Thursday, November 29, 2012

MISS Defines Feminism

MISS has been building a dialogue this fall bringing up many issues that are affecting our friends, family, community, and society. Throughout our blog you may be seeing feminism or feminist discourse pop up. I thought it would be good to get some of MISS’ thoughts on feminism out and on the internet.
In sociology Feminism is defined as a way of viewing society in which gender pervades all aspects. I agree with this because I think in our society a majority of things are seen in the two categories of female and male. Feminism as a movement has been through many different phases. I will provide a brief history of feminism to my knowledge so you can see the evolution of thought that has happened and how the current paradigm of feminism came to be.

Feminism is thought to have originated in the early 1900’s with Women’s Suffrage. This was the first instance of women joining together to demand rights that men had had for a long time. With women’s suffrage, women gained, most notably, the right to vote. 

Second wave Feminism happened later in the century when women wanted equal treatment in the workplace. More and more women were seeking careers and alternative lifestyles to the stay at home roles that had been the norm in the past but were not treated the same. In this movement women joined together on the sole basis of womanhood and did not acknowledge differences between women of different cultures. This wave was focused on equal treatment for women, was successful in gaining rights for women in the workplace, but excluded women of color.

Third wave feminism brought intersectionality to the movement, and is the most current ideology of the movement. Third wave feminism recognizes that gender pervades all aspects of social life but that women are not the only people oppressed, and that not all women are oppressed in the same way. It recognizes differences of culture and differences in the meaning of gender. Third wave feminism is a movement for equality for all people, and breaking down the ideas that society tries to confine us to (such as Tony Porter’s “man box”).

MISS is a feminist movement in the way that we seek equality for all people. We are not focused on a feminist agenda, but we do use some third wave feminist dialogue to discuss issues affecting our people. Bell hooks, the author of “The Will to Change” being reviewed in Men for Miss is a famous third wave feminist, writing in a feminist perspective on the issues of race, gender, and education. I am currently studying indigenous feminism for a research paper and hope to post more about that in the future.  I have been looking at the works of Andrea Smith, one of the more published indigenous feminists. Here is a quote from a piece by her talking about the real history of true feminism:

The feminist movement is generally periodized into the so-called first, second and third waves of feminism. In the United States, the first wave is characterized by the suffragette movement; the second wave is characterized by the formation of the National Organization for Women, abortion rights politics, and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendments. Suddenly, during the third wave of feminism, women of colour make an appearance to transform feminism into a multicultural movement.
This periodization situates white middle-class women as the central historical agents to which women of colour attach themselves. However, if we were to recognize the agency of indigenous women in an account of feminist history, we might begin with 1492 when Native women collectively resisted colonization. This would allow us to see that there are multiple feminist histories emerging from multiple communities of colour which intersect at points and diverge in others. This would not negate the contributions made by white feminists, but would de-center them from our historicizing and analysis.

If you are interested in feminism and how it relates to Native communities I’d suggest checking out the whole article that can be found here:

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