“Based off of my already conceptualized knowledge of the word, I would have to say that a feminist is a person who strongly supports female rights.” This is a quote from my introduction paragraph of the first essay we wrote for this class. Having been in this class and read the works written by feminist authors, I have a better understanding of what a feminist actually is. I also have a better understanding of my identification with feminism.
Feminism is an ongoing collection of movements and ideologies that advocate for the betterment of women and a feminist is someone who supports this idea. However, my answer still remains the same as it did; I do not identify as a feminist. It would be an insult to feminist leaders for me to call myself one. I support feminist ideas and feel as though women have been oppressed and still are oppressed, but I am not an active supporter, therefore I would not call myself a feminist. I feel as though a feminist is someone who is active in their support for the movement, i.e. advocating for women by either teaching, writing, protesting, or doing things of that nature to improve the treatment of women. There is a major difference in saying that you support feminism and actually doing something to show that support.
To further explain my understanding of feminism, I want to uncover the different layers of oppression that women face. While in the 1900’s the goal of feminism was for women to receive equal treatment to men, feminism is no longer in opposition to just men, but race, class, and gender as well. This is how the intersectional approach to feminism occurred. Intersectionality was introduced in class through Crenshaw’s essay about the racial dimensions of sexual harassment of African-American women. Intersectionality relates to feminists studies because it’s an analytical way of looking at more than one identity. The two main identities that have to be incorporated in an intersectional analysis are race and gender, which are two of the issues that Crenshaw focused on in her argument. She made valuable points about the fact that African-American women are always stuck in a rock and a hard place when it comes to racism and sexism, which touches on the binary -- two options that are in opposition to each other. She basically made the argument that African-American women are not taken seriously, especially when it comes to cases of rape or sexual harassment, which is why she used the Anita Hill case as a prime example. African-American women are damned no matter what choice they make because either way they will get criticized for being black, and criticized for being a woman. This all leads into the idea of oppression.
Marilyn Frye’s essay was heavily based on the idea of oppression and how people fail to see the big picture of oppressed women and are making the word meaningless by using it otherwise. Frye argued that people misuse the term to victimize themselves when they are in fact they are the oppressors. She explained that men for example try to claim oppression, when their version of oppression is only temporary suffering. Women are oppressed because they’re stuck in a double-bind. Frye used an example of rape to show this. She wrote that if a woman is raped, it’s presumed that she liked it if she was sexually active and if she was not sexually active she still liked it because she is “sexually frustrated”. This also supports Crenshaw’s idea and further explains why women aren’t taken seriously in rape cases.
I’ve discussed intersectionality and the double-bind of women who identify as women. However, what about the women who identify with another gender? They’re surely oppressed as well. Anne Fausto-Sterling’s essay focused on the idea of masculinity and suggests…