January 28, 2017
In my 20s and even in my teens, I was proud to call myself a feminist. That in the 1970s. I was mostly in rural Manitoba in Victoria Beach and going to high school in Selkirk, Manitoba in my teens. In my 20s I lived in Winnipeg and, for a short time in Ottawa, Ontario.
Fast forward to my 40s in the late 1990s and to Salt Spring Island, BC where I moved with my son Luke.
International Women’s Day rolled around and I read out loud a poem I had written with a distinctly feminist tone. The room was packed with women and many who would call themselves feminist but I knew they were nervous and even embarrassed with the poemI read to them.
I guess it is the difference between living in a city and a rural area, where people tend to know everyone and are more careful about how they conduct themselves. I was surprised, though, because I believe most people on Salt Spring Island would see themselves as quite progressive.
Fast forward to this month, Donald Trump joked about grabbing women’s sexual parts, called us ugly, ETC ETC ETC as he campaigned for and because the USA president.
Suddenly, the word feminist has become popular again as we fear reproductive rights going down the drain and do not want sexual assault to be considered okay, ETC,ETC,ETC.
In an indirect way, Donald Trump has served as a catalyst to bring women together, including younger women. Note: Winnipeg had a huge woman’s march and so did Salt Spring Island with 600 walking on an island with only 10,000 people.
Huh? When I think about it. Richard Nixon was president in the 1970s when I was blossoming as a feminist.
Does this mean that we, as women, can become complacent when we enjoy a few rights but when we perceive this rights to be taken away from us that we take to the streets and wave placards to show the powers-that-be that we rise up and continue to rise up to protect those rights?
The following is an editorial I wrote when I was a feminist in the 1970s and 1980s. This was also in the era when The Manitoba Women’s Newspaper, the forerunner to HERizons magazine, was birthed in Winnipeg:
The Manitoba Women’s Newspaper
Political options for women — editorial
by Tanya Lester
A feminist is a person who can be described in many different ways.
To some people, a feminist is someone who works towards equality for humankind. To others, she is a woman who has burned her bra and is constantly trying to psychologically castrate men.
According to Living Webster Encyclopedia Dictionary, a feminist is a human who believes in a “doctrine advocating that social and political rights of women be equal to those possessed by men.” And certainly, among the women’s movement, there are many feminist at almost every social level and within most political parties who are working to bring about equality of the sexes.
But within the movement, women are usually described (and most often incorrectly) as simply feminists or radical feminists. Feminists are considered to be moderate, non-violent types who want to eventually bring about equality of the sexes by working slowly without “rocking the boat”. Radical feminists are seen to be militants who like “to raise hell” and demand that change to equalize the sexes should come about immediately “or else…” Although it would make things less complicated, nothing concerning society and politics is quite that simple.
Each feminist, like an human being, chooses consciously or unconsciously, to follow one of many political beliefs. If she chooses to be a radical feminist, she believes that women’s inequality exists in every society and, because it is so deep-rooted, it cannot be eliminated by other social changes. For example, if change brough about an equal society for both whites and Indians in Canada, the radical feminist would argue that sexism in both cultures would still remain.
Therefore, a radical feminist believes feminist businesses, where women can work without being subjected to discrimination, give the sex power. She feels that women, because they are the reproducing sex, are biologically unequal to men. But she believes, through technological change (eg test tube babies), inferiority of the feminine sex will no longer exist. Some radical feminists have chosen to be lesbians until that change takes place.
When people talk about the moderate feminist, they are usually talking about the liberal feminist. She or he believes that women should not be hindered by law or custom. Taking into account the individual, a liberal feminist believes that women should have the same opportunities for education and career advancements that men enjoy. They lobby to try to change discriminatory laws so that women can rise “up the ladder” with freedom. The liberal opposes any regulations on the individual’s private sex life.
The Marxist feminist looks forward to a social revolution. She believes that inequalities of the sexes will disappear when they is longer a class society. She believes capitalists exploit women, through poor working conditions and low wages, because it is necessary for them to do so for their own economic gain.
The socialist feminist, too, believes in the abolition of class. But, she views it only as a starting point. Marx, according to the socialist feminist, did not present a thorough analysis of women’s oppression. The socialist feminist believes that domestic work is just as important as working outside the home. Although she is concerned with women and their needs in the industrial work force, the socialist feminist thinks women who work in the home should receive wages from the government. The socialist feminist also considers the inequalities suffered by women in the third world.
It is important for the feminist to determine her political beliefs. Then, if she decides to run for political office, she will choose a party which reflects her personal philosophies as a feminist. Or if she works for a political party, she will use her energies to support a candidate most likely to work for the changes that she sees as necessary. Even the way a feminist votes should not be divorced from her views on equality o the sexes.
By knowing her political philosophy, the feminist can decide to join the women’s organization most suited to her own beliefs. She can choose the ’causes’ for which she will lobby on the basis of these beliefs…..
To read more posts in this blog, featuring a wide variety of topics and non-fiction and fictional writing, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com or tealeaf56.wordpress.com
Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (both available for purchase on amazon.com and from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters and Women Right/Writes.
Tanya now works as a psychic, specializing in tea leaf reading and tarot, as well as being a reiki master and a fulltime house sitter. For more on this, go to her website at teareading.wordpress.com or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. Or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her cell at 250-538-0086.