30 January 2015

What Does Feminism Mean: a response to Joseph Gordon-Levitt

90's women folk-festival me speaking out for snowpeople everywhere!

Let's begin with the f-word: feminism. That's all I'll need to say to send people all over the place...unfortunately. There is no one 'brand' of feminism and so women fight about the true meaning. In a recent news article it read 'some feminists say ___ while other feminists say [the total opposite]' to paraphrase.

Definition: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

So...a while back, Joseph Gordon-Levitt asked everyone: what does feminism mean to you?

I've allowed some time pass since first watching this video. I haven't rewatched it because I wanted my brain cells fully under my influence. My perspective on things has changed a lot over the years through thoughtful discussion and personal growth - whether it's changed or further confirmed my opinion depends on the topic.

It means equality to me. It means being heard and taken seriously. It means being valid...and yes, I am a feminist.

For a while I thought it meant I had to spread the word that "snowman" is sexist; it's snowperson, duh! I didn't want to dress or act stereotypically girlie...but if you know me, that comes naturally. Why couldn't I be a frilly feminist in an apron? I can. Though many Other Feminists would tell me I can't. I'm perpetuating a stereotype.

I don't think being a feminist means you should be anti-girl anymore than I think it should mean man-hating, anti-boy. Much of what those Other Feminists embrace is stereotypically masculine. WE are the ones who have created a spectrum. This is the world we live in, these are the things we have to express our inner/outter girl....or

...woman. Other Feminists don't like that I still say girl. It's a little more acceptable if I spell it grrrl...but not much...they often take the spelling and mangle it: womyn or somesuch. Spell it however it makes you feel comfortable but don't hold it against me if I write woman.

When it comes to taking your laws of my body? Yes, take your laws off my body - but where does my body end and another begin? I'm a carrier pigeon for life.

I did my internship at an abortion clinic in the mid-90's. I was a women's studies major for the short time I could afford college and wanted to help other women who'd been raped. I thought that a fetus was a clump of cells and it would be my right to an abortion.

But as I grew I saw flaws in my strong opinions. Where do my rights end and another's begin? When does life begin? Why do we show sympathy for miscarriages but indifference for abortion at the same gestational ages? Should we tell the grieving mother it was just a clump of cells anyway?

Does wanting a fetus make it life? That doesn't seem right.

I never planned on having a child. I was super hormonal my first trimester and scared because I could feel 'it' in me. It was alive and that scared me. I didn't think cells moved that fast but I was growing life inside me.

Then I delivered prematurely at 30 weeks. When I walked into the NICU late that night my first thought was: Oh my God...it's an abortion poster. I haven't told many people that. One pound babies made my 3 pounder look huge. They were lives, people, individual humans...and they were viable. Wanted vs unwanted.

I had two months to sit in my glider with Tristan against my chest, skin to skin, to ponder that.

Another thing I questioned: why do we hold a man responsible for a child he doesn't want? If a woman has rights over her body, shouldn't a true feminist who believes we should be equals say the man has a choice too? Why are they pursued for child support if they had no say? Why can't they just walk away? Does it make them anymore wrong than a woman who aborted a child without even letting the father know?

Gendercide. How can one be against gendercide but say it's all right in general?

There are so many gray areas for a girl who believes in law and order. My husband said, but don't you have to consider yourself pro-choice if you're a feminist. Do I? or do the laws need to be changed? I don't think they should be illegal, but something needs to be redefined. It's OK to say I don't know.

I hate that I had to spend so much time on that but that seems to be the crux of feminism...but should it? 

There are a lot of things I don't have a concrete answer to and it took me years to be able to say it. Back when I was defending snowpeople I was fairly certain I had it all figured out. It was black or white...yes or no...right or wrong. Pick one.

But all these years later I see that it's just a flow of conversation...and my knowledge isn't set in stone.

Am I afraid to share this? Absolutely.

It's fine if you disagree. Many of you will...but I will respect those differences and listen to your thoughts in return.


  1. Wow!I viewed feminism the same as you. Maybe I'm a feminist and did know it. I suposse I'll have to read more on it, but it confuses me because I don't believe men and women should make equal pay regardless if they have the same title. I believe the one who gets paid more should have the education and experience to back it up.

    I believe a woman's body is her own and her choice to abort or not should be left to her own discretion. You see so many reports of women killing their infants, and that's horriffic, but to me, if they aborted it, or had the option to, in my mind it would have been better than killing a living breathing child. Technically if you look at what I said from the outside it's the same thing, but in my mind, one is not truly a viable fetus until they can breath outside the womb. I really can't explain it in writing what I mean by that. I think what I'm trying to say is, once you're no longer a cluster of cells, then it's a fetus. Am I digging a hole or confusing myself and you more.

    1. I think a lot of women are feminists and don't know it...most. It's the word that scares them. There are so many ways women interpret it and some are scary. It's a war within the movement. I don't think a woman should make as much as a man if they aren't qualified...that isn't what equal rights means. If they are equals they should.

      Science is allowing us to make babies viable at younger and younger ages. There are orbs they can touch that can register their level of pain. I had a friend who was going into premature labor before midnight of the official day of viability...if she had her before midnight they wouldn't even try. After midnight, yes. It's a bigger grey line than I originally thought. I think I'm reading that you believe a fetus isn't a baby until viable. I don't think most people who would have had an unwanted baby would kill their kid...if it makes a difference I never wanted children. But I became a mother <3


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