A Year of Feminist Classics

Because they're better together :)

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why is Reading Classic Feminist Texts so Important?

We thought that to celebrate the half year mark we would talk a bit more about ourselves and about what feminism is to us – expect to see a post where we answer a question for the next four Fridays. We will share our thoughts and we are hoping that you will chime in with your answers either on your own blog or in the comments.

On July 1st we asked why do you identify as a feminist? We followed up on July 8th asking why do you think it is important that others identify as feminists as well? Last week on July 15th we asked why do you think there is a stigma attached to the feminist label? Today we are finishing up by relating these questions back to this project and asking Why do you think reading these classic feminist texts are so important?

Iris:

Because I think that if you are going to call yourself a feminist, it is good to know at least a little about the history of the term. Especially because of the controversy around the term, it seems like a good way to get to know the ins and outs, to know where some of the “stigmas” have come from, to see with your own eyes how some early feminist were racist for example is to learn to reflect on that and change your own position. By reading a selection of classics on the subject you offer yourself an opportunity to engage with the different notions of feminism that have existed and to decide what forms and arguments you agree and disagree with. Since I believe every identification like “I am a feminist” or “I am a vegetarian” is a matter of growth, no one ever is and everyone becomes – to throw in a cliché, to keep reading this texts is to keep learning and positioning yourself. Something about that just sounds so attractive to me. And, I believe that by reading these texts together with a group of people, you learn even more, especially since we’re all from different backgrounds, in a different stage of life and thus reflect on these texts differently, it has opened my eyes to so many issues I would not have considered otherwise

Emily:

It is entirely possible for people to be feminists and do important feminist work without ever having read a “classic feminist book”, taken a course on feminism, or, yes, even used the word “feminist”. However, reading historically important feminist texts is a really great way to contextualize our feminist convictions. It’s a way of grounding these convictions and challenging them against others so that they continue to evolve, and so that we are better able to articulate and communicate them to each other. It’s a way to better understand the current position of women and feminism in our world, to gain inspiration, and to locate problem areas in feminist movement that need to be improved upon. They can help serve as starting points for conversations between feminists and those who aren’t sure yet whether they’re feminists or not, but are curious about feminism. Regardless of where one is in their individual development in relation to feminism, reading and talking about feminist texts is a good way to focus conversation and get us talking about what’s important to us. Which is, of course, the aim of this blog 🙂

Ana:

History has a way of repeating itself, and the past is very often not as different from the present as we’d like to believe. This is not to deny the incredible progress that was made in the last century or so when it comes to gender equality, of course. But nevertheless, the issues women deal with now are in fact similar to issues women have faced in the past. And even if not, reading about the way other obstacles were conceptualised and overcome can give us useful ideas with very real and practical applications. It can also shed light on the blind spots of previous generations of feminists – which are of course not negligible, as anyone who’s read our selections so far will have noticed – and hopefully open our eyes to present ones. Last but not least, these classics are fun, interesting, and great conversation starters.

Amy:

While I don’t think that reading feminist classics is required to call oneself a feminist, I think that it is important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, reading these texts reminds us of how far we really have come. We can see where we used to be and how much progress has been made and how important the movement really has been. The second reason is that we can learn the truth behind many of the false claims that anti-feminists made because we know our true history. The third reason is that we can learn both the similarities that exist between past and present and some ideas on how to move forward. Even though we’ve come so far, when we read many of these classic texts there are a scary amount of similarities that perhaps aren’t the exact same issue but the parallels are there. This teaches us how far we still have to go as well as how we might get there. Lastly, it is a way to solidify ones own beliefs by discussing these ideas with others and both learning to grow and accept other perspectives and by learning why and how these issues are important.

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Introduction: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

It is quite a prospect, isn’t it? This 770 page book (in the edition I use). I have to say I am very intimidated by it. But the prospect of reading and discussing it together is also very exciting to me. Because of the length and my late introduction post, the hosts have decided to leave the discussion open throughout August as well. I know I will be needing the time to get through this and give it the attention it deserves. I will try to post updates on the book and the posts discussing it a couple of times, to keep the discussion going.

I do apologize beforehand for the length of this post. Also, I am no expert on De Beauvoir, so this may be faulty. Either way, I hope it is of use to you.

Life

Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris, 9 January 1908. Her parents were devout Catholics with aspirations to nobility. Simone herself was catholic, and even considered to become a nun when she was in a convent school together with her sister. However, that changed when she lost her faith in 14. For the rest of her life she was an atheist.

Simone’s intellectual interests were present from an early age. She passed the baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy in 1925 and afterwards went on to study mathematics at the Institut Catholique and literature at the Institut Sainte-Marie. At the Sorbonne she studied philosophy and wrote a thesis on Leibniz. At university, she met several now-famous intellectuals, including Claude Lévi-Strauss, but her most famous relation is to Jean-Paul Sartre. She met him when preparing for the agrégation, the most competitive post-graduate examinations in France. Sartre came in first on this test, de Beauvoir second. Sartre and de Beauvoir had a polyamorous relationship, seeing other people with the consent of everyone involved. De Beauvoir felt attracted to both sexes and Sartre and her frequently ‘shared’ other girls. Both Sartre and De Beauvoir are considered to be great philosophers of existentialism and are iconic for French intellectual life during those decades.

De Beauvoir wrote several kinds of texts during her life, including metaphysical novels like She Came to Stay (1943) and The Mandarins (1954); a collection of short stories based on women important in the early years of her life called When Things of the Spirit Come First (published 1980, written much earlier); and her autobiography in four parts (the third part is often published in two separate volumes in English).

Simone de Beauvoir died in 1986, aged 78. She is buried next to Sartre at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.

For more on De Beauvoir’s life, I would like to point you towards Emily’s posts on the first and second parts of Simone de Beavoir’s memoires: Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée and La force de l’âge.

Existentialism

De Beauvoir, like Sartre – or maybe even following Sartre? (people seem to disagree on that) – was an existentialist philosopher, and together with Sartre she makes one of the great French philosophers of her age. I cannot here provide a thorough summary of existentialist philosophy, especially since it took diverse forms ever since its rise during the nineteenth century. However, a few key characteristics are important to situating Simone de Beauvoir’s work.

  1. First, existentialist focus on question of concrete human existence instead of speculating about humanity’s essential characteristics. As such, you could say they focus on individual lives lived and the subjective like emotions and states of being than questions of objective knowledge, etcetera.
  2. Second, existence precedes essence. The actual life and circumstances decide the ‘essence’ of a person and the notion that there is a human essence present in everyone independent from lived experience is rejected. Sartre, for example, states: “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards”. Like all theories that emphasize experience over essence, this can also imply that people might (in a way) “choose” who they become: they are not something to begin with, and thus may choose to become a better person instead of a cruel one.
  3. This idea has to do with the third characteristic of existentialist thinking and that is the concept of freedom. People are not free to do anything they choose, per se, as they are situated in a certain space and thus in some ways constricted by that space. The existentialist notion of freedom thus does not imply that there are no values and everyone can think and act as they choose. However, they do accept that values are situated and can therefore be changed. While we are constricted by values present in the world, they are not absolute (since there is no essential nature) and people are thus responsible for their actions as well as the values they hold.
  4. This leads to a fourth characteristic which is existential angst: the negative feeling that arises from this human freedom and responsibility.
  5. The idea of situated freedom, so to say, is explained further in Sartre’s concept of facticity, tied to the word “in-itself” which de Beauvoir uses in The Second Sex as well. Facticity, and I quote from the wikipedia page on existentialism, is:”both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one’s facticity consists of things one couldn’t have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one’s values most likely will depend on it. However, even though one’s facticity is “set in stone” (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one’s facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. (..)
    However, to disregard one’s facticity when one, in the continual process of self-making, projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one’s projection will still have to be one’s facticity, although in the mode of not being it (essentially).
  6. As such, existentialist often claim that one should lead an authentic life. Being authentic, as opposed to inauthentic, constitutes ‘finding oneself’, but not in the way of finding humanity’s essence. Finding oneself implies living in accordance with one freedom and that freedom in turn is related to your facticity, your situatedness.
  7. Especially relevant to De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is the concept of the Other, but I have to admit that this explanation on wikipedia did not make it easier to understand for me. And of course, all the books I own on philosophy somehow do not consider De Beauvoir a philosopher at all (really, they talk about French existentialism quite thoroughly, but she isn’t mentioned once – nor is the idea of ‘The Look’ or ‘the Gaze’). Maybe someone can help me out with this concept? What I can tell you is that De Beauvoir was inspired by Sartre’s idea of an opposition between a sovereign self as a subject, and an objectivied other inspired her. And in The Second Sex, she uses this to argue that women are made the Other by men, receiving an aura of mystery around them that caused men to be able to claim they did not completely understand women. The Other denotes the wholly other. And while ethnicity, religion and class were also often part of a distinction in which one group could constitute a hierarchy over other groups, De Beauvoir argues that women are the quintessential Other.

The Second Sex

The Second Sex (published in French in 1949) is arguably the best known work by De Beauvoir. It is also a classic of gender studies, or may even be considered the starting point of the distinction between gender and sex: while sex constitutes a biological difference, gender is a ‘socialized’ difference, springing from ‘nurture’ instead of ‘nature’. De Beauvoir, following the existentialist notion that experience precedes essence, argues that “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman”. Furthermore, she argues that throughout history, woman have been defined as ‘the Other’, an aberration of the ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ male. Because women were always considered to deviate from the normal, and furthermore busy to try to emulate normality (i.e. males), they were constantly subjected. Only by letting go of this assumption, De Beauvoir believed, feminism could move forward.

Famously, De Beauvoir started writing The Second Sex after trying to write about herself and found the only way to start was to write that “I am a woman”. She then started to question this, since she felt men would never start a text like the one she was writing with “I am a man/male”, since this was a given to them. Trying to understand what the idea of being a woman was, she started writing an essay on women. On a trip to America, she was encouraged by Nelson Algren (one of the men she had an affair with) to turn the essay into a book. According to Judith Thurman, in the introduction to the new English translation of Le Deuxième Sexe, the confrontation with racism towards blacks in the United States, combined with her experience at home with anti-Semitism (do not forget, the Second World War was of great influence on existentialist thinking), let her to conclude that “The black, the Jew, and the woman, were objectified as the Other in ways that were both overtly despotic and insidious, but with the same result: their particularity as human beings was reduced to a lazy, abstract cliché (“the eternal feminine”; “the black soul”; “the Jewish character”) that served as a rationale for their subjugation.” (Judith Thurman, Introduction: xiv)

The Second Sex is divided into two volumes. In the first, “Facts and Myths”, de Beauvoir chronicles the history of womankind, looking at biological, psychoanalytical and historical perspectives and zooming in on the latter when describing the history of ‘the role of woman’. The second volume, “Lived Experience”, is a case study of contemporary womanhood (in the 1940’s, the research for The Second Sex was done by De Beauvoir between 1946 and 1949) and the various stages in life.

A Note on the Translation

There are two English translations available of Le Deuxième Sexe. The first was published relatively quickly after its publication in France. Translated by Howard Parshly, and published by publisher Alfred A Knopf in 1953, it is often said to be a faulty translation, especially since it lost much of the original existential overtones and was abridged, cutting substantial parts of the original texts where De Beauvoir was considered to be overtly long in her descriptions. However, it should be noted that some scholars have argued that there was a form of female oppression at play in these cuts as well. Margaret Simons, for example, argued that examples of women’s anger were cut, while parts referring to men’s feelings were kept.

In 2010, a new translation was published, again by Alfred A. Knopf, this time translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. While the cover will tell you that it is “a new translation of the landmark classic” “complete and unabridged for the first time”, the new translation has been criticized too. Toril Moi, who has thoroughly criticized the first translation, now stated that the first was “lively and readable”, while the new translation does not convey Beauvoir’s “voice and style”. Furthermore, she argues that some words are definitely translated wrong, often substituting “man and woman” for “a man and a woman”

More on the issues with both translations can be found in review articles such as this one in the Chronicle. (Thanks to Ingrid from the Blue Book Case for pointing this article out to me – I think it was you?)

Just out of curiosity, which translation are you using? I am using the new one. Hopefully I will not find it to be “awkward reading” as Toril Moi says it is.

Discussion

Having just read the introduction written by Simone de Beauvoir, I admit I am slightly baffled at where to start with discussion questions.I have a feeling I may need to just read it and see where my mind feels like engaging with at this point. Basically, I wanted to quote that whole introduction as extremely relevant and interesting to discuss. I have already decided that I am just going to read it, see where it takes me, and reread it at some later date, hopefully with the critical questions posed by all of you to engage with the text more critically.

I do believe that De Beauvoir’s most famous assertion; “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman” should offer us a good starting point for discussion. Recently it has been questioned with research in biology and the social sciences, how do you feel about this idea yourself? And what is it significance to feminism?

However, since I have only read a few pages up to now, I feel there should be much more to discuss. Do you have any ideas? Please let me know and email me at: irisonbooks [at] gmail [dot] com. Feel free to raise questions in the comments and your own posts as well.

Why is there a Stigma Attached to the Feminist Label?

We thought that to celebrate the half year mark we would talk a bit more about ourselves and about what feminism is to us – expect to see a post where we answer a question for the next four Fridays. We will share our thoughts and we are hoping that you will chime in with your answers either on your own blog or in the comments.

On July 1st we asked why do you identify as a feminist? We followed up on July 8th asking why do you think it is important that others identify as feminists as well? This week we want to know, Why do you think there is a stigma attached to the feminist label?

Amy:

Think about it, the only way to get real action is to work together, and those in power are the ones who keep reinforcing the anti-feminism message. Did you know that women never actually burned their bras? Did you know that many (most) early feminists were happily married with children? Did you know that even those feminists who are lesbian or queer usually don’t hate men? Did you know that there are many men who are feminists? Despite the fact that none of it is true, we have this cultural stereotype of the feminist as a bra-burning, man hating, ugly woman who is just bitter because she can’t get a man. It is frustrating to know that the lies and rhetoric actually work. The stigma is there because we are lied to, the stigma is there because those with power like having power and like abusing power.

Iris:

The stigma attached to the feminist label frankly baffles me. It was only when I first started to question my aversion to the term that I realised how ridiculous the stigma is. What I was trying to say, back when my favourite line used to be “I’m not a feminist, but..”, was really: I don’t want you to associate me with all the prejudices surrounding this term, but yet, I am for gender equality. But when I think about it, it is hard to give even a proper description of this vague notion of the stigma attached to feminism. What is it really? Is it the fact that I don’t want to be a bra-burning person, like the movies we had to watch when we very shortly dealt with feminism in high school? Why do I even mind that people who called themselves feminist burned their bras? Or is it the notion that as a feminist gender equality is your only focus, forgetting other social injustices in the process? But back in high school, I am not sure I even considered that part of the prejudice. I guess for academics, that is one reason they turned to the term gender instead of feminist studies: wanting to take away the idea that other inequalities did not count, as well as the idea that masculinity could not be studied as part of a feminist agenda. But I wonder if the change of term wasn’t a matter of ascending to this dominant “stigma” (whatever it entails, really). I am hesitant to say that this very vague notion of a stigma that so many conjure up as soon as the word feminism is used, that I so often felt the need to defend myself against, is really a way of “structures” in “society” resisting gender equality? Hesitant because structures and society are such vague terms too. But part of the reason that this stigma is still attached to the term must be because it is an easy way to minimize the “threat” feminism poses? And part of it, I think, is part of the history of feminism itself. But that does not mean that the stigma is relevant today – it just means that feminism took different forms in different situations and where we allow for that kind of change in other terms for groups, apparently it is hard to let go of them in this context. See, I have no answers, just questions.

Emily:

I think the stigma against feminism comes from the misunderstanding that elimination of male privilege means the elimination of men or, less dramatically, that since we live in a gender-binary society, feminism is a zero-sum game which must empower women at the expense of men. This is false. Because we live in a society that understand sex and gender as binary, sexism is a double-sided coin. Feminism doesn’t flip the coin, though: it simply gets rid of it. Feminism liberates both men and women from sexism, not by creating some sex or gender-free imaginary landscape, or post-feminist gender-blind society, or whatever, but by opening up more space in terms of what is deemed socially acceptable so that everyone is presented with more options for self-expression, behavior, and opportunity, regardless of their sex or gender. The process of liberation does take work, however, and people who are privileged by the current system are loath to see it crumble. This is why all outbursts of feminist action are followed by extreme backlash and, unfortunately, anti-feminists have been really effective at negatively branding what they see, rightly, as a serious threat to their positions of privilege. By demonizing feminists on account of their real or perceived looks, career choices, family status, or any number of silly judgmental things, they focus attention away from what feminism is actually about; the dismantling of unfair systems of privilege.

Ana:

I think it’s a mix of ignorance and fear: some people genuinely fear everything feminism stands for due to their attachment to what is to them a very comfortable status quo; others actually do believe in some if not all the core principles of feminism, but they’re not clear on what the term actually means. There are many myths surrounding the word “feminism” – that it’s about hating men, that it means you have to give up or actually shun anything associated with traditional femininity, that feminists are all humourless, etc. – but perhaps the most insidious and bizarre is the notion that to draw attention to gender inequality is to reinforce it. People often make arguments that mirror the notion of “colour blindness” is discussions about race: they seem to think that if you truly believe in equality and reject gender stereotypes, then you should never focus on issues that affect women, or in any way acknowledge the very real ways in which the construct of gender constrains people’s lives. I look forward to a world where this is possible, but that world, my friends, is not the one in which we currently live.

Why Should Others Identify as Feminists?

We thought that to celebrate the half year mark we would talk a bit more about ourselves and about what feminism is to us – expect to see a post where we answer a question for the next four Fridays. We will share our thoughts and we are hoping that you will chime in with your answers either on your own blog or in the comments.

Last week we asked why do you identify as a feminist? This week we are following that up with: Why do you think it is important that others identify as feminists as well?

Ana:

First of all, because I think that establishing that this, all of this, is what feminism really is about avoids derailing: it keeps the conversation focused on what’s important – putting an end to gender inequality – rather than on definitions or semantics. Secondly, because I think that the more people openly identify as feminists, the more obvious it will become that feminism is for everyone: not just for women, not just for academics, not just for those who are well off, not just for westerners, not just for straight people, not just for cisgendered people, not just for white folks, and so on. The fact that feminism is often perceived as insular does of course have very valid historical roots, but the more people make the term their own, the more that notion will be dispelled.

Amy:

There is power in numbers and the more we pool our voices together, the more chance we have of being heard. Feminism is for everyone. All of us (even the most privileged) suffer from the consequences of the system in which we live where being a woman is considered ‘other’ and ‘less-than’ and anyone outside the gender binary is even more so. While most people would agree that discrimination is bad, many are willing to overlook anything that doesn’t affect them personally. Many people identify with the facts of feminism but by refusing the label the discussion becomes fragmented and is more easily dismissed and ignored, and so we remain in the same situation or even move backwards when we should be moving forward. Unless we all pool our voices, we won’t be loud enough to be heard.

Iris:

As I said in my previous answer, I was once one of those who said: “I am not a feminist, but..” Why do I think it is important that others identify as a feminist? It is because only through showing that feminist need not be all that stereotypes will have them be, can the word and thus its message become respected again. If stereotypes manage to prevail, it is as if letting inequality win. By showing the diversity within the common denominator feminism, we show that no one need be ashamed to support the message of gender equality.

Emily:

I think it’s important for people who oppose sex and gender based discrimination to call themselves feminists because doing so ensures the continuation of a discussion that is a difficult but important one to have; one that too many people feel is unnecessary because they wrongly believe that “equality” has been achieved and that problems disappear when ignored. I also think that part of the stigma against feminism comes from many people thinking that they don’t know any feminists personally, when in all likelihood they do, only they don’t call themselves feminists because they have internalized the negative stereotypes about feminism and no one wants to be ostracized on account of their beliefs. But the more clearly that someone’s parents, friends, teachers, and loved ones identify their feminism, the more palatable feminist action and understanding becomes to those around them. Sure, feminist actions and beliefs are more important to depart than the word itself, but words are powerful and we should use them, not fear them. There are reasons for criticizing or disowning the word feminist as a personal descriptor that I am sensitive to, including the desire to distance oneself from the racist, trans-phobic, imperialist, and other oppressive facets of feminist history (and, too often, the feminist present) or in attempts to ensure that feminism remains centered around activism and doesn’t become apolitical life-style branding. However, let’s not throw out the good with the bad, I say. There are still too many people who fear feminism for the RIGHT reasons (i.e. because they are sexist) but are not terrible people; people who could be persuaded into re-thinking some of their comfortable, messed up assumptions if surprised by the proud declaration of someone they know and respect that they are a feminist. There’s still too much good within feminism to give it up completely, so if “feminist” describes your ideas, then own it! It’s yours to shape and improve. Finally, I think it’s important for feminists to call themselves such as a gesture of appreciation for the work of all the feminists who have come before us and whose achievements are of great personal benefit to us all.

Why Do You Identify as a Feminist?

At this, the half-year mark, we want to send a huge THANK YOU out to all participants and readers!

We thought that to celebrate this milestone we would talk a bit more about ourselves and about what feminism is to us – expect to see a post where we answer a question for the next four Fridays. We will share our thoughts and we are hoping that you will chime in with your answers either on your own blog or in the comments.

Why do you identify as a feminist?

Emily:

My favorite definition of feminism comes from bell hooks, who says that feminism is the struggle against sexist oppression. Globally, women suffer disproportionately from poverty, little or no access to healthcare, illiteracy, and various forms of domestic and sexual violence. I call myself a feminist because I think this is wrong, that it’s not inevitable, and that it’s my personal responsibility as a compassionate human being to combat this state of affairs in my daily life in all the small but meaningful ways I can. Because women and children are often the most vulnerable members of their communities, raising their standards of living raises the living standards of whole communities. Feminism is not enough: a coherent, effective approach toward social justice, or becoming the person I envision as my best, most fulfilled self, must also include the struggle against other forms of oppression which inevitably intersect with those of sex and gender based discrimination including, but not limited to, sexual, religious, racial, and economic systems of devaluation. So, feminism is not an end-point: it is, however, a crucial part of both my social justice worldview and my personal understanding of myself, the world, and what I want to accomplish within it, regardless of barriers imposed by sexist social structures. It gives me the tools for understanding my place in the world in relation to others, and for realizing most fully my own potential while encouraging others to do the same.

Ana:

Because, as Cheris Kramarae put it, “feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” This may seem obvious, but we live in a world that still treats women as second class citizens – be it through the gender pay gap, the unfair division of domestic labour or the reality of sexual assault in the developed world; or the incredible poverty, illness and violence that disproportionately afflict women in the developing world. Gender is of course not the sole cause of inequality in the world, but feminism is nevertheless a crucial part of any social justice movement. It all comes down to the fact that the world does not give women a fair deal, but there’s something we all can do about that.

Amy:

Simply being a woman affects me in so many ways: if I am sexually assaulted or am abused by my partner, I don’t have recourse to justice because I am disbelieved and my character is questioned; as a woman if I decide to take time off to raise my children, it will count against me if I try to rejoin the job market; as a woman I am less likely to have the same autonomy over my body and my health, because other people restrict my health care access and choices; as a woman I have to put up with sexual discrimination and sexual harassment on the job and in the streets on a regular basis. The list is endless, horrifying when put together, and also upsetting. If, as a society, we refuse to give fully equal rights to (and are actively decreasing the rights of) roughly half of the members in the society, what does that really tell us about our values and our future? I want to live in a world where women can live safely and securely and have the same rights as men. I want to live in a world where my gender (be it female or male) dictates such a large part of what I can do, what I can want, and what I can become. I want to live in a world where we are all safe and free to be ourselves. It is unacceptable that we aren’t already there, and we can all do something about it. Hence, I identify (loudly, and proudly) a feminist.

Iris:

Compared to the answers of the others, I feel a little ashamed to admit that I must have been fairly late to identify as a feminist. Yes, I hail from the generation that likes to use the words “I’m not a feminist, but..” and even when my interest in university started to go in the direction of gender studies, I would have endless discussions with male friends in which – apparently – the argument “I’m not a feminist” is considered necessary to be taken seriously. However, since I started using gender as a category of analysis in university (which was at about the same time that I started blogging and found the wonderful Women Unbound Challenge), I have realised how necessary it is to identify as a feminist. Most of us are well aware of the visible gender gap across the world, but what made me truly identify as a feminist are the more ‘hidden’ inequalities. Ever since I started looking at historical sources – and consequently at everyday things like commercials, movies, books and TV shows – through the eyes of discourse analysis and the implicit ways in which women so often are subjected, I have truly become a feminist. Silly as it may sound that I needed these implicit things to hit home before I could come to terms with identifying myself as a feminist, I think it does say a lot. So, I identify as a feminist because all too often, explicitly and implicitly, women are still considered unequal to men, because sometimes, they are not even considered human. As a fellow human being, I don’t want to accept these things at face value. I want to at the very least be aware of them. Moreover I would like to draw attention to these issues so that other girls who once said that they are not feminists – almost as a defence mechanism? – will realise that asking for equality is nothing to be ashamed of, that it is, actually, necessary. As such, like Emily, Amy and Ana, feminism is not an endpoint, it is but one part of the awareness of inequality in the world. However, to me it is one of the basic things to be aware about – and an important one at that.

What about you – do you identify as a feminist? Why or why not?