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Monday, February 28, 2011

how feminist consciousness led me to myself

by Alex
When I considered feminism, I all thought of were a bunch of butch, man-hating lesbians. The side of feminism I could see seemed overzealous and hateful. I am not the type of person to associate with hate; I tend to avoid it at all costs. Hate is a nasty emotion that promotes dark and evil behavior. Hate stems from within -- a selfish and consuming thing. I want no part in it ever. My knowledge of feminism was fundamentalist, extremist, and wrong. I saw everyone as equally human, and discriminating or distinguishing based on gender or anything else felt wrong.

Recently, I took a Women’s Literature class at Portland State. At the same time I was taking a Nazi Culture course for my Junior Cluster. The lit class seemed to be opening my understanding of feminism by simply defining it as the experience of women in society and culture. I began to realize that, of course men and women are different and have different experiences. Feminism is about that female experience more than the hatred of men. The Nazi Culture class helped me to solidify this understanding when the professor posed the controversial statement: “There is no such thing as equality. Equality is bullshit,” he said.

Having regarded both men and women as equal for most of my life, this statement shocked me. As he began to argue his case though, my own opinions became clear. Equality, as our society views it, is indeed bullshit. Our society attempts to place women on equal terms with men as far as economics, politics, and other mainstream cultural systems. These are the mediums in which we judge fairness. However, women are different from men biologically and therefore are different culturally and ideologically. My professor went on to argue that these differences needs to be embraced rather than turned masculine.

Since then I have come into many other consciousnesses besides feminist. If asked, I can honestly answer that I am a feminist, but mostly because I am a woman and I have experience that is vastly different then a man’s. I would also say that I am a human being, a person, an individual who has her own unique person that separates from that gender identity. I have come to find myself within the scope of queer ideology, a sense that labeling one’s self is unnecessary. I choose not to orient myself, but rather reside in that space within myself that is my individuality. Some people find comfort in labels and identities. I know I have in the past. My feminist consciousness led me to a much greater understanding of myself.  All labels really do is keep us from having to explain things so much. They are a generalization, but we are not.

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