It’s the last week of March, and so the last of the weekly posts that lots of people have been writing as part of the feminist Fashion Bloggers group. This week’s topic is, broadly, about what we’ve learned from other women and other feminists. I’ve got an unfortunately large pile of marking that needs to be done, and thus a short amount of time for blogging, so this will be brief.
Perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learned from feminists is that there is no one Right Feminism. There is no one experience of life as a woman, and as such there is no one feminism that reflects that experience. What I experience as a middle class, white, straight cis gendered woman is very, very different than what a working class, black, queer, trans woman would experience, and so our perspectives on feminism are probably going to be very different. The is really obvious on the one hand — of course people have different experiences, and of course that’s going to shape their worldview differently, and that I grasped very naturally, but the logical extension of that (that there is no One Feminism) took a long time to really sink in. For a long time, I thought that there was A Feminism that I needed to aspire to, though I didn’t have an especially good grasp of what it was or who was the grand Thinker who’d set out this Feminism. I didn’t take any women’s studies classes in university, I can’t rattle off names of feminist theorists who shape the organized feminist schools of thought, and I have a tenuous grasp of where the divisions are and who sits where in relation to them. I had this notion that there was A Feminism because I didn’t feel like I had any business saying “this is what I think feminism is and isn’t,” because I hadn’t read the canon and know all the ins and outs of the important philosophical texts.
But it only ever made sense to me that feminism was centred on individuals, rather than broad groups and philosophical texts, because people get lost in large groups, and a feminism where people get lost in the shuffle doesn’t seem very feminist to me. The people who get lost in the shuffle are not, by and large, the straight middle class white women — they’re the working class women, the women of colour, the queer women, the disabled women, the trans women, etc. And thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can find feminists who don’t look like me and read about their perspectives and feminisms. I can see plainly in front of me that there’s plenty of women who walk the talk, but disagree on what the talk is — and that doesn’t make them any less feminist than the women whose feminisms look very similar.
The parallel to the deep grasp of a multitude of feminisms is that there’s no one way to dress, either, and reading all your various blogs (and writing and thinking about it here) has very adeptly illustrated that. It’s freeing to realize that there’s no set way I’m “supposed” to be dressing, and it sounds silly that it took me a while to consciously acknowledge that, but I think I knew it all along — I just needed a push in the right direction. So thanks, you lovely women (and men?) who populate this corner of the internet, for being fabulous and often vocally feminist.