March 11, 2011

Fashionable Academics Virtual Conference

Today I am among the participants in the "What a Feminist Looks Like" virtual conference at Fashionable Academics. I encourage you to read all the entries and add your own to the comments section. This was a great way to integrate Women's History Month with blogging so I want to thank the smart, stylish folks of Fashionable Academics for the wonderful opportunity to participate.

Here is what I wrote about what feminism means to me:

"Feminism has been the guiding philosophical thread of my academic career. And for me it means embodying and championing bell hooks’ notion that feminism is for everybody. Students are often reluctant to self-identify as feminists, shying away from the much-maligned word. My role is to reframe their definition of feminism, moving it away from wounds left by backlash but also refusing to dilute or disempower its potential. I begin with the concept of reflexivity. A feminist outlook includes reflexivity and gratitude in addition to the space for frustration and anger. Feminism encourages thoughtful reflections about privilege. It fosters the idea that privileges come in many forms. Feminism interrogates not only gendered privilege but class privilege, racial privilege, intellectual privilege, ethnic privilege, national privilege, able privileges, sexual identity privileges, faith/spiritually situated privileges, etc. It takes seriously the idea that class privileges do not only connect with wealth. 

Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of non-financial forms of capital couples with Patricia Hill Collins’ belief that power functions in matrices. Add Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory about intersectionality, (i.e. that is not productive to look only at one aspect of identity in isolation from others), and you can shed light on how to become more reflexive about privilege. These ideas help students understand relationships of power and the systemic marginalizations that can result.  My hope is that our conversations inspire not only gratitude and frustration, and a sense of feminist inclusion, but also I strive to cultivate a shared feeling of civic obligation. Together we should do what we can to ameliorate privilege discrepancies on local, national, and global scales. For me that is what it means to be a feminist."

I'm so grateful for feminism. Without the wheels of social progression I would not be who I am or live in the world that I inhabit. Granted, that world isn't perfect... But I believe that I stand on the shoulders of women (feminist and otherwise) who came before me. And I hope I can help to make the world a more equal, just place for the next generation. 

Be sure to go check out the entry so you can see how other fashionable bloggers feel about feminism! 


Raquelita said...

Thank you so much for participating in our conference and for writing such a thoughtful piece!

Thirteenlbs said...

Wow, this is a serious post! I am so glad to see people writing about this in the blogosphere. Heading over to FA now...


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