Monday, October 02, 2006

5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me

This meme was started by progressive bloggers and Jeff at where'd that bug go as a way of showing support for the Status of Women Canada. Along the way, it became something more -- a revelation of different perspectives on the impact of feminism and reminder of how much it's enriched our lives. Unfortunately, the battle still goes on. There's a minor backlash from women who don't seem to realize that even the fact they're able to post anti-feminist opinions online is in some part due to feminism. But like my 12-year-old niece who can't imagine a world without Ipod and instant messaging, they take for granted what they've always had. Rant over, list as follows:

1. The advent of feminism allowed me to be among the first generation of women who weren't automatically expected to get married and have kids as soon as we graduated. We wanted more from the world, and the world wanted more from us.

2. Because of feminism, I was encouraged to look inward and really know myself; not just what was expected of me, but what I expected of myself. Feminism allowed me to raise the bar on my expectations, and not be afraid to try. It gave me the courage to do constructive things like launching a career, and crazy things like driving to Mexico. It allowed me to say "I can do it".

3. Feminism allowed me to have a voice in the world, to speak my mind and be listened to as an equal, rather than shunted aside. Feminism gave credibiltiy to the thoughts and opinions of women.

4. Because of Feminism, I've always had reproductive freedom. This has personal significance to me -- because I had the right to choose, I was allowed to chart my life's course rather than having it charted for me. I'm old enough to remember coathanger abortions, so the right to choose is something I cherish. Anyone who thinks that women will relinquish this right easily had better think again. The courage to stand and fight is another gift of feminism.

5. Feminism taught me to respect and appreciate diversity. As women were discovering themselves as individuals, we found out that we all had our differences, and that differences were not something to fear, but to celebrate. This may be the greatest gift of feminism, because ultimately it's the one that will save the world.

I also thought about posting 5 things the lack of feminism did for my mother, but I'll just reiterate something I posted previously. Because of the lack of feminism in my mother's time, she was trapped with an abusive husband who beat her and terrorized her on a weekly basis. There were no shelters or support, options we enjoy today because of feminism. Back then, divorce wasn't an option a woman would normally choose because of the economic impact -- alimony and child support weren't enforced the way they are today, thanks to feminism. And sadly, even if she'd been able to leave the marriage, without a restraining order (which we can now get against an abusive spouse, thanks to feminism), my father would have hunted her down and killed her, or so he said.

Feminism has grown and changed over the years as womens' needs adapt, and not everyone agrees all the time with the directions it takes. But that's why it's so important for all women to remain part of a constructive dialogue on feminism, and to always remember what it's done for us.

Bonus: Salient comments from a first nations perspective, from Scout at Harper-Valley.