Written by Lindsay Whisen, CEO at Ease Up – the Organizing Experts
It troubles me that feminism has such a negative, mainstream connotation that implies man-hating, bra-burning lesbians. I discovered I had long-been a feminist at the University of Toronto as an adult learner. I discovered that feminism is the ability to recognize systemic and socially constructed inequality across all social plains. I discovered that feminism is a commitment to live life in ways that try to right historic and unjust imbalances of power. This not only applies to gendered power imbalances, but power imbalances that exist within differing sexual orientation, race, religion, originating status, physical appearance, social status, economic status, marital status, political affiliation, social class, age, geographic location and differing ability – Yeah! It encompasses all of that.
I must make it clear that the term feminism did not emerge from the angry desire to overthrow man as the powerful elite (although, that is often a ‘lay-over’ in the journey toward being a feminist). It is called feminism because the realization of inequality emerged through the emotional and intellectual work of women. Women who were unknowingly oppressed, because their experience was the social norm, questioned and deconstructed their own, very real experiences of inequality. Once women did this for themselves, it was natural for them to discover its applications to other, even more disenfranchised groups. It was (and still is) an act of courage for women to take a risk, to share and to work through their feelings and experiences with fellow women.
I ask you to think about women birthing babies for a moment. Women labour. Women do the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, painstaking work necessary to deliver that baby out of their body. No one would ever give the partner, the nurses, the midwife or the doctor working around her, the credit for that work. Women birth babies so women get the credit. Women’s risky, rigorous and explorative work birthed equality and so women get the credit – that’s why it is called feminism. In the exact same way, a doctor by the name Georgios Papanikolaou developed a useful way to detect signs of cervical cancer, and he gets the credit – his work is the reason we all get our regular, life-preserving Pap Tests.
One of the most beautiful things about feminism, when at its best, is that it is collaborative, not competitive. It aims to truly listen to individual’s experiences, seeking to truly understand, respect and legitimize their thoughts and feelings so that people can grow in their ability to accept, love and celebrate everyone. In short, I like to think about feminism as the most wonderful, smart and loving parent – for the entire world – and there is nothing offensive about that.
The truth is, right now, this world needs every form of feminist – from the extreme bra-burning activist to the most traditional housewife. Every form of feminist should know that they are completely legitimate and useful for the cause of equality in the way they express feminism. We must not focus on how we are different. We must not get caught up in who is ‘doing’ feminism right or wrong. We must focus on the belief that, at the core of all feminism, we need women across all areas of the social and cultural spectrum to work together to enact social change towards equality for all.
Lindsay Whisen is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Brampton, Ontario. She is the Founder & CEO of Ease Up – The Organizing Experts, where, with the trusted Ease Up Method and fantastic people, your space is set-up to support your greatest efficiency and wellness. You will know what you have, see what you have, and be able to access it & put it away with ease. Stop wasting your precious resources: Your space, belongings, money, time, energy and sanity. It can be easier.