13 December 2011
"What is feminism?" (or - I just want to scream)
(c) photo by khulud kh - all rights reserved
Just wanted to scream.
Ok so I’m sitting in this group. We’re all sitting in a circle. We start like in a feminist Collective with a round of names. Then there’s time and space for thoughts we had since our last meeting. The group is containing. Pleasant atmosphere. Some of the women are my friends. Others are new to me. Then we work in small groups, answering the following questions: “When did I discover I was a feminist? What was my first feminist act?” So I share my thoughts. My first feminist act – I don’t remember. But I do remember my most significant feminist act, which continues to accompany me. That of bringing my voice into the open. The transition from the private to the public sphere in my writing. And with this transition, the contents of my writing also changed from the personal to the political. And this is feminism all about – at least to me.
Then we went back to the group, and we were asked to share personal stories. I shared mine. Another woman shared hers. Her first feminist act was as a young teenager, when she took part in organizing and holding a demonstration. She stressed the collective power, the power to change, and the action in the public sphere. We were both talking about the same thing. From the private to the public – these are our first and most significant feminist actions.
Then, several other women talked, and as I was listening, trying to understand them and contain their different views of feminism, a silent scream began to form inside of me. While thinking of my feminist act, my independence or the fact that I am a single provider for my household, or the fact that I don’t cook – all these didn’t even cross my mind. But this was the main thing these women talked about. They talked about the importance of being an economically independent woman, but at the same time expressed clear antagonism towards feminism. One of them said that she took care of an old lady who never married and never had children, and that this old lady was very sad because she felt she had missed on life. What does this have to do with feminism? The focus of their talk was relationships, with cooking sneaking in every now and then. Oh, and burning bras.
So this is what feminism means to them? I thought and wanted to let that scream loose. None of them talked about social struggles, structural oppression, the rule of hegemony, acting in the public sphere.
This was yesterday. 24 hours have passed, and I am left with some thoughts. Yes, I am an economically independent woman. Yes, I am the single provider for my household. No, I don’t have a husband or a partner who lives with me. No, I don’t know how to cook. Now the question is – is this because I’m a feminist? I want to say no! These choices have nothing to do with feminism. But that would be not looking the truth in the eye. Feminism for me is a wide worldview and a way of life. So I guess the choices – personal or not – I make in my life are always connected this way or that – to the fact that I am a feminist.
But what I want to say is that this is not the essence of feminism, and never has been. Many feminists love to cook, many feminists are married and have children, and many feminists wear bras (YES).
So, what did I want to say? Oh yes, I just wanted to let that scream out and make clear the fact that my feminism is about the political. It’s not about cooking, not about bras, not about living (or not) with a partner. It’s about my right to be present and act in the public sphere. Mainly, for me, at this stage – it’s about my voice! About my voice having the legitimacy to be heard in the public sphere. There you go – I let my silent scream out.
(c) all rights reserved to khulud kh (2011)
Posted by khulud khamis
Labels: bits an' pieces, Political Comments of the Day (or things that drive me crazy), women in a partiarchal society