Feminist to Follow: Meghan from Feminist Current

There’s so much to say about feminism and all the issues women and minorities face, you could start a whole blog about it.

That’s exactly what Feminist Current founder Meghan Murphy did in 2012, and now her site—which features multiple contributors—is the most-read feminist blog in Canada. I asked Meghan if she would share her thoughts on the importance of writing about feminism, and she blew me away with her thoughtful and nuanced response. So I’m going to let her take the reigns.

Feminist to Follow: Meghan from Feminist Current

Blogging about feminism is important to me in large part because feminism is so widely misunderstood and maligned. And not only from misogynists and MRAs, but even from feminists.

The second wave was a hugely successful time for our movement, making huge strides for women in terms of issues like sexual harassment, reproductive rights, employment equity legislation and sexual assault laws. I would argue that the second wave had a bigger impact on women’s lives than any other period during the movement—yet the third wave has pretty thoroughly trashed it.

“Second wavers” is employed as an insult by many younger feminists. It’s upsetting to see women fighting themselves—I mean, do we really just want to reinvent the wheel over and over again? There are so many women and feminist struggles—successes and failures—we can learn from. The history is all there, yet we choose to believe trashing and hearsay, repeating the myth that the second wave was only about white, middle class women, and erasing all the women of colour and working class women who were central to the movement during that time (especially in Canada).

Beyond that, feminism—especially radical feminism—is pretty widely misunderstood by the general public. People either think it’s about women having power over men, like a matriarchy or something, or they think it’s about saying all women are “good” and all men are “bad,” or they think it’s just about women feeling good about themselves—that whole “anything a woman chooses to do counts as feminism” thing.

But it isn’t about any of that. It’s a political movement against patriarchy and violence against women—it’s about women’s human rights and our right to be treated with dignity and respect.

People have described Feminist Current as a kind of bridge between “popular feminism”/popular culture and a deeper feminist analysis, more closely aligned with radical and socialist feminism. I generally try to make feminist ideas and discourse relatable and clear to those who might not have a strong background in radical feminism or who have only been exposed to third wave or liberal feminism. As such, I find myself correcting misconceptions and misrepresentations of feminist ideology and goals a lot. You know, correcting the myth that anyone who opposes or is critical of pornography and prostitution is a prude or a member of the religious right, for example.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop correcting those kinds of misrepresentations because I think it is intentional, which is to say that it is has been a very successful tactic—it has scared women into staying silent on the issue, afraid that if they oppose porn or dare to question the existence of prostitution they will be labeled sex-hating, man-hating, freedom-hating prudes. People know that this tactic works; that’s why they keep doing it. The slander of feminists and the feminist movement, in general, is nothing new—it’s been going on since the first wave.

Feminism isn’t about being perfect, it isn’t about always making the right choices, it isn’t about whether or not you like fucking men or whether or not you wear Spanx—it’s about recognizing that the choices we make and that the way we behave and move around in this world is shaped by the fact that we live in a patriarchy. It’s about understanding that violence against women happens systemically, not accidentally or because there simply happens to be some men who happen to choose to rape or beat women.

We live in a world that sexualizes inequality and domination—I mean, look at the popularity of books like 50 Shades of Grey—BDSM is about domination and subordination and about playing at violence, humiliation, and torture, and we’ve learned this is “sexy.” We can’t pretend as though this isn’t totally attached to the fact that we live in a patriarchy. Acknowledging that isn’t the same as saying you can’t have fantasies or that you can’t do what you like in your bedroom. It is to say: take your blinders off, ask hard questions, don’t take anything at face value.

I blog about feminism because women are raped and beaten and murdered every day, all around the world, by men. Trafficking, prostitution, and porn are huge, multi-billion dollar industries that cause immeasurable harm to women and girls. And we tend, as a society, to think of these things as perfectly normal—as titillating or naughty—not as things that perpetuate damaging stereotypes about women and men and that hurt all women—both physically as well as psychologically and politically.

I am a writer and I am a woman and I am a feminist. I can’t not write about feminism—it’s too important, and if we can’t see why, we really aren’t paying attention.

 

If you want to read more from Meghan (and other feminist writers), follow her on Twitter and make sure to check out Feminist Current. I particularly enjoyed these recent posts:

Hi the media. Do your job. Love, feminism.
Can men be allies in the fight to end violence against women? (podcast)
NOW Magazine takes a stand; will continue to generate revenue through prostitution advertisements

Thanks, Meghan, for sharing your insight. Be sure to check out other Feminists to Follow here.

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Few bloggers these days have me latched onto their every word the way Shannon Butler does.

And when I asked the blogger behind Awash With Wonder to tell me why blogging about feminism is important to her, I should’ve known she’d respond with a blog post-length essay worthy of publication on a site that actually reimburses its contributors.

How lucky I am to have her thoughts for free.

For that reason, I’m keeping my introduction to this month’s installment of Feminist to Follow short and will let Shannon’s words show why she’s a feminist and blogger you should know. Read on…

Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Blogging about feminism is important to me because I care about women and our role in the world.

In a recent interview with Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham is quoted as saying, “I just think feminism is my work. Everything I do, I do because I was told that as a woman, my voice deserves to heard, my rights are to be respected, and my job was to make that possible for others.”

I see feminism as my work, too.

I did not grow up wanting to be a movie star or a doctor or an astronaut. I had no clear goals. The only thing I’ve always known and that has become truer as the years passed is this: I love to be a woman and I love other women.

Even with all the bullshit women face, I have never wished I wasn’t one. I see it as a privilege to be able to befriend smart, funny, interesting women and get to experience that divine miracle that is supportive female friendship.

But do I wish there wasn’t so much bullshit? Yeah, I do – especially because there is so much of it.

Recently, a lot of women have publically asserted that they do not like catcalling. The response has not been what a rational person might think it would be. Imagine a world where people say, “We do not like this thing you’re doing; it makes us feel threatened and harassed” and the response is, “Well you should like it, it’s a compliment, stop being so ungrateful”?

Affordable birth control is still being fought for in 2014 in America. Just let that sink in. This in a country where maternity leave is either nonexistent or an absolute joke.

The response to a woman saying she was raped – which only a tiny percentage of rape victims report – is often not, “Are you okay?” but, “How much were you drinking?” or “How short was your skirt?”

Think about how many people you know who have a female boss or how many stories you hear about men having to fight to get paid the same amount as women who have the same qualifications and do the same job as them. I’ll wait.

That’s just a small percentage of the problems women face in America. Let’s talk global.

Malala Yousafzai was shot for daring to be a girl and wanting an education.

The 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram have reportedly been “married off” to their kidnappers. Those girls are under thirteen and are facing a lifetime of imprisonment and sexual assault.

Reading about girl babies globally who get abandoned, aborted or denied medical care by their parents because girls aren’t valuable in their societies is numbing. The authors of Half The Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, report: “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.”

The number of people currently sold into sexual slavery and forced labor is hard to pinpoint – trust that it’s more than you think – but everyone fighting to save those people agree that woman and girls account for more than 90% of them. I can go on.

In her book, Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay wrote, “It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.”

There is so much to be concerned about. It’s hard not to believe that fighting for gender equality is too difficult, that it would be easier to just give up and accept that the world is dominated by patriarchal societies and we just have to deal with the misogyny and oppression that comes with it.

But part of being human is to hope for a better world and to believe that you may play a role in making it so. Fighting for gender equality is one of the most important things we can do to make the world a better place – not just for women but also for men.

Former chief economist of The World Bank, Lawrence Summers, believes “investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world’” and the United Nations Development Program found that “woman’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity…and increases the chances of education for the next generation.”

Giving women the chance to excel – a freedom they have been denied for centuries – will change the world. That’s why I write about issues that affect women and the way feminism has helped to give me hope.

I am not naïve enough to believe that just because I identify as female that I’m going to like every woman or support every decision she makes. But that’s not what feminism asks of me. Feminism simply asks that I fight for every woman to live a life where she is not oppressed or disadvantaged or allowed to die because of her gender. It is not too much to ask. It is the bare minimum, actually.

 

If you want to read more of Shannon’s thoughtful, eloquent writing on feminism, you’ll enjoy these:

Let’s talk about rape culture
Does your partner need to be a feminist?
Why representation matters

Thanks so much for sharing your words, Shannon. Be sure to check out other Feminists to Follow here.

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

Feminist to Follow: Augusta Gail

The blog world could use more feminists like Augusta Gail.

The self-described grrl power princess is a Southerner who moved to Hollywood to pursue her writerly dreams, and Augusta’s blog of the same name is where she talks honestly and openly about her experiences of embracing herself through feminism. That’s why she’s this month’s featured Feminist to Follow.

Feminist to Follow: Augusta Gail

photo by Aurora Lady
 

Why do we need more bloggers like Augusta? She’s not afraid to get personal, and she’s not afraid to talk about the taboo. She curses and she’s open about her flaws, yet she can drive a point home and will make you love yourself more in the process. I admire her spitfire spirit, and I think you will, too.

Here’s Augusta in her own words:

“I wasn’t always a very good feminist; in fact, I spent much of my high school and college years completely disregarding the idea of feminism. It wasn’t until my life – and my self-esteem – hit rock bottom that I truly discovered, and embraced, feminism.

As a writer, I immediately realized that I wanted to combine my love for writing with my love of grrrl power, and create a place where girls (and guys) could find inspiration, reassurance, and share their stories. Writing about feminism is important to me because I want women to know that they’re so much more than a stereotype, or a dress size, or something to be stared at. It’s important because, every day, a teenage girl makes herself miserable trying to look a certain way and appeal to certain people. I want to encourage girls to embrace self-love and self-confidence. It’s important because, every night, women walk across parking lots with their keys clenched between their fingers, expecting to have to protect themselves.

I want to help create a world where there is no rape or violence against women – a world where yes means yes and consent is given the utmost of importance. I write about feminism in the hopes that people will join the fight for women’s rights and equality. I write about feminism because it truly changed my life, and I’m so incredibly proud to be a feminist!”

Some must-read posts from Augusta Gail:

The Story of My Selfie – On reclaiming confidence and self-love with selfies.
Feminism is SexyCan you wear sexy clothes and still be a feminist? (Yes. Here’s why.)
The Magic of Menstruation“If the thought of lady bits bleeding freaks you out, well then, you should probably keep reading.  Because, let’s be honest, you need to get over it.” ‘Nuff said.

 

Make sure you check out Augusta’s blog for every more great posts. (And if you missed the first installment of Feminist to Follow, meet Kate from Clear the Way here.) 

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

Feminist to Follow: Kate from Clear the Way

Contrary to what comment threads on any website might indicate, there are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and well-meaning folks on the interwebs.

Such folks give me hope that we’re not doomed to a future of violence, misogyny and overall mayhem. (And it’s tough not to feel that way when reading the news these days.) That’s why I’d like to take some time to highlight the people who are spreading good on the web by fostering important discussions and inspiring new ways of thinking.

Enter the “Feminist to Follow” series, in which I introduce you to awesome people writing about feminism.

Every month, you’ll meet a new blogger who touches on the topic in engaging and meaningful ways. And I’d like to kick off the series with the lovely Kate of Clear the Way.

Kate of Clear the Way

I only discovered Clear the Way somewhat recently, but I’m already a huge fan.

Earlier this year, Kate launched the series Feminist Fridays to open up a regular dialogue about all things feminism. And “dialogue” really is the appropriate word to describe the series, as it’s filled with words and interviews with other bloggers about their experiences. I love how the series manages to encompass everything from sexism and the patriarchy to art and music. The series is as diverse and entertaining as the rest of Kate’s blog, which also touches on fashion, decor, vegan recipes and writing.

What I love most about Clear the Way is that it has everything I love in a lifestyle blog—style, food, thoughts on blogging—but it goes beyond the basic requirements of that genre and ties in feminism in a way that makes it accessible and relatable.

Here’s Kate in her own words:

“Blogging about feminism is important because your blog should be an extension of yourself, and if you are passionate about feminism you should share it. Opening up about feminism on my blog through my Feminist Fridays series has been amazing for me and my blog because it has allowed me to talk about the things that are really important to me and connect with others who have similar passions.”

Some must-read posts from Clear the Way:

How Do You Deal: Disapproval  – in which Kate and several other ladies discuss criticism of their feminist views from others
Fem Fridays: Be Bright – a message of inspiration and support for those inevitable dark days
Everyday Feminism – a series in which guest contributors write about how they live out feminism every day

Today, I added my own thoughts to Kate’s Everyday Feminism series, and you can check it out on her blog here.

For those not already a fan of Clear the Way, make sure you check out Kate’s blog. What other feminist bloggers do you love to follow?

Feminist Apparel giveaway! (Why do we need feminism?)

Feminist Apparel giveaway

I can think of a lot of reasons why we need feminism.

I’ll use some examples from my own personal experience, though there are far more reasons than these few:

Because the first time I was called a slut, I was 12 years old.

Because I don’t feel safe walking to parking garages alone.

Because my school campus underreports sexual assault cases.

Because I know too many people (i.e., more than zero) who have been sexually assaulted.

Because I’m called a “bitch” if I ignore catcalls or “compliments” on the street.

Because these awful things are considered normal, part of life, to be expected.

…And those experiences—through the lens of a thin, white, middle-class woman—are just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the issues women around the world face every day.

Everything feminism stands for aims to address these issues.

Which is why instead of fearing the F-word, I want to wear my feminism on my sleeve (or on the front of my new shirt, pictured above). And if you enter today’s giveaway with Feminist Apparel, you could, too. Read on.

Feminist Apparel giveaway

Feminist Apparel is a kickass clothing company that stands for equality and encourages others to do the same—while looking smart in one of their tanks or tees. The styles are sassy, clever and playful… but dead serious. (Here’s the one I’m wearing in the top photo. I love this one and this one, too.)

Most importantly, Feminist Apparel puts its money where its mouth is. Proceeds from their sales go to women-empowering nonprofits like Women’s Way, so you know your purchase is going toward a worthy cause.

But one lucky feminism-loving reader will win a shirt for free.

The details: Win one shirt of any style, size & color (winner’s choice!) from Feminist Apparel by using the Rafflecopter widget below. (You have to leave a blog post comment first to unlock the other entries.) Note that you can tweet daily about the giveaway for bonus entries. The contest will be open all week until Friday, July 11th, at 3:00 p.m. EST upon which one winner will be chosen at random. And yes, it’s open to international readers! I request the winner responds within 72 hours of being contacted, or else the prize will go to someone else. You’ll get extra love from me if you tweet/Instagram a photo of yourself in your new shirt once you receive it. (Be sure to tag @FeministApparel and @WittyCassieHere!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s so important to me to work with brands I believe in, so I’m psyched to be partnering up with Feminist Apparel. And, of course, I’m psyched about my new shirt!

Let’s celebrate the amazing things women and men can do when we work together… like ending sexual assault, sexism and victim blaming once and for all.

And tell me: Why do you need feminism?