I joined up with a group of people who want to do a group project called “Ask a Feminist”. The basic premise, as I understand it, is that various people will ask questions they’ve “always” wanted to ask a feminist, and the various feminists, all of whom come from different backgrounds and ideas, will answer them.
I’m really quite interested in this project, as one of my main frustrations with discussing feminism with people is that I’m suddenly expected to defend everything any feminist has ever said or done for the past 30 years, as though all feminists everywhere not only have a Hive Mind, but we walk in lockstep together and never have difference experiences or interpretations of the same event. It also, of course, leads to people saying things like “Oh, I like lipstick, thus I <i>can’t</i> be a Feminist, because feminism doesn’t allow lipstick wearing.”
For myself, I have two things that say “this person is a feminist” to me. The fundamental belief that women are people and men are neither monsters nor children; and self-identifying as a feminist. It may be that I secretly think most of the people on my flist are Feminists, but if none of you have said “I am a feminist”, I’m not going to force the label on you.
After that, though, it becomes more in depth. At the moment, my focus and energies are going into dealing with issues of poverty and issues of disability & accessibility. I like to read about women in comics. I want to read more about women in Fandom and in the media, and want to write more about issues of racism in the media. I am beginning to read more about Third World Feminism. I like general media criticism, and things like “Killing us Softly”, a documentary on how advertising uses women. I have many and varied thoughts on the issue of sex work, and try and read as much as possible about it, from people opposed, people in favour, women working in the industry, etc. Womanism is something I want to understand more of, so I’m reading and reading and reading because a lot of it is based in the US and for all that we share a common border, I do not understand racial issues there. I’m excited because my local feminist bookstore has many books dealing with racism and sexism around First Nations people. Queer & Trans issues are being brought to my attention more often now, especially with Trans being closely related to the Disability Blogosphere, and I’m finding a lot of my assumptions on “safe” questioned.
I’m not sure if everyone and everything I read would identify as feminist, but each of those topics has branches that work within feminism, and there are many more. Many of them take issues and don’t agree on them in the slightest, as there isn’t one overall solution that will magically make all our problems go away. It’s complicated, and whereas I do think there are some very legitimate concerns about main-stream feminism, I think a great many problems are caused not by what the majority of feminists do or think, but by how the media portrays feminism. (I have been doing a lot of critical thinking about the media this week. It’s certainly not an issue unique to feminism, but I will save that discussion for Monday.)
The point of all this is that I’m very excited about the idea of working with people on this project, and I would like to encourage others to participate, through the asking of questions.
If you could ask a group of feminists anything, what would you ask?
My personal questions about feminism have a lot to do with the history, of course. I want a better timeline on how Women’s Shelters came into being. I want to have a better understanding of where this concept of “The Lavender Menace” came from, and how one combats the past. I want to know where the feminists in my life stand on issues like accessibility, and Gay Marriage, and Queer Adoptions. I’m always up for a spirited discussion on Women’s Only Spaces, both for and against them, both in public and in private. I want to better understand the racial issues outside of my personal sphere, and get a better bead on what is happening. I like asking feminists for book recommendations.
But, what are your thoughts? What would you ask?
(*My random sense of humour now has the theme from “Ask a Ninja” running through my head.)