Everyday Feminism is a sub-series in Clear the Way’s Feminist Fridays. Each month I ask contributors to share how they act out their feminism in their everyday lives. The purpose of this series is to showcase the beauty, variety, and depth of feminism as a daily choice. Everyone “does feminism” differently and Gillian from Chez Gillian is here today to share her feminism.
I’d like to start with a little background on how I found my feminism before I jump into sharing my “brand” of it (for lack of a better word). I needed to take a gender studies or ethnic studies class to fulfill a requirement and I chose a Women’s Studies class that fit into my schedule. Throughout the course we read bell hooks’ “Feminism is for Everybody” and it was, for me, the perfect introduction to what feminism is all about. I love this book and bell hooks’ straight-forward approach to feminist theory. I also loved the structure of the course, it was mostly small student-led discussions on how this theory fit into each student’s unique life experience. To me, that is a big part of what feminism is about. Looking at the world not only from the lense of your own life experiences but to be conscious of and conscientious of the life experiences of others whether they be similar to or drastically different from your own.
In recent months it’s become increasingly clear to me that every person has their own view of feminism, just as every person has their own religious beliefs whether she be hindu or christian or atheist. More specifically there are differences between individuals within each major religious sect; and similarly, under the umbrella of feminism, there are so many different takes on it- and that’s okay. It all comes back to how each person’s experiences shape their worldview in a unique way. When I call myself a feminist I am saying: “I believe that men and women should be treated equally”. I understand that some people hear the word “feminist” and translate it to mean “I think women are better than men” or “I hate men”. Just as some people hear the word “christian” and hear “I judge others” or “I am better than you”. I grew up in the Christian church and I’ve had some negative experiences that allow me to see how those impressions could come about. I have also had some amazingly positive experiences in the church and when I hear the word “christian” I take all this into consideration and think “this person believes in Jesus Christ as their savior.”
I hope that people can understand that there are many different views of feminism and be more open to asking about those views. In anything in life I think it is important to look beyond your own view and your own experiences. Feminism to me is about embracing the stories of others. It is about approaching the world from a place of seeking peace and justice for all regardless of gender.