Monday, December 12, 2005

Feminism and Labels

There has been an ongoing debate about the meaning of the label "feminist" between earnest, leftist ladies at Feministe and The Countess and the ribald Jeff Goldstein (who has a fetish for correct terminology). It's been entertaining reading, especially considering that I would call myself feminist but would most assuredly be labeled "anti-feminist" by those ladies. Darleen agrees with the arguement that the divide comes between opportunity (or equity) feminists and gender feminists and counts herself as an equity feminist and by and large I agree with her (and Jeff). There needs to be a clearing of the threshing floor here. Where lies the fundemental difference between the two, where does it begin? I'm not talking differences of policy or politics, differences of legislation or goals. I will make a wager here, the difference is between the value and emphasis placed on gender as part of the whole.

I label myself or identify my roles differently based on the different circumstances I find myself in. In my women's Bible study my emphasis is on how long I have self identified as a Christian, a wife, and a mother. If I were to introduce myself to a new person I would introduce myself as a Christian, writer and mother of three. In the context of a woman's group, my identification with aspects of my gender role are emphasised because that is where those roles are important and have bearing on what I say, more than if I said that I was a writer. Obviously, being a woman has bearing on all my perspectives, but it is not the most important factor in every role I undertake. So here is my wager, to what degree does gender emphasis play in leftist feminist labeling? For example, do most or all of thier self labels include the words "female, feminine, or woman"? I am not a writer but a female writer; I am not a CEO but a woman CEO? I say alot. I am woman, hear me roar?

There is nothing wrong with advocating for your gender, for celebrating it's difference from men, from it informing the myriad roles you perform each day. When gender is exaggerated out of balance, when it is given more emphasis than it deserves, it distorts your view and you become deceived into thinking that everyone places the same emphasis on it that you do.

So what do I mean by feminist? A feminist is someone who believes that the female gender is equal to the male. That our roles are distinct and unique and that to compare them is to compare apples to oranges. In exercizing our opportunities, we must not abdicate our responsibilities - but wait that goes for men too. That whole equality thing, huh, go figure.

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