Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Call yourself a feminist? (2)...Well, no!

Despite being grateful to feminists, and having read many of their key works, I do not consider myself a feminist (despite yesterday's evidence) because....
I find them loud and shouty and deliberately reactionary
I find that they alienate a lot of women and most men who aren't as radical as them
I feel that they have no answer, no response to the issue of motherhood, except avoid it, or ignore their children. BUT this does not throw me in with the Catholic New Feminists either...

But before you get too cross with me, I don't call myself a suffragette either, and nor do you! And I am deeply grateful to both sets of women. Deeply. But times move on. Needs change. Issues change. Ways of communicating change...
For me the suffragettes fought for women to move from a childlike social status where they were the property of their husbands, with no legal or democratic rights.
Feminists moved us from the coming of age, over the threshold of adolesence into our twenties, when we could be radical, experimental, lesbians, angry and politicised.

But then comes the wisdom of the childbearing years and maturity. The energy of our ego formation dissipates and we find our way fully into our selves. The change in energy is palpable. There are transformations in how we understand ourselves and relate to the world. We face new challenges and struggles negotiating the traditional realities of a woman's world of marriage, domesticity and motherhood, which we find ourselves immersed in, despite our previous beliefs that we were modern women living in a modern way. We suddenly find old knowings, needs and wisdoms activated in our bodies, a greater connection to other women, a need for a supportive sisterhood and desire for ways to nurture this, to move beyond our culture, our conditioning, our mother's struggles.

So what to call ourselves, when we move beyond "-isms", and alienation and into ourselves?

How about women?
Some like to spell it womyn... but not me!

Women who have women's groups, women's circles, women's wisdom, women's bodies, women's ways, women's intuition. And women who love men. And children. And our sisters, in blood and in DNA. Women who are connected to Mother Earth.

Women who weep, and celebrate, and reflect, and create, and think, and dream, and love, love, love a new way of living into existence, one which can sustain and nurture us all who are lucky to call this beautiful earth our home.


  1. As you probably know, I do call myself a feminist, and have done so since I first learned the word. I've been thinking a lot about why claiming that word, "feminist," matters to me. It's a way of acknowledging — and proclaiming — that yes, there still is much work to do and that yes, that work matters. Some people (though not you) who reject the term "feminist" are, I think, also rejecting the work of feminism.

    As for feminism and mothering — I've been reading bits from the anthology Feminist Mothering, and I highly recommend it.

  2. Hi Rachael,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and to share your difference of opinion - I have heard of others who disagreed but didn't feel right voicing it here. I made some really angry! I am still on the fence on this one, but come down, just, on the side I stated. I have bits of Feminist Mothering somewhere on a blog online... I am still in two minds. But I do find the 'old' feminist model to be denying of my mothering feelings, my desire to raise my own children and my love of cooking. But I do strongly feel we have so much further to go in terms of womens rights across the board, the fight is not over, but perhaps it needs a different banner? Just finished reading Ina May Gaskin's newest book Birth Matters - she does a great job of combining maternity and the feminist fight and really putting together a new call to arms for our generation. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  3. I missed a reading with Gaskin when that book came out. And it was hosted by the birth center where I gave birth! But, the story of my life these days, I was scrambling to meet a deadline the next day.

    The book has been added to my "to-read" list.

  4. I think the contemporary understanding of feminism has been hijacked to apply to this group of women you describe that verge on extremism when it comes to women's rights.

    For me, feminism is about equality and choice - an equal but different (and uniquely feminine) footing for women so that we stand side by side men working together not pushing and fighting. I consider feminism to be the free right to choose whatever is best for women and their families. The right to work in paid employment, the right to not work in paid employment and be the primary caregiver to their children in the home. The right to equal pay in the workplace, the right to equal status in the home. The right to be a mother and to not be mother and have both of those things perfectly acceptable. I don't want to be a female version of a male but I want the same opportunities to live my life as I choose without constraint. For all those reasons I'm proud to be a feminist.

    My blood bubbles alright when I hear some feminists talk about how motherhood is the enemy of feminism. I feel they're missing the point. They seem to be marching down a road of being "just like the men" in a man's world. Motherhood is uniquely woman and mothering the way we choose a powerful feminist statement.



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