Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Feminism: Underpinning Our Family Values

"Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement" -Author unknown, The Torch 14 September 1987.

Feminism is very important to Ealesy and I. It's our opinion that the vast majority of social problems the world faces can be attributed to a system of male dominance sometimes referred to as "the patriarchy" (which loosely defined means "rule of the fathers"). The late great feminist activist Andrea Dworkin describes this concept thusly:
"Sexism is the foundation on which all tyranny is built. Every social form of heirarchy and abuse is modeled on male-over-female domination".

This belief (that all forms of oppression stem from the oppression of women) is a fundamental tennent of radical feminism, one of the major schools of feminist theory with which we* identify.

Some other radical feminist theories include:
  • For women to achieve liberation from male dominance they need a woman identified movement, for women, by women. It cannot hope to be achieved as a by-product of a movement focused on other struggles (whether that be environmental, class, race etc.).
  • Feminism needs to be dedicated to making visible the invisible forms of women's subjugation.
  • Radical feminism is about women teaching themselves, each other and the world to value women, to see the work that women do, how strong, dynamic and inspirational women are, that women are survivors.
  • Feminism seeks to abolish dichotomies that devalue women (eg man vs woman, human vs animal, public sphere vs private sphere, work vs home etc). Radical feminism recognises that women are not the same as men, that they do not need or want to be the same as men. Radical feminists believe women should be equal to men and different to men at the same time.
  • Well-being for all (women, men, children, animals, the environment) depends upon listening to women, learning from women's knowledge. This will save the world; developing new ways of thinking and living based on women's experiences and what they have learned from their unique vantage point as oppressed people in patriarchy.
  • Radical feminism is also about recording all that women do and have done. It is about celebrating women!
  • Radical feminism has a particular focus on bodily issues. While liberal feminists might focus on rights and equal opportunity (and public sphere issues such as getting the vote), radical feminists focus on women's oppression as experienced in and because of their bodily differences from men. This includes, but is not limited to; rape, domestic violence, sexuality, motherhood and reproduction.

We believe that raising our children in a feminist household will give them the skills to become compassionate humanitarians. Feminism is the only truly human rights focused movement because feminists care about women's human rights as well as mens. At the same time, however, feminism is so much more than a human rights movement because the survival of the planet and non-human animals are central issues of concern to feminism as well.

Feminist families such as ours know that patriarchy is oppressive to all, because when the freedom of one group (such as women) is under attack, freedom for all is attacked. Patriarchy prevents women from truly being self-determined, whole persons. Their identities are prescribed to them by social attitudes. In particular women are taught that to be valued they must be feminine (eg, have long hair, be mothers, wear pink, have sex with men, wear dresses, be peaceful and nurture everyone but themselves).

Likewise, men are unable to become truly self-determined persons because they are taught from birth that to be male is to be masculine (eg. have short hair, be leaders, wear blue, don't be attracted to men, sexually conquer as many women as possible, don't wear pink, be aggressive, don't be a wimp). Men fare better than women within this system because all things masculine are valued at the expense of the feminine, but the fact remains that patriarchy oppresses men too because men who deviate from the accepted masculine behaviour are punished, just as the women who deviate from feminine behaviour are punished.

There is hope and parents have great power for creating social change in order to bring about the destruction of patriarchy. Everyday feminist families take small actions that have revolutionary potential such as daring to let their toddler sons grow long hair and wear pink and frills, or their daughters to not wear pink, to play with toy lawn-mowers and trucks as well as dolls etc. We believe that everyday we are creating a happier and safer future for all by raising our children with feminist values.
“A feminist world is a community where...women are safe anywhere any time....the weapons of war and other wasteful and destructive toys of technology have disappeared; people of the world work together to develop an economy that benefits all of us and conserves the planet; trust replaces fear, love replaces violence, and these hateful times are relics in the archives of patriarchy.Statement issued by Women’s Pentagon Action, 1980.
For more about feminism check out the following links:
The Online Feminist Workshop


The Feminist Theory Website

Feminist Issues

Prostitution Research and Education

Hands Off Our Ovaries

Feminist Quotes

More Feminism Quotes

Stop Violence Against Women

Coalition Against Trafficking Women


Feminist Books


Feminist Thought

Feminism is For Everyobody

Feminist Politics and Human Nature

Public Man Private Woman

Black & Indigenous Feminism

Aint I a Woman?

Talkin' Up to the White Woman

Black Feminist Thought

Feminist Theory from Margin to Center

Book List

Book List I



Ecofeminism: Women, Culture Nature

Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature

Feminism and the Mastery of Nature

Animals and Women

Wild Politics

Radical Feminism


Radically Speaking

The Sexual Contract

Man-made Women

Right Wing Women

The Whole WomanThe Scum Manifesto

Heaps more Here

Marxist and Socialist Feminism

The Radical Women Manifesto

The Dialective of Sex

Book List

Book List I


On Motherhood

Of Woman Born

The Mask of Motherhood

From Motherhood to Mothering

The Mother Machine

Our Bodies Our Babies

Defiant Birth

Motherhood: power and oppression

On Pornography & Prostitution

Not For Sale

The Idea of Prostitution

Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress

On Violence

The Will to Violence

The Demon Lover

Life and Death

On Appearance

Beauty and Misogyny

The Beauty Myth

Fat is a Feminist Issue

On Revolutionary Diet

The Sexual Politics of Meat

The Pornography of Meat

Political Palate

On Patriarchy coming between Women

Female Chauvinist Pigs

A Passion for Friends

Sisterhood is Global


A Room of One's Own

Three Guineas

The Second Sex

The Female Eunuch
Famous Feminists

Simone de Beauvoir

Patricia Hill Collins

Andrea Dworkin

Germaine Greer

bell hooks

Sheila Jeffreys

Maria Mies

Val Plumwood

Vandana Shiva

Virginia Woolf

*It should be noted that while Ealesy is a pro-feminist man he cannot be a feminist himself. In his own words:
"I had a male teacher in grade 10 who was always telling us he was a feminist, but it never sat right with me. I don't understand how he could have any real understanding of the oppression women face in everyday life and as such could not be a feminist.

I identify as pro-radical feminist as I agree with the arguments this group puts forward and support the stances they take on a number of issues. However, having never been a woman or subject to the oppression they face in their daily life, I would find in condescending and patronising to suggest I was a feminist."

As for me and whether all women can be feminists or not, we refer to the words of Gloria Steinem "In my heart, I think a woman has two choices; either she's a feminist or a masochist."