Informal Feminism

{January 3, 2011}   My Hopes for a New Year

A New Year has begun. I have had trouble this week facing my first bout of writer’s block, so soon I know. Today I offered to help my best friend by babysitting her baby daughter, she is almost 11 months old will be a year in February. I was there the day she was born, her parents came to pick me up on the way to the hospital, what can I say we are close. My friend was almost delivering when I got in the car. Ten minutes after we got the hospital she was pushing and two hours later there was a new addition to all of our lives. Since then my friends have been raising this child with a lot of help from friends and family and their daughter is much loved.

The reason that I am writing about this event is because I want to talk about my hopes for her future. As her auntie and a feminist I want her to be granted every opportunity possible. She should have the ability to become whatever it is she chooses and be able to do that without facing discrimination. In order for her to be able to do that we need to keep challenging social issues and as a feminist I believe the work of my discipline is integral part of this.

With the New Year upon us I want to say the work done in the field of feminism research over the past year has been amazing to learn about. Women have been working hard to challenge issues and oppose and expose the oppression that we face. On the other side of this though is there have been many problems exposed as well that show the exploitation and oppression that women are still facing. Women still face issues in terms of pay scale and safety in the workplace and their community. Women face violence and discrimination every day in many different forms.

There is an issue I see within feminism that hinders the fight unfortunately. There are many divides within the discipline. When I was in school we learned about the different types of feminist theory, which in my opinion is very important. It is important that a theory is challenged and re-organized to create space for different cultures and ideologies. However, what seems to happen is that feminists become hung up on challenging the opinions of other feminists instead of finding a way to work together to create change.

To quote Ani DeFranco, “I will not rest a wink until women have regrouped” (Alla This). When I heard this lyric it struck me, knowing what I know about women’s struggles and issues. I agree completely, which was one of the reasons I began this blog in the first place. I think this applies to my earlier discussion about the different types of feminism, as well as to the people who need to be educated on women’s issues. Because I feel that the only way we are going to make a large scale impact is to put aside the differences in the ideologies. This does not mean that I think the differences should be discarded all together because they are very important but that we need to find a way to work past them and together. In doing this we can find a space to access more people and share our knowledge with them.

When I went to Trent I was a tour guide for couple of years. Every time I had a group of high school students I would encourage all of them to take 1st year women’s studies. I did this because when I was in 1st year women’s studies I saw so many people who didn’t know anything about the discrimination that women faced regularly. This was one way that I had to attempt to open peoples mind to the issues but more needs to be done. University is a very privileged environment, many people will not go because of financial issues and lack of opportunity. Women’s studies and feminism is an issue that I only was able to fully grasp when I was there. This is unfortunate because more people need to be exposed to these values and ideologies in my opinion. We are keeping this invaluable information locked in an ivory tower, where only certain individuals can access it and that is terrifying to me. I think what feminist need to do is work together and find a way to give free access to this information to the public, like the miss. G project is trying to do by getting women’s/gender studies into high schools.

Back to the reason I began this post, I want my friend’s daughter to have every opportunity. Trying to find a way to provide access to this knowledge is the starting point of this journey. We have to give our next generation of women the ability to fight the challenges they may face and that begins by fighting now. Regrouping and finding a way to expose more people to feminist theory is my hope for the New Year. We have faced so many challenges and overcome so many obstacles as women already but that doesn’t mean we are finished. What I hope to see in 2011 another year of women accomplishing great things and challenging our social ideologies. Because if we keep fighting then the girls who are babies now will grow up to be smart, accomplished and comfortable with themselves and their ability to make a difference and promote change.


Diana Surman says:

I love your blog, Liz

As I read I continue to shake my head up and down in agreement.

It is true that women seem to fight against one another. One simple example that comes to mind is stay-at-home moms(should be working-at-home moms)verses working moms (should be working outside-the-home moms.) As a working-at-home mom until my son was ten, I often felt the disapproval of other women – being LAZY comes to mind – what do you do with your time? Oh please!! Like you mentioned we need to work together to bring about change.

As you write about your friend’s daughter – being a mother I immediately think about my son. I have said this many times over the years, “we have to teach our sons to respect women and this process begins from birth.” As I watch my son transform from a young boy to a young adult to a “soon-to-be” on his own “man” I hope my husband and I have done our job.

My point being along with women respecting women – men need to respect women, all of which begins in the home. I think back to what a great job my mom did – she is 76 and a feminist – she raised (along with my dad, of course) three children, two sons and myself. I remember having wonderful conversations with her about women/men/relationships etc. What always came through was how important it was to respect yourself and to respect others.

I will continue to have important conversations with my son in hopes that he will carry on the process in his relationships throughout his lifetime.

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