“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
– Frederick Douglass
I was going to write one of those cliché posts: “OMG I’m a feminist AND a boy doesn’t that blow your mind and change the way you look at the world??” But just saying that pretty much got the urge out of my system. I want to write about feminism and about what it is to me. It’s about equality and fairness—principles both difficult to agree on and challenging to achieve. Identifying solutions takes honest, open conversation. Sometimes, though, understanding is even more powerful than solutions. Understanding brings us together, and no matter how perfectly this or that solution seems to provide the answers, if a community cannot catch the vision together, the solution will probably not be carried to the problem. Independently of pinpointing problems and solutions, we can have productive conversations if we can stop trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong and seek to understand each other. In a feminist reading of a book or movie, the primary goal is to observe the differences in boys’ and girls’ experiences and how authors portray and develop boy and girl characters. Feminism is, at the very least, seeking to understand the different experiences of boys and girls and grasp how economic, political, and social environments influence those experiences.
“There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.”
– bell hooks
“One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man.”
– Marlo Thomas
Equality and fairness are not simple achievements; it isn’t feasible to equalize every person’s circumstances or situations. And even if we could produce that kind of equality, questions of what is fair or what is not would remain. From the conversations I’ve had about feminist issues, I would conclude that the way boys and girls treat each other (i.e. equality and fairness, or lack thereof) grows spontaneously from how they feel about each other. In the struggle to identify what, specifically, needs to be changed to resolve issues of equality and fairness, discussing them with each other can help us reach the real goal—changing the way we feel about each other and developing empathy for each other’s experiences. Many religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, teach that Jesus Christ has charity for and perfect understanding of each individual, including the personal circumstances and experiences of each individual. I would suggest that perhaps Christian discipleship includes developing more understanding and respect for others’ experiences. The end goal is that we can look at each other as equals, all.
I’m young. I’m Mormon. I’m feminist.