This is what a feminist looks like

26 Mar

This is what a feminist looks like

What is it to be feminist?  Who has the right to this title?

It is a serious question; we know just how serious because feminists have been repeatedly asked it for many years.

To be a feminist is to be defined as a feminist.  We must describe, justify, and defend our beliefs, no matter whether the questioner is attacking us or merely intrigued, and as a feminist network which purports to bring together a united group of women, a definition is demanded from this gathering as a whole.  Who may join?  What do we believe?  What is that we fight for?  What action do we take? What are the rules?

The ‘rules’ of feminism have always been a matter of great consternation to those who are reluctant to call themselves ‘feminist’ – and, indeed, to many who are not.  Yet, I must apologise to those who wonder; this gathering of women who met on a rainy Wednesday evening offered up no solution.

Looking around the room (or yurt, as it in fact was), the women who crammed together on tatty sofas, squeezing in just one more – and then another again – came from a variety of countries, ethnicities, political persuasions, sexualities, social classes, and, perhaps most excitingly, varied age groups (after all, ‘Breaking the Waves’ was our initial desire).  We got angry, we laughed, we sympathised, we talked, and we listened.  We also debated and there were times when we did not agree.  There were as many different ideas of feminism in the room as there were feminists, and yet the respect in the room was palpable.

This is what feminists look like.

We did not come together with rules and we did not demand set beliefs.  Differing or even clashing interpretations were aired and received with respect.  It was a wonderful thing to experience.

One of the greatest barriers yet to be overcome in the feminist movement is the dispute in society about feminist identity.  People feel they are unable or unwilling to be part of a movement that at times can seem divisive, exclusive, radical, or extremist.  Ideologies with these traits certainly exist in feminism, as in any part of society, but they are parts of a vast meshing of thought that encompasses immeasurable diversity.  Whoever you are and whatever your individual beliefs; if you wonder about being a feminist, then it is likely that you are a feminist, and therefore we welcome you to the Cardiff Feminist Network.

In conclusion, I offer a summary of what my feminism looks like:

For women, for society.

See you on the 7th!



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