We can never tire of talking about feminism, and indeed we never should. Every time we ask this question-we get different answers, and the different answers give us more things to think about in the ever evolving understanding and application of what feminism means to us. In the recently concluded CAL Southern Africa Planning and Skills-building Workshop, we asked some participants what feminism means to them.
What does feminism mean to you? Share your thoughts.
Feminism for me is change. It can be change from anything to anything else. A lot of people explain feminism as moving away from patriarchy or competing against patriarchal systems. However, I feel that sometimes you can actually use patriarchal systems to your advantage as long as you bring about the desired change that you so wish for.
For me, as a lesbian, feminism is challenging the law, challenging what is prescribed for me, challenging the system, challenging what is seen. It’s about finding out what works for me, what fits me. It’s also about the consciousness: feminism creates a consciousness within me of owning anything I engage in, owning and understanding it so as not to be a follower.
When you look at our position in society, as women – and when I’m saying women I’m using that term really consciously because it can incorporate many other aspects of womanhood; womanhood is not just one thing. When you look at our position as women in society, after so many years of being here, of existing, of being present, we haven’t even come close to addressing the challenges we’ve faced since the beginning of time. But feminism creates a space for people to engage with the relevant issues. You know, everyone has to look at what we are creating for the next generation. Look at what we’re doing now: it’s not as if we’re started something new – feminism has been around forever – but now more than ever we need to claim those spaces and we need to talk about things that are relevant to our realities today and to address those issues with the resources that we have. And when I say resources I don’t need money, I mean relationship amongst each other and so on. It’s about being there, being present, taking charge.
Feminism means being aware of me, of the oppression around my life. For me, it’s opening my eyes to how my power is taken away from me at different moments and how I may be do that to people as well, being conscious of that and trying to change that. So maybe not looking at the big picture and all the scary, huge things that people want to tackle, but just looking at how, for at the moment where I’m at, on that basis how I can start living differently, how I can start supporting practices that are empowering to myself and the people around me.