Sunday, February 2, 2014

I am a Feminist. Don't be Afraid.

Let me please introduce you to Liz.

Liz Lemon is a character on the tv show 30 Rock. As her boss describes her, she is a feminist. 

Does that scare you?! Because most people are afraid of feminism(ists). Most (not all) people still believe that feminists are men-hating, bra-burning, no shaving, yelling monsters. 

Be honest, this is probably what you thought of.

Yes, feminists tend to be outspoken. But, to me, it is what the theory and practice of feminism needs. 

We were posed a series of questions about Feminist Standpoint Theory in our class. The first was this to analyze the following statement.

Dominant groups in society have little motivation to understand non dominant group.
I believe that in accordance with the Feminist Standpoint Theory (FST) that this would be true. Let me explain why.
There are five assumptions in FST are assumptions that they believe dictate the way the world works. I will try and explain them in basic terms, so both you and I are on the same page.
1. Having social classes makes it hard to understand how people interact.

2. When the classes (groups) are different, they will believe the others lives are opposite of their own. Trying to understand the dominant group can be negative and often not the whole story.

3. Whatever the dominant group believes, the rest of society is expected to follow.

4. The lesser of the groups have a vision that represents struggle and achievement.

5. Understanding the lesser group can open your eyes to the inequality and can help us create a better world.

Doesn't seem too complicated, right?! Yet, I believe it almost perfectly answers the question we were first asked.

The dominant group are living in the world that they want. They create it, while everyone else just lives in it. Often, their motivation for understanding, would come from a selfish standpoint of trying to improve their own world.

Otherwise, what motivation would the dominant group have? Now, this is making some large assumptions. But, unless they have some underlying drive or passion for the lives of others, they wouldn't have a reason to understand the other groups.

Even though this statement is true, it is what Feminists are trying to fight against. Another major part of FST is that knowledge we gain, is mostly produced by our place in society. We walk and talk like those around us.

The dominant group is talking in their own way, their communication is different. But, understanding how others communicate can be monumental. It can change our world and as feminists believe, it can change it for the better.

There was one last question we were asked...

Does this statement lead to the common belief that feminism is inextricably linked to activism?
My answer is yes, and I believe that other feminists would feel the same (yes, I just admitted to being a feminist). It may not be activism in the protesting, yelling and chaining yourself to buildings way. But activism in making a concentrated effort to have people understand your world and in turn, understanding theirs.
The dominant group may have little motivation to understand the lesser, but that doesn't mean that the war is loss. Make the subordinate group the dominant one.
Be a Liz Lemon, don't be ashamed. 

Credit to Richard West and Lynn H. Turner for their book "Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application" for helping me out with the assumptions.

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