Feminisms: Core values? Goals?

First off, if you live in San Diego, you should get yourself to this benefit concert this weekend!

traffick jam

It seemed like I'd barely set foot on the ground in San Diego when I found myself boarding the train this afternoon for Los Angeles. Thanks so much to Diana and Travis for putting me up, transporting me, and feeding me (best. vegan. enchiladas. ever!). 

And thanks to DJ Kuttin Kandi and the folks at the UCSD Women's Center for welcoming me so warmly yesterday. And more thanks to Kandi and Emelyn dela Pena and the rest of Gabriella Network San Diego for co-organizing the Feminism In/Action discussion last night (and thanks to Pat and Maggie for hosting!). And thanks to everyone who came out and shared and listened. 

The energy of last night's discussion was powerful. Sharing space with people who identify as black feminists, as humanists, as womanists, as socialist feminists, as anarcha-feminists, as anti-feminists (meaning opposed to the mainstream, liberal conception of feminism), as anti-Imperialist feminists, as simply "feminists," or as unsure or feeling like they didn't know enough was... well, totally inspiring. It was inspiring to see people from different life experiences come together and work to create a space for honest dialogue about power and privilege. Inspiring to see people who are new to the ideals of feminism/social justice take risks and ask questions, and inspiring to see people who've been wrestling with these ideals for some time share their thoughts and struggles. Inspiring to be part of a discussion that examined both the power of the language of self-identity and the suffocation and boxing in it can lead to.  

I've had the privilege now of visiting 12 different communities to hear people's perceptions on contemporary feminisms (and I hope to be visiting a lot more). While each discussion has varied in focus, there's been widespread agreement that we shouldn't be seeking to form a singular definition of feminism. I agree wholeheartedly. Leaving room for diversity of perspective and experience is what helps us learn from each other, grow, and infuse our political sensibilities with love and compassion. But at the same time, I worry that without some set of core values -- or guiding principles -- or goals -- there won't be systemic movement, deep social change.

What do you all think?  What's your definition of feminism? Do you think a set of core values or goals is necessary? Or possible? And if so, how do we create them? 





by Debbie Rasmussen
View profile »

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

1 Comment Has Been Posted


I see feminism as the pursuit of equality for the female sex. For me, personally, that means breaking down most legal, economic and social barriers; particularly the way the idea of gender is imprinted onto us from such an early age, leaving little room to question our own personalities and leanings in relation to our sex. However, I know others will see it differently; which is why I think that we should encourage the idea of feminisms, and have this idea well known. I think one problem that faces the movement is the idea that everyone who idenitifies with feminism is extremely radical. I worry about the number of girls who refuse to identify as feminists purely because of this. I'm in my late teens, and the girls I have known, while supporting full equal rights, abortion and who are angry that "it's ok for guys to sleep with loads of girls, and not the other way round", still see feminism as something they should back away from. They cannot understand what feminism actually means. it's like it's a tabboo. And that really scares me, particularly when there are still some basic things to be taken care of.

As for core goals, I think if we are to encourage the idea of seperate feminisms, we need core values/goals to keep us together. I feel that on our hitlist should be the pay gap, the number of women in managerial or senior positions (or taking subjects seen as "male") and hiring practices (ie, avoiding taking on women of childbearing age). Most women would agree with those ideas, and they aren't too divisive. And they don't get talked about enough. Girls seem to think that we have all our rights, but there are still so many things to be resolved. We were discussing the fact that women are statistically the most-discriminated against group in the UK workplace and a boy claimed that this "wasn't real discrimination". I really feel that the next generation needs to get involved and stop following the crowd, and I think to do this these issues must be well-publicised, and "role-models" like nelly furtado should stop spouting off their rubbish about not being feminists because they don't hate men. Feminism should be brought back into the spotlight, and "liberal" feminism particularly, to get the movement going "mainstream" again.

Add new comment