, and asking if there is something that can be improved or thought about from another perspective. Feminism is holistic and progressive and consciousness-raising.

Feminism is listening to your inner voice and believing it has just as much to say as anyone else’s, while honoring and never belittling the views and perspectives of those who think or perceive differently. It’s not dismissing the differences between men and women, but legitimizing those features that make women uniquely women and also doing away with the duality that has absolutely separated the sexes heretofore; gender exists on a spectrum.

Those who complain about feminists who are too loud or too masculine or too improper or too talented or too political are just scared without knowing why they’re scared because when women speak, the world must listen. And it has grown into a roar.

Feminism may have a bad taste in the mouths of those who are still unfamiliar with their own mechanics, who may not want to see injustice or who may be more comfortable in their own realm of privilege or denial. But as soon as that jaw starts working and speaking and yelling and singing for the rights of women everywhere, feminism becomes a blanket of hope you can take comfort in.

It’s knowing you’re not alone. Timothy “Speed” Levitch, a modern visionary, put it this way, “People riot the same way they orgasm. This is why the riots of men end as fast as they begin and have never really changed anything. Woman’s riot will be an ever-expanding, multiple, only-accumulating rebellion that will shatter this paradigm forever.”

Feminism is an ever-expanding growth of self-awareness that is spreading throughout the world that has the power to challenge millennia-old beliefs, empower cultivation of new thought, rearrange some flawed aspects of society, call attention to the heinous crimes committed against humanity and improve the lives of truth-seeking women and open-minded men everywhere. Feminism is both political and personal, theoretical and applicable.

Feminism is everything just listed and more, and if these points sound like rights that can apply to men, too, that’s because they are, and they are generally taken for granted as God-given rights.  Feminism doesn’t seek to remove those rights from men, but rather acknowledge that maybe the story has been flawed all along and that it’s time to write a new and paradigm-shifting chapter. Feminists are not afraid to demand that women’s voices be heard on matters of their own lives – on everything from sex to economics. If there is any hesitation to call yourself a feminist, ask yourself whether you stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL.

*** OK OK OK you caught me, I’ve had writer’s block and busy life lately, so I’m posting things I wrote a while ago that never saw the light of day. I wrote this for the women’s rights group I co-founded over the summer of 2012 to answer the question of whether using the term “feminism” would still be effective today. This was my defense of feminism to myself, to get me comfortable using the term in the face of much opposition against it, but it’s interesting to note that my perceptions of gender consciousness have grown tremendously since then, and I’ve since come to see the label of feminism, though still a valuable and legitimate tool for equality, more antiquated than what I aim to do with my work. My group and I are still working on languaging out an even more inclusive and forward-thinking way of describing the work we want to do and the vision we have. Just a quick note. Much more on this to come. Whee! ***

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