Welcome to Geek Word Wednesdays, where members of Girls Got Game! will be featuring common terms relevant to geeks everywhere, and to a more critical discussion on geek identity, geek culture, and geek discourse. If you’ve ever got a word that you’d like us to study, let us know!
This week’s edition of Geek Word Wednesdays is different from the usual. After a lot of intense discussion, the members of Girls Got Game have decided to collaborate on this article. Each one the contributors is going to go into their own definition of feminism below. Feminism and gender studies mean a lot to us, and we all acknowledge that it’s impossible to have a “one-size-fits-all” definition for both.
Without further ado, this is what we came up with.
Feminism is about promoting equality, regardless of gender, while also acknowledging that females throughout history and up to the present are ignored/marginalized just for being female. It’s the idea that women are human beings that deserve to have agency and be treated with respect.
A lot of people say that feminists are just angry women who hate men. Well, I am a feminist, and I am angry, but not at men. I’m angry that, globally, women still earn less than men. I’m angry that women are underrepresented in leadership roles, both in business and in government. I’m angry that women who are victims of sexual abuse are stigmatized and blamed for their attackers’ actions. But what angers me the most is that many people won’t take my anger seriously because I am a woman.
“We cannot expect in the immediate future that all women who seek it will achieve full equality of opportunity. But if women are to start moving towards that goal, we must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed.” – Medical Physicist, Rosalyn Yalow, awarded the Nobel prize in 1977
First of all, I want to frame my perspective for you: My brothers and I grew up in an environment where it was traditional because it’s what our parents knew and understood, and non-traditional because our parents believed in what we could do.
So whenever I came across people — family, friends and strangers — who would say things like: “I can’t believe your brother loves ballet and knows all the terminologies! It’s a little weird!”, or “I’m surprised that your brother knows more chick flicks than I do,” I use to get really surprised. To me, those comments sounded exactly the same as people going “But why do you like superheroes and geek stuff, that’s a guy thing! You’re such a boy!” and “Isn’t hockey such a rough sport, I can’t picture someone as tiny and as girly as you being interested in it.” You see, to siblings who never believed there were gender-specific labels to what we could like or do, comments like that made us feel like our thinking was so radical — it wasn’t.
I’ve always felt incredulous over gender stereotypes. While I used to only be vocal about my thoughts in safe company, I’m more vocal about my thoughts on that now, regardless of who is listening. So while I’m not repeating anything that people haven’t said before, the fact of the matter is: there continues to be a lot of resistance to the idea that girls can do a lot of things boys can, just as there’s a lot of resistance to ideas of what boys should be. I think that’s unfair for everyone involved.
Feminism has always been about equality of all genders and all orientations — whether you’re straight, identify as LGBTQ+, or are still figuring yourself out. I get very touchy when there are “movements” that claim that feminist attitudes couldn’t possibly benefit people outside of the Angry Feminist and that some people actually believe that to be true. What’s wrong about being outspoken about not wanting to be boxed in by limitations that people try to justify using your biological sex, or your sexual orientation, or the color of your skin, your place of birth and the life experiences that make you uniquely you? I’d be angry. I AM. I’m a person. I just want to be able to breathe.
Quoting feminist writer and editor Marie Shear, Cheris Kramarae, a professor of Women’s Studies said: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” I agree with her. I’d also like to tweak that statement given the way the world works now because to me, feminism is the radical notion that human beings — women, men, straight, gay — are human beings, period.
Feminism is the belief that people should not be forced into compartments based on what they have in between their legs.
It’s unfathomable – and rather absurd, really – that women are shamed for choosing their career over marriage and raising a family, but other women are similarly looked down on for choosing to be stay-at-home moms. It also sucks that men are ridiculed for being stay-at-home dad or for daring to be emotional. Moreover, their masculinity is put into question when they defer to their wives (“under sa asawa”, as the Philippine expression goes). Whatever happened to live and let live as long as no one gets hurt in the process? (People’s fragile sensibilities on traditional gender roles don’t fall under that category.)
Feminism is not about man-hating nor should it be used as a bubble to shield oneself from criticism. Being a feminist entails being open to dialogue about subjects uncomfortable to either or both sexes in the name of progress and unity. It’s about educating each other and growing from it, no matter how inconvenient some truths may be.
I’m a feminist and I’m proud to be one. If reading that makes you uncomfortable, isn’t it time to examine why?