Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

My definition of feminism

Maya's picture

When I started this class, I thought I had a basic idea of what feminism means and I considered myself a strong feminist. However, I don't think I ever really tried to define femism. I came at it one situation at a time and just dealt with that specific situation the way I thought best (which, thinking back on it, might not have been the best way). For example, many women like when men hold doors open for them. I also believe that holding doors open for other people is a very courteous thing to do. If I get to the door first, I usually hold it open for the person behind me. However, I do not like the idea that men hold doors open for me just because I am a woman. If I arrive at the door first they try and hold the door open for me, or they backtrack and let me go through the door first just because I am a woman. At one point I was holding the door open for some people and a man came up behind me and told me to go first. I told him no, at first, but he insisted, so I just gave in and walked through the door. I don't understand why he thought that was being polite because I certainly did not find it polite. Many times in high school people have told me I am too much of a feminist. I did not know what to make of this because I felt like I was a feminist, but not one who questioned every small thing a man does for sexist content. I would insist that people call Bryn Mawr a women's college and not a girl's school and would willingly explain why, but most people would just shrug this off and the next time, make the same mistake and call it a girl's school. Feminism is defined by the person, which does make it hard for people to unite behind one central idea. Some people could be defined as being more radical feminists and so they don't want to be grouped with people who are not as radical. Creating a definition of femisim is a like creating a dead-end one-way road. People want the freedom to define their own type of femisim, but if nobody can agree on one definition, uniting behind the movement can be hard.