Feminist Histories - A Reflection
After reading sections from both Feminism Unfinished and Feminism is for Everybody, I find myself angry. Angry, that in the entirety of my educational career never once was I told the whole story, hell, any part of the story, of how women gained –no, took their rights. That, in and of itself has lead me to be enthralled and emotionally overwhelmed with this massive influx of knowledge on the history of my gender and feminist thinking. The feminist movement, while far from over, has come a long ways since it’s small start almost 100 years ago, but everything they fought for in the beginning is relevant still today as are the practices developed through their endeavors. It is my belief that the slogan “The personal is political” was born from women gathering and talking about their day-to-day lives and discovering painful similarities within their stories due to the societal sexist agenda –the idea that men were superior. This practice developed into consciousness raising groups, “consciousness-raising emphasized the importance of learning about patriarchy as a system of domination… Understanding the way male domination and sexism was expressed in everyday life created awareness in women” (hooks, 2015, pg 7).
These groups provided a safe space for women to share their feelings and experiences, as well as a platform for women to learn from other women, “Only through discussion and disagreement could we begin to find a realistic standpoint on gender exploitation and oppression. ” (hooks, 2015, pg 8). By voicing their personal feelings of oppression, disrespect, and sexist limitations women were able to band together, support each other, and challenge society’s accepted sexist ‘norms’, “Women’s raised consciousness changed everyday experience, transforming relations with fathers, mothers, siblings, boyfriends, husbands… It was consciousness raising that made the women’s liberation movement different” (L. Gordon, 2014, pg 81).
Feminist consciousness-raising was critical to the success of the movement because of the roll it played in bringing women together and opening the doors to societal development. Was there an equivalent type of setting prior the term ‘consciousness-raising’ being coined? Well I just don’t know, but I’d like to believe that women realized that their lives were being regulated and controlled by men and spoke out about it. Maybe they didn’t go public with their plights, but I have to believe that women always knew they were their own persons despite what popular culture said. In today’s society women are still fighting for equality –in the workplace and at home. I believe feminist histories and thinking should be taught in a public setting available to people of all ages, races, and genders –this history needs to be normalized. Future generations should not have to sign up for ‘women’s study’ courses in order to learn about the feminist movements, these are the histories of HALF of our population. Until society completely accepts these facts and adopts ‘feminist thinking’ simply as ‘thinking’ there is still an opportunity for small groups to organize and discuss the mistreatment, belittlement, and discrimination they face in. Gordon quotes feminist Pam Allen on her saying that, “Personal liberation will happen simultaneously with the changing of society, not independently. ” (L. Gordon, 2014, pg 84) this reigns true today because one person cannot change the world, but a group of people can challenge others to do better.
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