Mom and Canaan

Are You A Feminist?

I was recently interviewed by Marie Hardin from Penn State’s Center for Sports Journalism about how women who blog about sports are empowered through blogging and use their sites for feminist activism. It was a pleasure to speak with her about my blog, my boxing, feminism, women’s sports in general and the Women Talk Sports network. You can be sure I’ll be posting more about the interview and the research that Hardin and her team are doing once the transcriptions come in.

And an interesting thing happened when I was telling my sons about the interview.

“Are you a feminist?” the oldest — who will turn 15 in February — asked.

What an incredible question, I thought, and he and I embarked on a fascinating discussion, which he agreed to let me record.

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Me: In your opinion, what is a feminist?

The First: I think a feminist is someone who wants changes for women. Cultural changes. A new way of living.

How would that look different from how the world looks today?

Women are kind of excluded today, even though legally I don’t think they’re supposed to be. A feminist would come out and address that.

How would they address it?

In my mind, they would be the rebels. They would do things other women don’t do or don’t want to do. For you, it’s boxing. Most women don’t want to box because it’s considered a “men’s” sport and they’re intimidated by that, or they think it’s a culturally wrong thing to do. Of couse, they could also be scared of the pain of boxing.

(Laughing) That’s all true.

When I tell my friends about it, the girls all think it’s awesome, probably cause they wish they could do something that cool. But the guys say, “Doesn’t that hurt?”

So are you a feminist?

Technically no, because I’m not a rebel for women. But I think women should be able to do the same things men get to do.

I think you’re bumping up against the difference between feminism and activism.

Yeah, okay. I think you’re both a feminist and an activist. You believe it and you work for it. But I guess I’m not really doing much about women’s rights.

What could guys like you do to be active feminists?

We could be actively supportive. Like telling all my friends about you, and encouraging other females to try it out. Most of my female friends wouldn’t try boxing, though.

Do you think they might try something else that sounded difficult or scary?

Yeah. They might, depending on what it was, and who I was asking. But I would say most girls don’t actually want to do things like train for a construction job or go out for the wrestling team because it’s so intimidating as a “man’s” domain. She would be scared that people would talk about her and say she should be doing laundry for her husband.

Who does all of the laundry in our house?

(Laughing) Me!

Well, your Dad puts it all through the washer and dryer, and you fold it all. Guys do the whole thing.

True!

Why do you think there is conversation among feminists about women’s issues and rights today?

Because they’re ready for change.

Whose job is it to create change?

Feminists, and not just the activists.

How will this change come about?

Keep pushing boundaries on the lines between “men’s” things and “women’s” things. Women have to continue to do things in men’s areas of expertise.

So there’s work for women to do. What about male feminists and activists, what should they be doing?

They should support their wives and girlfriends and also tell their friends about it. They should talk about it, share website links, and give out tickets to women’s boxing shows!

I’m down with that! Do you think all this is hard work?

Yes, because there aren’t enough activists to make the change. But more are coming. You did that survey; Women Talk Sports publishes your content, women are doing boxing, fight sports, extreme sports.

I think that’s cool that you see so much positive forward movement. Thanks for talking to me. I think you’re pretty cool.

Why thank you.

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3 Responses to Are You A Feminist?

  1. Mel November 2, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    so, the age old question…. Can a male be a feminist?

    BTW- I don’t consider myself to be a feminist. I consider my self to be a social justice advocate. this distinction comes from studying the Isms for the last 10 years. I’ve come to the conclusions that feminism (equal rights for women from Majority POV), womenism (feminism from Minority POV), Racism, Socialism, Classism, and an assortment of other inequality issues, are all symptoms of a lack of social justice. If we can address social justice issues, the other isms will be addressed. Social justice issues are a combination of cultural assumptions, individual attitudes and legal inequalities. All three have to be address for social justice to occur. I think we have made enourmous progress in the last 50 years, but I also think we have a lot of work to do.

    That said, I do think that there is a need for the individual isms… if for no other reason that to identify the symptoms.

    Interesting conversation with your young man.

    mel

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mel. I think you’ve brought up a salient point about social justice being a broader, and potentially more effective vantage point.

      I don’t think you have to be a woman to be a feminist, but clearly the language itself indicated the opposite to The First, at least a little bit. And there are certainly a plethora of “isms” out there, which can be off-putting.

      In the end, I was not only surprised and excited by the conversation, but I was thrilled to hear that he feels there is so much hope. What a great guy.

      Now for those women’s boxing show tickets…

  2. Mel November 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    As long as a positive message for change is being transmitted to the younger generation, I’m happy.

    Though, I realized when my husband and I started talking to Oni about her Halloween costume, even WE don’t always make the grade. “No, honey, you are a girl. Girls can’t be Batman… Batman is a boy. You can be Batgirl and mommy will be Batwoman.” I didn’t think anything of the conversation at the time, now I’m aghast at my self…. How narrow minded. The answer should have been, “if you want to be Batman you can be Batman…” Only redeeming thing about the whole episode is that both Batgirl and Batwoman were very enlightened feminists in their own right. Batgirl eventually becomes Oracle and forms an all women group of superheroes. (birds of prey)..

    Still, If I can make such a stupid, unthinking statement to my daughter, how can I expect those less educated / less aware / or male to do better?

    Oppression is in the mind of both the oppressed and the oppressor.

    mel

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