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What is feminism?

(53 Posts)
InnocentRedhead Mon 19-Sep-11 17:03:07

How would you answer that question is as few words as possible? I know there is the ever obvious 'Wanting equal rights for women as men in society' which essentially in my uneducated view, is what it seems.

But what is feminism to you?

New to Feminist boards and I want to know if there is a typical view or many differing.

TrillianAstra Mon 19-Sep-11 17:07:24

Thinking that people should be equally valued, equally respected, and given equal opportunities regardless of their gender.

With a side-order of "believing that it is not currently how things are, but wanting to to be so".


Others will say that you don't count as a feminist unless you do something about it, but IMO it's all about the beliefs.

JosephineB Mon 19-Sep-11 17:33:57

This is what feminism means to me:

If you're female and... can vote, thank a feminist. get paid as much as men doing the same job, thank a feminist. went to university instead of being expected to quit after school so your brothers could go because ‘you'll just get married anyway’, thank a feminist. can apply for any job, not just 'women's work', thank a feminist. can get or give birth control information without going to jail, thank a feminist.

...your doctor, lawyer, vicar, judge or MP is a woman, thank a feminist. play an organised sport, thank a feminist. can wear trousers without being excommunicated from your church or run out of town, thank a feminist.

...your boss isn't allowed to pressure you to sleep with him, thank a feminist. get raped and the trial isn't about your hemline or your previous boyfriends, thank a feminist. start a small business and can get a loan using only your name and credit history, thank a feminist are on trial and are allowed to testify in your own defense, thank a feminist. own property that is solely yours, thank a feminist. have the right to your own salary even if you are married or have a male relative, thank a feminist. get custody of your children following divorce or separation, thank a feminist. get a voice in the raising and care of your children instead of them being completely controlled by the husband/father, thank a feminist.

...your husband assaults you and it is illegal and the police stop him instead of lecturing you on better wifely behaviour, thank a feminist. are granted a degree after attending university instead of a certificate of completion, thank a feminist. can breastfeed your baby discreetly in a public place and not be arrested, thank a feminist. marry and your civil human rights do not disappear into your husband's rights, thank a feminist. have the right to refuse sex with a diseased* husband [or just "husband"], thank a feminist. have the right to keep your medical records confidential from the men in your family, thank a feminist. have the right to read the books you want, thank a feminist. can testify in court about crimes or wrongs your husband has committed, thank a feminist. can choose to be a mother or not a mother in your own time not at the dictates of a husband or rapist, thank a feminist. can look forward to a lifespan of 80 years instead of dying in your 20s from unlimited childbirth, thank a feminist. can see yourself as a full, adult human being instead of a minor who needs to be controlled by a man, thank a feminist.

* Thanks specifically to Josephine Butler - in whose honour I chose my screen name!

JosephineB Mon 19-Sep-11 17:35:53

Ooops - completely missed the 'in as few words as possible' request blush

LRDTheFeministDragon Mon 19-Sep-11 17:41:03

grin at josephine. I'm tempted to say feminism is about getting women the right to use as many words as they damn well want wink. And I do think not shutting women up has a lot to do with feminism.

For me: Feminism is the recognition that all people deserve equal rights, and that society is structured such that women are systematically discriminated against.

Tchootnika Mon 19-Sep-11 17:50:56

Feminism in as few words as possible...?

Finding productive alternatives to patriarchy.

JosephineB Mon 19-Sep-11 18:44:49

At LRD grin

Catitainahatita Mon 19-Sep-11 18:54:02

Sounds like an A-level question!
I would subscribe to what has been said above; although I would credit feminism rather than any feminist in particular (seeing as it was/is a bit of group effort).

My only observation would be that my favourite defnition of feminism is one that describes it as a battle to abolish gender.* I hate gender stereotypes and the way people love to define people with the "ah yes, (s)he's a girl/boy though". Women and men are humans both who comes in different shapes, sizes with different strengths and weakness, talents etc. To quote someone else (I cant remember who) biology is not destiny.

*Gender not biological sex. I mean how "feminity/masculinity" is defined and imposed on people via culture and education. I have no truck with biology.

(And sorry I can't tell you who said this stuff originally and I haven't time to google.)

wicketkeeper Mon 19-Sep-11 19:40:00

Learning to see men as equal to us.

If we continue to want to be equal to men, we are subconsciously saying that they are in some way superior and we want to 'live up' to that. No, we need to begin to see men as equal to us.

SybilBeddows Mon 19-Sep-11 19:43:08

what's the famous quote.... 'feminism: the radical notion that women are people'.

which sort of takes in the idea that they are not currently treated as if they are.

TrillianAstra Mon 19-Sep-11 20:01:11

Er, what do you think equal means wicketkeeper?

We are equal to men, they are equal to us, we are equal to each other. Equal works just the same in both directions. That's why it is equal.

HereBeBolloX Mon 19-Sep-11 20:40:49

Yes the radical notion that women are people.

But seeing as how lots of people think women are already considered people, my definition in as few words as possible would be

The notion that women's concerns, interests and lives, matter as much as men's.

HereBeBolloX Mon 19-Sep-11 20:41:30

And that the world must change to accommodate that

frumpyq Mon 19-Sep-11 21:07:54

Disclaimer (Might be talking bollox here)

Feminism to me is about total equality and everyone having the same ability to make the same choices regardless of sex.

And for society as a whole to understand that violence and control against women has to stop.

scottishmummy Tue 20-Sep-11 00:25:24

pursuit of equality,inquiry,action into fair equitable treatment of people.recognition women have been and are structurally,culturally and institutionally disadvantaged

ComradeJing Tue 20-Sep-11 02:51:32

Feminism is the understanding that men and women are equal and should be treated equally but knowing that this is not currently the case and wanting this to change.

IMO anyway

Beachcomber Tue 20-Sep-11 08:24:17

Feminism is a political movement, the aim of which is to liberate women from their current state of oppression, by challenging, and bringing about the demise of, male supremacy.


InnocentRedhead Tue 20-Sep-11 08:38:55

Would you say I am a feminist (not in the strongest sense) in that I have being offered opportunities and have being able to turn them down, but still agree with the feminist position and want to help those around me that may not be in the same fortunate position as me.

In the sense that I work part time so I can stay at home most of the time for the family. I chose this as this was best for me and my circumstances, in fact my partner encouraged me to get a full time job if I wanted.

As said above, I agree on the feminist position and many of the comments above, but the fact I chose to take more of a traditional route (working as well though). I thank feminism that I am able to make the choice between what I have and what I could have done - education and high flying jobs are not for me - what I am doing is. If you see what I mean

*I exercise my right to vote thanks to women before us, some who laid down their lives.
*I exercise many of the things josephineb mentioned

And to me equality is the freedom to make decisions for yourselves and not be forced to make decisions for/by those around you.

TrillianAstra Tue 20-Sep-11 08:42:18

Just because you think women should be able to do a thing, doesn't mean you personally want to.

I think women should be allowed to fly planes, for example, but I have no desire to fly a plane myself.

millimurphy Tue 20-Sep-11 09:43:37

Not posted here before but had a discussion with husband the other night and we ended up talking about feminism. I asked him what he thought a feminist was and he replied, 'someone who hates men'. I told him he was wrong. He had also never heard the term 'misogyny' and didn't know what the word meant. I told him I was a feminist and he seemed surprised. I tried to explain it to him in a few basic concepts but couldn't articulate them very well - just sounded like I was ranting. Didn't do very well in educating him.

HereBeBolloX Tue 20-Sep-11 11:05:11

grin OMG at your DH.


I shouldn't laugh because it is absolutely shocking that schools are not educating our population properly. It would be a bit like saying that the black activists who worked with Martin Luther King in the sixties, were anti-white racists. No one thinks that, because they are properly educated about what the civil rights movement was and why it was important. And yet feminism, which was one of the central most important movements of the twentieth century, is simply not taught in our schools. Oh well...

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 20-Sep-11 11:16:42

milli - a mate of mine, reasonably well educated and intelligent, once insisted doggedly that feminism 'stopped' in the 1970s and you couldn't be a feminist now, they'd all died out, you might admire what feminists did in the 1970s but you couldn't decide to become one now. Like it was some kind of club whose membership closed in 1979!

Innocent - IMO that's strongly feminist.

millimurphy Tue 20-Sep-11 11:47:24

He is a clever and intelligent man as well. Thank-u for the replies - i feel very welcome as people have said this is a scary place to post blush. I don't feel like a very good feminist, but have been trying to learn more as i have a young son (3 months). I don't want him to grow up feeling entitled over 50% of the population just because he is male. I also want him to be able to do his own ironing.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 20-Sep-11 11:49:48

grin A man who can iron, always good!

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 20-Sep-11 12:00:40

Oh yes. DH does all the ironing in the fletcher household. You have to put that greater upper body strength to good use (biology not gender doncha see ) wink

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