By Jessica Englund
I’m feeling slightly misplaced lately. It seems as if I am so far in over my head that I can’t seem to get above water. I seem to be on time, for the most part, regarding school and classes. But I feel as if I have dug myself a hole so deep in theoretical bullshit that I can’t quite seem to get myself out or see reality clearly. I am referring to my own views on feminism and its radical implications. Apparently, I am more radical than even I would have guessed.
When it comes to defining and discussing the idea that is feminist movement, I think that one set definition is both impossible and impractical. Although it would appear at first glance to unify feminists and push us all towards a common (and written) goal, but I would argue that not only is such a unification impossible but detrimental to feminism. Universal ‘sisterhood’ isn’t possible and would alienate many feminists across the globe. Rather than advocating for a universal definition, why not use the resources one has and one’s personal manifesto/a, or ‘feminism’, to create the change? For myself, I favor a certain definition because it fits within my personal and academic views on feminism. For example, I don’t like to use the terms ‘woman’ or ‘man’ in any definition of feminism because I feel it merely supports the gender binary that many feminists are trying to deconstruct.
What then do we have left? Am I to impose my own definition onto others? Would it not be better for everyone to have their own personal views and act accordingly?
I must admit, however, that I do utilize my definition of feminism when writing papers because it explains the basis from which I write and the reasons behind my arguments. If I did not offer a definition, my papers and theses would be lost in a labyrinth of confusion or misinterpretation. For coalition work, a definition, or rather a manifesto/a, is almost necessary. Not because one cannot have a coalition or create change without one, but that it guides the group towards a goal and offers a vision. Does feminism as a movement constitute a coalition or is it past that point?
The question that continues to infiltrate and jumble my thoughts is: Does the problematizing of the many aspects of feminism (like the terms ‘woman’ and ‘man’) negatively affect the movement and if so, how does one reconcile this dilemma?
*My ambitions lie in radical feminist theory that challenges social constructions and hierarchies that are firmly embedded in everyday life. I firmly believe that radical theory is essential to feminist movement to continue to propel it towards a more favorable version of society, culture, institutions, and life.*