I am coming to the end of the It May Be series, and I have a couple of posts left. I have been challenged and am inspired to learn more about the roles of men and women, the different types of feminism, and where I fit in the wide spectrum of ideas. Today I wanted to reblog from a writer who posts about issues of justice and shapes a lot of her arguments based on what we can learn from the past The following post can be found on Susanna Krizo's website, where you can find her many articles as well as books that she has written.
The young woman looked at me and said, "I'm not a racist, but I can't live in Southern California because there are just too many black people and Mexicans there. They are scary."
Why would she say she isn't a racist when by the very definition of her own words she is one? Racial prejudice or discrimination is what racism is about, and if you fear someone because of their nationality, origin, or color, you are a racist. You may not like the negative label, but it doesn't mean that you aren't what the label is telling others.
Then there was the other young woman who wrote, "Women cannot be elders, I cannot reconcile their existence with my other beliefs... It doesn't mean that I'm not a feminist."
But it does. You cannot be a feminist and deny women equal opportunity, for a feminist is a person who affirms that women are people too, and since they are people - human beings - they have every right to aspire to the same things men do.
Our beliefs aren't decorations that we put out on a display for others to see. They aren't something that we should uphold just because they make us look good or feel good. We believe certain things because they are right and good, and we model our lives according to those beliefs, because we want to be good. Saying "I'm not a racist, but..../I'm a feminist, but..." is an attempt to deny one's own beliefs in order to escape censure, ridicule, and ostracism. But at what cost to others and ourselves?
Only when we work towards justice for others do we work towards justice for ourselves.
I am a feminist, and proudly so, and because I'm a feminist I believe women have every right to express themselves in the same ways as men do.
I believe women have an inherent right to autonomy, the right to decide what happens to their own bodies, the right to aspire to whatever individual goals they may wish to pursue.
I believe women are equally intelligent, equally wise, equally moral to men, and therefore capable of making decisions for themselves and others.
I believe women have a right to be heard, to speak out, to challenge injustice.
My feminism doesn't make me hostile towards men, for how can I hate that which I see as my equal? As a feminist I affirm that men and women are fundamentally the same; we are primarily human, secondarily men and women. I cannot hate men, for that would be equivalent of me hating myself, which is the paradox of patriarchy, for it causes men to hate women, and therefore hate themselves, as Paul says in Ephesians 5, "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church" (Eph 5:28-29, NIV).
But feminism isn't enough. We have to also believe that all humans have the right to equal dignity and respect. And because we must believe in human equality, we have to affirm that all humans have the right to live free from hatred, violence and prejudice. Feminism shouldn't make us less concerned with the rights of others; it should make us more concerned. If we fight for the right for women to be free from oppression, how can we turn around and oppress others? Isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy? And at the same time, if we fight for the rights of people of color, how can we not fight for women's rights? Aren't half of them women?
Either we are all human or none of us are; human equality leaves us no other choice, and as much as we would like to hide our prejudices, and win the approval of others, our own words betray us even when we don't notice it.