Feminist Friday – defining feminism

I began with a search of my university library for books on feminism. What I was looking for was the definitive text that wrapped all you would ever need to know about feminism into a handful of easy to read chapters. I discovered that much has been written about feminism and feminist theory, yet attempts to provide an all-encompassing definition of feminism seem to fail. This is because there are so many different viewpoints and objectives and it is seemingly impossible to draw all these strands together. I also couldn’t help thinking that too much of it was either homespun words of wisdom (each of which are valid in their own way, I might add) and hopelessly bogged down in academic jargon that only the initiated can decipher it.

It was while reading all this material over the past year—and just to be clear, I am in the second year of my degree in creative writing but I’m doing a submajor in women’s studies—that I came to the conclusion that trying to define feminism is the wrong question.

I think such attempts at defining feminism are a distraction created by a patriarchal need for a definition so that it can be refuted. How can a movement be taken seriously if it can’t be defined? If feminists can’t even agree with each other then how can society expect to change? How many times have you heard these questions thrown out there?

But that lack of definition is exactly what makes feminism so important—because it does encompass a broad range of views, all of which are aimed at identifying and removing sexist attitudes in society.

The lack of definition is what makes feminism so feared and hated by many. They just can’t get their heads around a concept that doesn’t sit neatly within a patriarchal way of viewing the world. It breaks their rules and they don’t like it.

Whatever the definition, there is a common thread of inequalities and injustices in women’s social position and campaigning to raise awareness and change that social position is what my feminism is all about.

Have a happy feminist Friday




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