Mom's feminism vs My Own :-)
Critical Feminist Studies has been one of the most valuable classes I have taken so far at Bryn Mawr. When I entered the classroom, I was a self-declared feminist. Having grown up with a mother and aunt who are both very pro-choice and empowering, I saw feminism as something rather basic – the act of fighting for the rights of women to be equal to those of men. However, I quickly learned that there are so many aspects of feminism that one has to learn about in order to be able to fight for each of those rights within the larger foundation of feminism. This really made my head ache once we started talking about all the various ways the direction of the class could grow. . . It was not at all as “basic” a viewpoint as I had thought. Everything my Mom had taught me had just been expanded to the utmost dimension. . .ahhh!
I have learned that the discussion of feminism is something very different to each and every person and that what we find most important to fight for within that framework also varies immensely. I learned so many new things, most specifically, about trans and gender issues. I honestly never thought before to think of gender as a societal construct. . . I never imagined someone living without gender entirely. The conversations we had about The Gender Workbook and Kate Bornstein’s theories was very eye-opening in the way it taught me that things really are not black and white in the construct of gender at all. There are masculine and feminine things about everyone. . . so where does the put us all? It is very interesting to think about.
Similarly, the points made about the various progressions of feminism in a global aspect was something that intrigued me. Persepholis made me realize that there can be feminist standings within worlds we would consider very unfeminist .
I wish I had been more talkative in this class and it was something I feel was my biggest downfall. However, I often felt intimidated and worried that I would not sound correct or articulate enough if I was to make an open statement in front of the whole class during our circle. Those who knew more about feminism and gender issues were always very open with their points of views, and seemed to have articulated these views many a time before. In this way, I did not feel on the same level as them and it felt like a much safer space if I would just listen instead. Plus, I'm a talented listener.
. . .Just being a listener made me learn immensely!. . . and realize that feminism really means something for everyone, and feminism really is for everyone! I think that the final teach-ins that we had during our last class made me realize how much I had learned over the semester. Everyone’s presentation had a diverse flair, voice and viewpoint and this further accentuated the fact that while feminism is for everyone, it also means something different for all of us, and everybody on the outside too.
I hope to take back to my mother and aunt these different viewpoints and discussions about feminism and be able to teach them that there are varying ways to think about the whole idea of feminism. It is so much more than fighting for equal rights for women and it is important to learn how to dig into that phrase and see what else may come of it.