Feminism is one of those words, ever changing in its meaning, which carries with it so much responsibility, that I feel drawn to read, watch, analyze, anything that includes the term. What is feminism, what does it mean to be a feminist? I have been searching for the answer to those questions for about four years now. I haven’t reached total understanding yet, but the learning process has opened my eyes to see the world in ways that I hadn’t before, makes me strive for a deeper understanding, makes me push myself to go farther than I thought possible. Feminism isn’t just a label-a way to identify politically and socially. It is part of who I am, what I stand for, and what I strive to be.
I have spent more time in the last four years answering to the assumption that I am a Feminist. I am informed, by others, of my feminism a regular basis- by classmates, professors, colleagues, family, strangers- and, up until recently, I have always denied that I am. Why? Perhaps it is because my definition of Feminism was unclear until recently. It isn’t the same as saying, “I am a Marxist.” or “I am a liberal.” Feminist is one of those classifications, much like Rhetorician, that is ever changing in its definability.
In 2013, I participated in a class on Feminist Rhetoric, and argued with the professor on a regular basis that what she was calling feminism should have simply been referred to as being human. That class is where my grasp of the world of Feminism really started to shape. I learned about First Wave, Second Wave, and Third Wave Feminism. I began to see Feminist rhetoric everywhere I looked. Sadly, I also began to see anti-Feminist rhetoric everywhere as well. I began participating in conversations in a different manner. I found myself defending the idea of Feminism against those who would argue that the era of the Feminist was over, that there was no longer a need for the movement. I began, at long last, to see in myself what was so obvious to others. I am a Feminist.
I struggled for a long time with the idea that to be a Feminist, I had to completely disengage from being the stereotypical woman. I couldn’t do that. I cook dinner for my family every night. I clean my house, do all of the laundry, and take care of the grocery shopping. If I wake up in the middle of the night to a sick child, I stay awake and give comfort. I call in sick to my job to take care of their needs that day. I don’t consider even asking their father to do so. For so long, I thought that this meant that I couldn’t say I was part of a Feminist movement. I was wrong. Because of Feminism, I can do all of these stereo-typical female “things.”
I am in my final year of Graduate school. I have gone from denying Feminism to completely submerging myself into it. My thesis will cover feminist rhetoric in three popular television series. I have spent months reading Sojourner Truth, Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Donna Harraway, Judith Butler, bell hooks, and more. I make connections in every day life to the rhetoric that these woman devoted their lives to. From this course, I hope that I am able to grow further, that I am able to add to my understanding and comprehension of what Feminism is.