I’ve seen and heard the term and have even called myself a reluctant feminist. But the word feminist or feminism, to me, says that all people do not exist in a natural state as equal, which is why I am reluctant.
I believe in equal rights for all people. Feminism is simply one part of that. It is, however, the part that I have the most experience with; being a woman that considers herself equal.
It bothers me that feminism has gotten a bad rap over the years. You know. That a feminist is a man hating, bra burning woman who spits at men who open doors for them. Although, many radical feminists put the blame for inequality of women squarely on the shoulders of the patriarch society. I’m not one of them.
So I thought I would do some research to see if there was something besides feminism that would cover what my work is about. I also thought it would be nice if there was just one philosophy that would cover equality across the board. One that doesn’t need clarifying or defending.
I found Humanism, Egalitarianism and a little about Equalism. They are all good philosophies worth further study. But after reading this article Equalism: The Feminist Alternative?, I agree that there isn’t just one movement or philosophy that covers the needs of specific groups. I thinks that’s why philosophies like Humanism and Egalitarianism have so many types and sub-categories. We fight for what we believe in. For you that could be gay rights or like Malala Yousafzai; education for girls (something dear to my heart).
When I look at my work and the series I have developed over the last decade or more, I see work with a feminist skew. I sometimes have a hard time accepting the women’s issues that my work discusses. Maybe my art is my way of working through the facts of my life. Maybe I’m just pissed that there are issues there at all. But I do know that my work mirrors my experiences.
After all this reading I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the word feminism, reluctant or otherwise, that is important. It is what the movement stands for and we all have to decide for ourselves what that is.
My work is a continuing conversation that I have with myself. It’s a voice that speaks for people that identify with my work. It’s a voice that speaks up for rights and education of women because that’s what I am, that’s what I know and that’s what I believe in.