March 8th is an exciting day! First of all, it’s my wonderful partner’s 28th birthday (Happy Birthday, Abe!). Second, it’s National Colon Cleansing Day (Remember! A clean colon is a happy colon).
And then, it’s International Women’s Day and Feminist Coming Out Day!
As much as I love Abe and colons, this post is going to focus on the latter two.
“Well, women are equal now. Why do we need feminism anymore?”
At first, I struggled to explain my answer to this question. A lot of sexism is so subtle and ingrained in our minds that it’s hard to get people to notice it unless they’ve had an experience that brought it to light.
My experience was when a Sunday School teacher looked me in the eye and told me I shouldn’t be going to college because it was selfish of me to waste money on a degree if I wanted children someday. He told me I couldn’t be a good mother and have a career. After that in-yo-face encounter with sexism, I began to notice other ways that patriarchal Christianity holds women down. And then I began to realize that such behavior wasn’t confined to the church.
Now-a-days, I don’t get this question as often, however. You only have to turn on the news for five minutes, or scroll through your Facebook timeline to experience some in-yo-face sexism. I think a lot of us are starting to realize that feminism is, indeed, still a necessity.
If feminism is dead, then we feminists need to start our own zombie apocalypse, because patriarchy and sexism and other forces that keep women down are very much alive.
The events we’re hearing about on the news and on our radios and in our churches and Christian blogospheres may be awful, but they’re waking us up.
But feminism is still a word with baggage–some of it earned, much of it loaded on by defensive patriarchy.
So, this International Women’s Day, I want us to redeem feminism. I want us to redeem the idea of women identifying with each other, sticking up for one another, investing our time and energies and relationships to one another, fighting for our rights. I want us to redeem the idea of women (and men too!) working toward a world of gender equality.
If you’ve considered feminism but are hesitant because of the past mistakes of the feminist movement (mistakes which you are right not to ignore!) or because of the stereotypes, I encourage you to read Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks for a strong defense of feminism (and an enjoyable read–hooks is a fabulous writer). It’s cheap on Amazon and only about 100 pages long, and reminds us that, “A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving…”
And, if you still don’t want to identify with feminism because of it’s baggage, but still want to fight for the rights of women, awesome! It doesn’t matter what you call yourself–you can still stand up for the rights of women this International Women’s Day!
That’s what it’s all about, really. Patriarchy tries to divide us all. Men vs. women. Feminist vs. non-feminist. Black vs. white vs. Asian vs. Hispanic. Housewives vs. “career women.” Straight women vs. lesbians. Rich vs. poor.
But there’s so much to be done. We can’t do it unless we’re willing to work together in the areas in which our needs intersect, and unless we’re willing to be supporters and allies to other “groups” who have different needs than us.
So, this March 8th, let’s cleanse our colons of feces and toxins, and let’s cleanse the world of forces that hurt women!