I think that it is important to note that you can not define feminism unless it is intersectional. Intersectional feminism is acknowledging the intersectionality of different identities, and the ways in which power and privilege play a role in those different identities. While feminism focuses on equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism focuses on overlapping identities and the ways in which they impact an individual’s experiences. This concept allows us to learn from the stories other women- not just ones like ourselves.
I identify myself as a feminist because I make it a priority to advocate for the rights of all women, while also recognizing the power and privilege I own as a white, straight, cisgender individual. Because feminism often centers on the stories and experiences of white women, a level of humility and acknowledgment is imperative. In order to be a feminist for all women, it is important to speak up, but also be willing to listen.
I see feminism as an all-encompassing word. It means the complete equality of every human being. No gender identity, color, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, mental/physical limitation ranks one human beneath another. Feminism is to know that every person deserves the same opportunity to find success and happiness.
One of my both favorite and least favorite results of studying politics, history and ethics is having the background knowledge of the injustices that exist in our current world. I identify as a feminist because I know that without a movement, without people shouting and screaming in demand of change, change will not occur, especially as fast as it needs to. I know how far we have come, but I also know how much farther we have to go. I am a feminist because I believe in the innate beauty, potential and intelligence of every gender and every person.
For me, feminism is living with integrity in the world while paying relentless attention to issues of gender, and having the courage to stand up and speak when it would be much, much easier to just sit there. In fact, Judith Plaskow wrote a book about how the ten commandments were written for men, and were they re-written for women, the first commandment would be “Thou shalt not be silent when it is time to speak.”
I identify as a feminist because things have to change. The expense of living as we have for this long is not only unbearably high, it’s unbearably wrong. It can also be pathetically funny. While using the vhs radio to call for a launch pick-up from my boat recently, there were two men using the same channel. When one of them heard my hail, he said to his buddy (and over the public channel), “So there’s broads out here now?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Most basically, feminism is about acting and believing in such a way that affirms equality of and equity for all genders. Inherent to this is necessity and urgency of fighting all forms and systems of oppression, whether racism, heterosexism, ableism, and so on.
I identify as a feminist because I am a Christian, and in my understanding of my faith, I therefore must be a feminist and do feminism.
Intersectional and transnational forms of feminism have influenced my outlook, and at the same time these days, with pervasive exploitation coming to light, I am reminded of more basic understandings of feminism concerned with affirming and defending the full humanity of women.
I was raised in a feminist household, for starters: my Mom was a quiet trailblazer in her day—the first laywoman to graduate from her masters program, the first woman to risk wearing pants to her office at a publishing company in New York City in the 70s, the only mom I knew growing up who kept her last name upon marriage. My Dad was also a feminist from my earliest days, modeling shared household tasks and empowering women in his guild; I can remember being mortified when, while touring BC when I was high school student, he asked the tour guide why there weren’t any buildings named after women! More recently, as a Catholic ethicist I’m in a field committed to universal human dignity and liberation from oppression—both deeply in sync with feminist values.