The following post first appeared on So to Speak blog.
I don’t have a firm definition of feminism. I have an emotional understanding. Feminism as a verb, noun, adjective, with a short descriptive sentence—I draw a blank, but wish I could share the images in my mind with you.
One image: A person holding a floating jellyfish with one tentacle as a balloon string, like feminism is this beautiful ethereal, living, and surviving creature that also stings.
I know. That’s kind of weird. A former poetry & blog editor of a feminist magazine who currently curates a feminist blog, and self-proclaims feminism on a daily inter-personal and inter-net basis can’t give a proper response. I know, I know.
But I guess, in the same way that poetry’s definition freely extends from lyric to narrative, to prose, to strict traditional form, so can my feminism. I don’t yet know my truest understanding of feminism, but I am engaged in a full fledge career of finding it out, and I assume this will take a long time. Time is the point, though. Time allows us, when we are honest and dedicate the leeway to question and search, try and fail and try again, to feel proud of our accomplishments. So far in my life experiences, I have some ideas of where really empowering feminism is taking place, and I have some ideas as to where I find my feminist call: through positive feminist education for our children and online venues. Post-MFA you will find me working primarily in these fields, and the best part of it all is that it is super, duper fun.
To compliment my lack of a proper feminist definition I’ve been collecting old-school bell hooks quotes—that apply more than ever today—to keep in our back pockets and integrate into future conversations.
She says: Women should “bond with other women on the basis of shared strengths and resources. This is the woman bonding feminist movement should encourage. It is this type of bonding that is essence of Sisterhood.”
A single definition of Sisterhood, like a single definition of feminism, can be complicated because we’re all so diverse, but diversity does not mean we can’t be empathic and broaden our horizons.
“Racism teaches an inflated sense of importance and value, especially when coupled with class privilege. Most poor and working class women or even individual bourgeois non-white women would not have assumed that they could launch a feminist movement without first having the support and participation of diverse groups of women.”
When working with StS the essence of this quote has been hugely important to me. I’ve wanted a richly diversified demographic in our poetry section and on our blog. Of course I could have done better, but I believe with my beginning steps I helped quieter voices become braver and speak louder.
Much feminist rhetoric implies “that men ha(ve) nothing to gain by feminist movement, that its success would make them losers.”
We’ve also reached out far and wide to help men feel 100% a part of our feminist goals. As always, together we are stronger. I hope StS feels like a safe place for men and transgendered individuals. And if it doesn’t, please reach out and support us in doing better.
“Feminist movement can end the war between the sexes. It can transform relationships so that the alienation, competition, and dehumanization that characterize human interaction can be replaced with feelings of intimacy, mutuality, and camaraderie.”
Equality activism has many names: peace, humanitarianism, environmentalism, feminism. At the core of So to Speak’s activism is the representation of the many names of equality through writing and a focus on gender and sexuality. I was drawn to StSbecause of this diversity and by naming myself a feminist, working for a feminist organization made me feel proud and honorable. While I am saying goodbye to my position within So to Speak, I am continuing my feminist activism through my own writing, through being myself in the world, and through the curating of my feminist resource and website, Moon Spit. I define Moon Spit as “a collective project figuring out ways to be the best, happiest, empathetic, and fulfilled people we can be. Moon Spit is the feminine grit. My main goal on moonspitpoetry.com is to provide transparency on a feminist poet trying to provide feminist positive options–all in the effort of creating gender, cultural, and racial equality. I want this blog and website to be a space of us learning about us in all of our grace and humiliations. How to overcome prejudice with honor and intellect. To share our triumphs and provide examples of when we failed and tried again to succeed. We all deserve respect. I hope we create a space here of praise and dedication to a happy, happy future.”
I believe our values are always deeper and more sophisticated than we think. We are constantly fine tuning as we experience life with more and different people. I am learning everyday about what I believe, more specifically how I believe in feminism. At the center of feminism, I believe, is honesty. To be honest is to be trusting that others are honest. It is an unending circle of empathy. Without this we lack a basic and beautiful humanity. An honesty which promotes positive contributions to our communities helps us understand ourselves and our place in the world. I hope you will continue to interact and share in discussions with me here in the comments section, on my site, or on Twitter @smcmulli.
Take care, happy writing, and as always,
♥ Sheila M