More and more people are identifying as feminists today. But what exactly is a feminist?
Jessica Valenti’s definition of feminism in her work “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” and Bell Hooks’ definition of feminism in her work “Feminism Is for Everybody” are similar as both authors talk about the common misconception of feminism, that it is about being anti-men and that feminists are frustrated women wanting to be like men. In their definitions, both authors agree that feminism is not about hatred or having “antis”, but about women wanting to have a better life and not being disadvantaged just because of their sex. However, Valenti and Hooks’s definitions are also different as Hooks states that it is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression and Valenti states that it is about feeling good about yourself as a woman and about being progressive. Hooks thinks of it as a movement as opposed to Valenti. In addition, Hooks uses a more formal language than Valenti, which is another difference in their definitions. Feminism is important to these authors as they have both experienced sexism in their personal lives and they have both noticed it in the lives of other women. Valenti and Hooks realize the progress women have made over the past years. However, there are still inequalities between the sexes today, which is why it is important for them to continue to fight for equal rights to end sexism as a whole.
Based on what I have read, I would define a feminist as a human being of any background with any physical trait that has the belief that men and women are equals and should be treated the same way in life with the same rights and freedoms, the same opportunities, etc. It is a person that wants to end sexist oppression and exploitation. After the reading, my definition of a feminist changed as feminism is also about ending sexist exploitation and oppression, which I did not know before.
The section titled “Feel-Good Feminism” by Jessica Valenti really struck me and made me think as it shows that women are constantly brought down with negative comments about their intellect, their physical appearance, their habits, etc. This part of Valenti’s essay really made me stop and think about these comments and how they make women feel like they’re not normal. These remarks can truly dictate how a woman acts and perceives herself from a very young age. This struck me as it made me think that women are never really safe from other people’s judgment and they have to learn to be strong and deal with all these remarks and expectations that society puts on them. From this section, I learned that feminism gives women a safe space to make them feel good about themselves.
After doing some research about the authors, I found it very interesting having read about authors of different ages with different cultural backgrounds. The information I encountered made sense to me as I expected that it was a younger author that wrote “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” as it contains many swear words and a very familiar type of language, which is easier to read and relate to if you are young. On the other hand, Bell Hooks, an African-American woman that lived through racism and sexism in her life, took a more composed approach stating her points clearly to support feminism using a more formal type of language. My research did not change my appreciation for their articles. It gave me a background on the women that wrote them, which makes me understand more the texts.
Written by William Romero-Muskus