“The state” is an institution that can (and often does) systematically oppress folks. Of course, certain feminist practice has worked within the political/legal system to try to change law/policy to better the lives of women. What still needs to be done?
Throughout the course of history, the Untied States has achieved major advancements in terms of empowering women and granting them freedom and equality. However, it becomes clear that there is still much to be done before being able to speak of a social establishment where absolute equality is ascertained. One of the most pressing issues that still needs to be worked on is violence against women. True, government has instituted the Violence against Women Act (1994), and this has allowed law enforcement to focus on prosecuting those who assault women. However, it is important to promote a change in society’s mindset. Women are still very much considered lesser than men; violence against women is accepted in various sectors of society and this is something that must be gradually changed from educational establishments (and within the family unit itself).
With such an overwhelming project (to steer the huge ocean liner of a problem toward justice), how can we contribute to the solution?
In order to effectively contribute in a change process that ultimately results in equality towards women, it is important to first come to terms with the reality that equality has not been (fully) harnessed. Specifically, in matters concerning the feminist movement, the clarity of its definitions has been lost (Hooks 6). It appears that feminism no longer know what it champions for. Therefore, it is important for each of us to have clarity on our position concerning women and feminism; this will allow us to know exactly what we are willing and able to do in terms of contributing to the problem’s solution.
How can we be activists with changing laws/policies?
Regardless of whether or not laws/policies change, the ideals that have kept feminism alive over the years remain unchanged. It matters not what the laws state, what matters is that the principles behind feminism continue to champion for equality and freedom (unalienable, universal, and constitutional rights that all people are entitled to).
What is the future of feminism?
Feminism will eventually disappear and be replaced with a new movement, one that is more associated with equality, solidarity, cooperation, and freedom. Throughout the course of history, the feminist movement has largely been associated with anger and hostility against the social establishment. Anger and hostility will amount to nothing; as women (and society in general) realize this, the movement will be replaced by one that is more consistent with women’s needs and wants.
What issues do we need to attend to?
It is important to deal with the anger and hostility that certain sectors of society have developed (sentiments that have taken from the feminist movement instead of contributing to it). As well, it is important to deal with the fact that the country’s laws have failed to bring about changes in its people’s mindset. It is not enough to punish assaults against women; it is necessary to prevent such attacks as well.
What should our activism LOOK like?
Our activism should look like a peaceful, solidary movement that does not antagonize males or the general society. It is important for men and women to find common ground; for both of them to peacefully work together in bringing about equality. This is a vision that today’s feminist movement fails to transmit.
How can we use what we’ve learned to transform our lives on all three of Collins’ levels (personal–symbolic–institutional)?
First, at a personal level it is possible for us to reevaluate our beliefs, feelings, and ideas on the subject of feminism. Most of us have antagonized males for too long; it is time to revise this position and modify it so as to yield faster, more efficient results. Second, at a symbolic level, it is important for us to stop seeking justice, but to promote educational campaigns that effectively contribute to a change in the way in which society perceives women (so that they are no longer objectified). Finally, at an institutional level, it is important to institute laws, policies, and programs that focus more on preventing assaults on women (as opposed to punishing such assaults).
What are you taking from this course that you’ll put into practice in your lives?
Upon reviewing this course, I must confess that I will retain the idea that feminism has lost its course and must therefore be reevaluated. What we have taken to be positive feminism for so long is in fact negative feminism. Based on this, I will continue striving for female equality, but not based on anger and hostility, but on solidarity, respect, and friendship instead.