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How exactly do you become a feminist?

(27 Posts)
HonoraryOctonaut Sat 20-Dec-14 14:21:43

I've got all sorts of vague ideas of what I believe and how I would like things to be but I don't know enough about the principles of feminism to call myself a feminist.

I want to change the way I think and view myself, and women, and the way I expected to be treated by men.

At the moment, I can honestly say I strongly dislike all men, I don't trust any of them and have tarred them all with the same brush and am guilty of sweeping generalisations etc. it's making me bitter and it's not the way I want to live my life, especially as I am raising boys, so I want to channel it into something healthy and useful.

I was in an abusive relationship for a long time and talked down to, and called names every day. Not a day went by when I wasn't critised for being a woman or didn't have to listen to rants about how inferior woman are, how they are all liars and so on.

But I don't know where to start.

zaracharlotte Sat 20-Dec-14 14:24:40

If you believe in equality, you are a feminist. There isn't a ceremony, nor do you have to read everything written under the branch of feminism.

Its a cliche, but have you read the wiki page? Will give a good overview on the movement's history.

Can I also point out, that whilst you've had bad relationship experiences, you don't hate all men. You like your sons, don't you?

mrscumberbatch Sat 20-Dec-14 14:25:58

Well, id say that you are a feminist.

There's no club as such and there's still varying opinions within the title of 'Being a Feminist'

Here is a good start as any. There's plenty of threads discussing feminist issues which you may, or may not, have realised were feminist issues.

Feel free to chime in with your tuppence worth!

FayKorgasm Sat 20-Dec-14 14:53:35

I think The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is a good book if you want some reading material. It really changed my view of the way I look at the world. It took me ages to read as it really made me think so I would read some,think some.

EBearhug Sat 20-Dec-14 15:11:18

Hanging about here is a good start - there's the pub thread, too.

There's the Everyday Sexism site (well, sites, it's a website, a twitter feed...) and also the book. There are loads of books about at the moment.

I find that when it comes to channelling it - finding a particular focus helps. As an individual, you can't fix everything, and if you tried to, you would probably crash under the enormity of it all. So find something that is particularly meaningful to you - I do a lot of STEM (science, tech, engineering, maths - with a focus on the tech for me) promotion through work and in a voluntary capacity. Other people might help with raising funds for rape crisis or their local women's refuge, or campaigning for the parliamentary 50:50 campaign. We've got people at work who organise Lean-In Circles. Or you could read up on loads of theory and find classes on women's history or something, or find support groups. When it comes to relationships, maybe something like finding out about assertiveness might help.

And to start with, you can just enjoy exploring things. You might come across some stuff that you think is a load of rubbish (there is not always a single view on aspects of feminism), but it's all going to increase your awareness, and if you can work out why you think it's a load of rubbish, then it's not time wasted, it's just adding to your knowledge.

BuffyWithChristmasEarings Sat 20-Dec-14 15:28:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FayKorgasm Sat 20-Dec-14 15:29:42

For me my feminism is on a very ground level,correcting rape myths,calling out sexist statements,language used in reference to women etc.

BuffyWithChristmasEarings Sat 20-Dec-14 15:42:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

weaselwords Sat 20-Dec-14 15:49:41

Like Fay, I'm interested in ground level, everyday feminism. I'm noticing more easily the casual inequalities in my life.

But I don't hate men! I'm married to one and have two sons and love them to bits. I hate some stuff that patriarchy causes and a lot of times it comes from women as much as men.

cailindana Sat 20-Dec-14 16:26:43

If you've been in an abusive relationship then it's understandable that you have a skewed view of men. Perhaps some counselling might help? Abuse can be incredibly damaging to the way you view the world and talking through your experiences might help.

You can always talk things through on here too and get a listening and sympathetic ear.

The good news is that delving into feminism should actually help you a lot in terms of liking men more. Once you understand more the ways in which both women and men are brought up with fucked up ideas about each other and how to behave you can view men's behaviour in a different, more understanding way. That's not to say it excuses abuse, it absolutely does not, but it can be helpful to see the damaging messages men are brought up with, about both themselves and women, and the ways in which these messages can warp the way they interact with others.

I always find it bizarre that some people equate feminism with man-hating.

To me, claiming that men can't help but rape a woman who is out alone, drunk or wearing a short skirt is extremely man-hating - how awful is it to believe that men are nothing more than animals who will hurt others at the slightest opportunity?

Part of the feminist viewpoint is that both women and men can be and do more. It's essentially an optimistic viewpoint, an idea that the world can be a safer, kinder place where everyone can thrive no matter what their gender.

TooOldForGlitter Sun 21-Dec-14 02:25:24

I feel the same as you OP. I have all these strong feelings, opinions and ideals that I know make me a feminist but I feel like I want to do something about it, or know more and then do something IYSWIM.

I won't be told anymore that I'm over thinking or reading too much into comments or behaviours I hear/see. I'm going to believe myself when I hear or see sexism. For me, reading this particular board daily is very helpful. I'm nowhere near as clever and articulate as most of the women who post here but I've come to see that that doesn't matter. I digest what I do understand and I read and try to look into and learn about the things I don't get. Feminism is for every woman IMO and I'm glad the smart ones can put into words what I want to say.

TooOldForGlitter Sun 21-Dec-14 02:27:18

That's a bit of a ramble but I'm just off a late shift and a bit tired. That's my excuse anyway smile

whatdoesittake48 Sun 21-Dec-14 10:25:17

I believe that everyone is born as a feminist. Young children have no concept of inequality or difference. For them it means nothing that their doctor is a woman or their nurse is a man. We teach our children how to not be feminist.
You are just going back to your natural state. Feminist is how we should all be and there really shouldn't even be a name for it.

grimbletart Sun 21-Dec-14 12:23:34

Exactly so whatdoesittake: it's a natural state - the belief that you are a human being like any other, not some inferior second class being that is not quite deserving of humanity.

LightningOnlyStrikesOnce Sun 21-Dec-14 12:27:32

How old are your boys incidentally? How many?

As Callindana said, you may want to consider counselling, especially if, as it sounds, you're now a single mum. I have been where you are but my dc have their dad as well.

LightningOnlyStrikesOnce Sun 21-Dec-14 12:39:52

I don't mean to sound harsh btw, the fact that you see a potential problem there immediately gives you a good chance to avoid it.

yussetec Sun 21-Dec-14 15:23:49

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

cailindana Sun 21-Dec-14 16:09:20

Yussetec, I know feminism is a hard concept to understand. It's great that you're here on the feminist boards with us, so keep reading and hopefully you'll start to get it. It's common for people to think the way you do, that feminism is about disliking men, but with time most intelligent people learn what it's actually about. I know it's complicated but keep trying. If you don't ever get what feminism is, well, that's not your fault, some people struggle all their lives with difficult concepts.

peachgirl Mon 22-Dec-14 09:51:34

cailindana you're being a bit kind, it's not really a difficult concept is it wink

Honestly OP I think it's different for everyone. I realised as a little girl that gendering toys, clothes, activities, etc. infuriated me, but of course I didn't know how to formulate and articulate my thoughts on it. (My hatred of pink things has lasted to this day.) As I grew older, I became more aware of divisions made between the sexes with regard to school subjects and career choices we were pushed towards, the marriage/babies/SAHM expectations (just to clarify I don't want to rat on that, I'm using it as an example of gendered expectations of me), and of course the horrible introduction to unwanted street and sexual harassment (which has also lasted to this day)... but I still didn't know how to express my feelings on this, or where to find out more.

Tumblr is what changed it all for me. Like this site, Tumblr gets a bad rap from some, and I think Tumblr feminists get the worst of it; however, I was exposed to material from all over the world on feminism, sexual discrimination and harassment, feminist/sexist legislation (Wendy Davis anyone? I would have had no idea but it was being liveblogged on Tumblr), statistics, and of course many, many real life stories and useful articles. The reading material you have access to is astounding. You may find it a useful starting point.

mabupupu Wed 24-Dec-14 00:24:14

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PuffinsAreFictitious Wed 24-Dec-14 00:35:46

I was in an abusive relationship for a long time and talked down to, and called names every day. Not a day went by when I wasn't critised for being a woman or didn't have to listen to rants about how inferior woman are, how they are all liars and so on.

You're not very good at reading posts are you mabutrollpu? Try making the letters all big and putting a ruler underneath. It might help. I'm going to bed now, but if you list the words you are having difficulty comprehending, I'm sure some kind soul will help you later on, or in the morning.

mabupupu Wed 24-Dec-14 00:37:39

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PuffinsAreFictitious Wed 24-Dec-14 00:40:02

And yet again you seem incapable of reading actual posts.


mabupupu Wed 24-Dec-14 00:50:23

I read and understood perfect. One individual man was abusive to her, so now she "strongly dislikes" all men and now wants to become a feminist.

PuffinsAreFictitious Wed 24-Dec-14 00:56:15

And I repeat. Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit. Is there anything you are good at? Maybe you could find a topic on MN about it. There's lots if them. Have a look. Feminism obviously isn't your bag, so one wonders why you're posting here. Heaven forfend that it's just to goad!

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