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Defining feminism and accessibility

pialamode314's picture

One thing that I have been finding in this class, and especially after our discussion last Thursday, is that it's almost becoming harder for me to define feminism itself and what makes something feminist. On one hand, this is a little frustrating since for the longest time I've always known exactly what I believed as a feminist, but on the other hand, the fact that I am hearing all these new sides to feminism and other people's relationship with the feminist movement has been expanding my views and is probably a good thing. For example, I've known that the feminist movement is dominated by the voices of white women, but I never put too much thought to it simply because I, being a privileged white woman, never felt the negative effects of that. However, some of the discussions we've had in this class have come back to that fact, and it has opened my eyes to some of the race issues within the feminist movement and has caused me to really struggle with defining something (e.g. a text like Persepolis) as feminist or not. In thinking about all this and wrestling with a working definition of feminism for myself, I've found myself coming back to thinking about accessibility. I am a very passionate feminist and I enjoy being challenged by all of these different views and definitions of feminism, but as wonderful as that is, not being unified in a basic definition probably makes it very hard for many people who are unfamiliar with these issues to relate to feminism. I understand the dangers of being "too accessible," and mistaking challenging ideas or texts as being "too elitist" (as Anne quoted from Jeanette Winterson), but at what point does that sort of thinking hurt the progress of feminism in the world? Despite what we talked about in class about accessibility and how we shouldn't feel entitled to understanding, in the case of a movement where the goal is to spread awareness amongst people who are ignorant to the issues and make change, I think there is a lot to be said about the benefits of making ideas and texts accessible. So wrapping this back around to how I started, is the fact that feminism is so hard for feminists themselves to define making even some basic feminist ideals inaccessible to a broader audience and acting as a roadblock to the feminist movement? I really don't know - it's just a question I find very hard to answer.