Hello all. What lies below has only occurred once before at The Compass: we have a reader-submitted guest post. Huzzah! If you are interested in sharing your own writing, artwork or any other creative work, click the pencil icon above labeled “Submit!” Part of the mission of The Compass is to inspire others to create - we’d love to provide a home for it, anytime.
Today’s post comes from a good friend of The Compass, Cait. Cait is a wonderful young licensed librarian concerned with issues relating to feminism and disabilities (and a lot of other things, as you can see from her Tumblr. She’s also on Twitter.) As a blog started by four young white guys, there has not been a great deal of diversity at The Compass. Cait’s helping us out with this essay (the title is mine, the rest is her’s).
I know I probably won’t win any fans with this, because this post is going to be about feminism. Feminism is an intensely polarizing subject for many people as they find themselves confused by, angry at, and dismissive of the issues presented. Feminist discourse ranges from critiques of public policy, analyses of your favorite media, and even dissections of commercials and portrayals of women.
These are all important, as trivial as some of it may sound. However, I would like to point out that I am not expecting to convert anyone. My goal is simply to get you to consider the media you look at and how it reflects society. I will attempt to break it down with this extremely link-happy post. Click them! They are interesting!
When I say I am a feminist, I mean that my feminism is intersectional. This means I do not only think about just how women are affected, but also how they are affected by race, gender, class, sexuality, disability - basically anything that can set a person apart. Unfortunately, most feminist discourse is dominated by the rich, hetero, cis women. There are a lot of factors to take into account here when thinking about feminism, because we are all shaped by different experiences. Straight women experience life differently than gay women. Cis women experience life differently than trans women. White women experience life differently than Black, Latin@, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Inuit, Native American, Aboriginal, or Filipina women. Abled women experience life differently from disabled women. I also would also like to note, while we are still at the beginning, that I am a white, hetero, cis female with a disability (deafness). This is important to know, because I cannot speak for other people whose experiences I did not have – an especially important factor of intersectionality. You do not get to speak for someone else because all races are not a hegemony. This is something I have run into a lot when speaking about deafness – many people seem to think they understand what deafness is and that all deaf people share similar qualities, which isn’t true. That is why it is exceptionally important to seek out the perspectives of those belonging to the culture you are doing research on (and why I have included so. many. freakin’. links. that. you. should. read.). Don’t take my word for it because I am completely unable to speak for everybody – educate yourself on these matters.
It is important to take into account ALL of these experiences in order to determine how the world can be better for everyone. However, most people don’t. They simply chalk up feminism to women’s rights. But feminism should be more than just women’s rights. It should be about all of these different experiences and perspectives.
It is also extremely important to criticize portrayals of women in media. You don’t even know.