“Feminism is about valuing women for being women.” -Shaw, What is Women’s Studies
Out of all the readings this week, this statement particularly stood out to me because I think it clears up a lot of confusion about what feminism is. From what I’ve seen on social media and even from some of the posts for this class, it seems that one of the biggest misconceptions people have about feminism is that being feminine means you can’t be feminist. I’m a huge Beyonce fan, and it seems that some mistakenly believe that by expressing her sexuality in her performances, Beyonce is “boxing women into an identity that is inescapably sexual”  and promoting the message that the only way to be a powerful woman is to flaunt your sexuality. This is so wrong. Beyonce’s message is just to be strong and confident in whatever you do. With her performances, she’s showing women who are feminine to be proud of expressing that femininity and sexuality and finding power in it. Just as much, she’s showing other women, regardless of how they act or think, to be confident in what they do and in what they’re good at, and ultimately just to be proud of being a woman. In What is Women’s Studies, I think Shaw highlights the same point. She explains that feminism is by no means trying to make women more like men. Instead, the movement focuses on recognizing their differences and encouraging people to value them equally.
Another concept that was really interesting to me was the concept of labels, as explained in Loreen Olson’s piece, “I’m all for equal rights but don’t call me a feminist.” Olson describes the fear in claiming a feminist identity because “‘they [people] don’t want to be associated with spooky stereotypes about feminists and their freaky excesses.'” I think this is true for any sort of label, and a lot of people are uncomfortable embracing a label because they don’t want to be put in a certain box. But it is important to note that there are always going to be people for any cause that are extreme in their ideas. By refusing a label just to prevent from being associated with the extreme cases, the label soon becomes associated with only the extreme cases, and gradually both the label and its cause loses support. For example, in Feminist Thought, Rosemarie Tong describes various lines of feminist theory. Radical-cultural feminists stress that, in order to become liberated, “women must escape the confines of heterosexuality and create a distinct female sexuality.” I definitely do not agree with this branch of feminism, but I would nonetheless consider myself a feminist.
– Shaw, What is Women’s Studies
– Loreen Olson, “I’m all for equal rights but don’t call me a feminist”
– Rosemarie Tong, “Feminist Thought”