This I Believe

Nandi - Gridley, California
Entered on April 19, 2006

I believe that feminists do not have to agree on most issues in order for an engaging, prolific movement to continue. Now in its so-called third wave and marked by its discursive analyses of privilege, sexuality, and self-expression, there are as many feminisms as there are feminists. I believe that each feminist who comes to the conversation interested in self and collective empowerment, will show up with experiences and emotions around race, class, sexuality, religion, and education that will likely differ from my own. Thus her contributions will differ from mine. This emotional and experiential knowledge will help determine one’s role in addressing and resolving global, national, and/or local concerns; it will shape what one believes should be core issues of the movement; and upon demanding their voices be heard, their standpoint and perspectives will potentially expand how others think about our bodies, our contributions, our privileges, and our personal struggles. In other words, we can be from opposite sides of the planet—quite literally—or regarding our sexual desires, our ethnicities, or our feelings about George Bush. It is our love for humanness and a willingness to work toward that aim and centering our efforts on the de-marginalization of women and girls, that define us as sisters (and brothers).

Whether we are raising conscious children at home or raising hell on the steps of the Capital, progressive feminists believe that there is no one feminism and no one way to be feminist. I believe that political activism is the responsibility of every American. How one chooses to be engaged, what issues she thinks are most important, and what community she feels most accountable to, are secondary considerations to the more important issue of showing up. There is room for every voice at the feminist table. Most of us believe this.

I, personally, believe that people who hold disdain for feminism do not understand it. There are many media now that do an amazing job of explaining what feminism is, how it continues to shift due to the efforts of disenfranchised women, and what burgeoning issues arrive on the table. Feminism is no longer about the right to vote or simply about equal rights. I believe every person should seek out information to clarify feminism for themselves, even if it is their disdain that needs clarifying.

And for the record few feminists hate men. Feminism is not, was not, and will never be embedded in hatred. Feminists who hate men, do so for reasons that may or may not be attached to their political views on women’s marginalization. But they do not hate men (or other women) because of feminism. Yes, as feminists we believe all sorts of things. But we do not believe in hatred, especially in the name of feminism.