[This is a guest post from Carli Trujillo]
Community assessment is an important first step toward raising awareness and instituting social change. I generally think of Salt Lake City as a fairly liberal city a bubble inside of the Utah bubble, if you will. However, I have noticed that in the United States and worldwide, feminism hasn’t quite caught on yet. Although many more people believe in equality, only 23% of women and 16% of men consider themselves feminists. Curious about how many locals call themselves the “F word,” I took to the streets of SLC to have some conversations about how people identify themselves.
I asked people of all gender identities/expressions, races, and ages a simple question: Do you identify as a feminist? The results shocked me. I chose to keep the full names of the interviewees anonymous, but here are some responses and my thoughts:
“I don’t think so. But neither the contrary. I believe in people as individuals, not as gender” -G
This “gender blind” attitude, while possibly well-intentioned, is certainly not an answer to gender-based discrimination. Ignoring gender can be ignoring an important part of folk’s identities.
“I think I do… Is that a good or a bad thing?” -B
Looks like this person is confused about what feminism really is, and is hung up on the bad rap that the title carries.
“I don’t have any problems with feminists, I think every girl I know is one” -C
Unfortunately, this person is buying into the traditional idea that feminism is only for women, girls, or female-identified individuals. Reality: feminism is for everyone.
“I don’t believe we live in a patriarchal society, so it’s kind of a problem when blaming an inequality on the “patriarchy” because then it just becomes a straw man to attack. The patriarchy has become kind of the go to scapegoat for all injustice based on gender. Thus anything and everything can be blamed on the patriarchy to further a political, or social agenda” -G
This person accepts the idea that the patriarchy is a myth, when in reality, the it is alive and well today.
I was pretty disappointed with these responses. Although my interactions aren’t expansive enough to make implications about SLC as a whole, they do illustrate that there is still a dire lack of awareness about what feminism is, isn’t, and should be. There are still many people who are offended and threatened by the idea of gender inclusivity and equality. There are countless others who subscribe to a more exclusive white, upper-class, cis-centered type of feminism.
Personally, I am the kind of feminist that believes in equality at its most basic level. I want to see the mainstream feminism movement start to be more inclusive of the trans* community, people of color, and everyone who else who may not fit the traditional mold of the “perfect feminist.” I believe in equal rights, and for me, a very special flavor of radical feminism allows me to imagine and fight for a society that is more equal and more accepting of the beauty in diversity, and I can’t wait for the day when everyone identifies as a feminist.