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Feminism for Everybody
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A well-known U.S. feminist scholar, Chandra Mohanty stated in 1991, “I do challenge the notion, ‘I am, therefore I resist.’”  It means that questions of identity can never be reduced to automatic self-referential, individualist ideas of the political or feminist subject. Likewise, feminism has developed to go beyond the basic question, ‘how basic is gender difference?, attempting to understand multiply intersected cause of women’s oppression: patriarchy, capitalism, racism and/or homophobia. However, it is true that feminism has been misunderstood as a ‘simple’ theory of sexism and feminists have been regarded as a radical group of women: man-haters, angry lesbians, and/or those having complex of femininity. Such stigmatization does not only devalue the emancipatory aspects of feminism, but also function to (re)produce the androcentric ideologies of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nationality. Here I would like to share the virtue of feminism as a theory and practice to fight for justice, attempting to deconstruct the androcentric ignorance and misunderstanding and to build coalition among people across boundaries of gender, race, class, and sexuality.

   

Feminism, Women’s Movements to End Sexist Oppression
The meaning of feminism has never been historically stable or fixed. Its meaning and practice have been shifted across time and places. Yet, the term ‘feminism’ usually refers to political activism by women on behalf of women. It is regarded as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression, which signals an emancipatory politics for women, as well as the possibility of change and women as a group of historical agents. Also, all feminists, whether or not they choose to describe themselves as ‘feminists,’ have shared the critique of masculinist ideologies and the desire to undo patriarchal power regimes. Therefore, feminism inherently embraces movements for equality with the current system and significant struggles that have attempted to change the system of injustice.
In fact, feminist theories and Women’s Studies as discipline cannot be disentangled from women’s movements. The First Wave feminist movement, beginning in 1848, struggled to gain full equality with men in politics, education, employment, and law at a time when women as a group were treated as a lower caste or class than men. The Second Wave, beginning from the mid of the1960s, grew from the activism of women in the civil rights, new left, student and black nationalist movements of the sixties. And Korean feminist aspiration is intensely related to Korea’s democratization movement with resistance against military regime, U.S. imperialism, and dictatorship. For both western feminists and Korean feminists, therefore, political activism to resist the various forms of oppression, injustice, and discrimination against women and effort to transform the systems and structures caused by them is crucial for feminist politics.

Feminism, Not Just for Gender Justice
One of the feminist contributions is to reveal the constitutive nature of gender. Whereas sex is biological and anatomical characteristics attributed to males and females, gender is culturally and socially structured relationships between women and men. It refers to proper attitude, behavior, ways of speaking and thinking, proper (expected) spheres, and proper (sexual) activities according to gender. Gendered meaning is attributed to many things we encounter in daily lives such as toys, colors, names, clothes, and etc. Feminists uncovered how gender works as a categorization system to demarcate people and as a discriminatory tool to women. However, the way of using gender including its notion and analysis, have been changed among feminists.
Feminists in the First Wave, who do not see gender as basic, argued for a politics of equality. Since difference was used to legitimize the unequal treatment of women, it must be repudiated theoretically and politically for women’s rightful place in society. Thus, feminists had to emphasize equality and the existence of fundamental human ‘sameness’ that overrides natural differences. On the contrary, feminists of the Second Wave developed the gender specific and differentiated perspective of women. They tried to revalorize the excluded and denigrated “other” in androcentric society, arguing that women could have better perspective due to their excluded and exploited experiences.
Since then, feminist theories have provided intellectual tools by which historical agents (women) can examine the injustices they confront, and can build arguments to support their particular demands for change. Due to the feminist theories on gender, women can understand and analyze their experiences and situations as subordinated groups, enable to resist interconnected systematic oppressions, and pursue political changes. 
However, feminism is not just engaging in gender justice. Understanding of the constitutive and multiply interconnected nature of oppression, feminists challenged the androcentric ideas of power, politics, and resistance. Particularly due to Third World feminist and postcolonial feminist endeavor to rewrite and rethink history based on the specific locations and histories of struggle of people of color and postcolonial peoples, and the day-to-day strategies of survival utilized by such peoples, feminists have developed the notion of intersection of oppressions that has generated a multifaceted social critique.
For contemporary feminists, accordingly, gender is actually not an independent factor to determine every aspect of society and history. But instead, as a relation of inequality based on socially constructed femininity and masculinity, gender is always implicated in multiple relations of power. Since technologies of power are intertwined with all structures and discursive components of (neo)colonial relations, racial difference, state power, and nationalism, which have operated through specific normalizations of masculinity and femininity, feminist methodologies have utilized gender as an ‘analytical category’ for a better understanding of transnational patriarchal links of culture and capital as important reactionary interests. Gender, therefore, is not just about women and men, but is about the state, the nation, capitalism, colonialism, globalization, and any kind of power relations.

Feminism for Everybody
One of frequent questions asked to feminists is whether men can be included in feminist arena or not? My answer is yes! Feminists are made, not born. Before changing the society, we have to change ourselves. We should transform our thinking, perspectives, political beliefs, and behaviors, as excavating internalized sexism, racism, and homophobia. We need to learn about how patriarchy as a system of domination interconnected with capitalism, racism, imperialism, and nationalism, becomes institutionalized and how it is perpetuated and maintained. This is the process of raising our consciousness as feminist. One can become a feminist through the consciousness-raising process, and one becomes a believer in feminist politics through choice and action, whether they are physically men or women.
Conversion to feminist thinking does not require the declaration that “I am a feminist.” Instead, you can just say that “I advocate feminism,” as black feminist bell hooks indicated, if you believe in political action for a better society with sincere commitment to feminist politics to fight for justice. Without males as allies in struggle, feminist movement will not progress. Most importantly, our enemy is sexist thought and behavior, not men!

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