Post Five: An inital collection of ethnographic data on modern Feminism

For my probe task, I asked my interviewee to ask ten of her friends with whom she conversed with during the week what their opinion of feminism is. I’m particularly curious about modern interpretations of feminism and the reasons for why so many young people seem to be disillusioned with modern feminism and unwilling to identify as feminist, and getting a broad range of opinions seemed a good way to collate more data on the topic.

The answers from the probe led me to see that there seems to be a big disparity between current interpretations of feminism and the actual goals of modern feminism. The popular notion of the man-hating feminist with extreme views, passions and beliefs appears to be alive and well, and seems for many of the young males who provided me with responses a reason to reject the possibility of identifying with feminism, as as a feminist. It made me question what it is we, as a society, have to do in order to reform and rebuild opinions on feminism; how we can redefine the term ‘feminism’ to escape from the current misconstrued definition and the stereotypical extremes that people seem to associate with the movement, and how we can create a movement of equality that all are willing to identify with. It fascinates me that so many of the male opinions on feminism gathered from my probe were so far from what my own view of feminism is, and has made me wonder how we can bridge this gap of understanding.

My interview provided me with more (personally speaking) optimistic results; my interviewee happily identified as a feminist, acknowledging gender equality issues as personal issues which have defined her character and which continue to define her path in life. We both agreed that feminism is still a very relevant movement, and that the reasons for some young adults feeling uncomfortable with identifying as feminist is because of a misconstrued interpretation of what feminism actually is; a movement which my interviewee defined as “identifying the imbalance of opportunities between the sexes [and a] wish for both to have equality”. The passion with which some people speak about feminism was identified as a potential reason for this discomfort (which was then supported by my probe results), as “sometimes those who are very passionate can be quite intimidating” or interpreted as threatening. Ultimately, my interviewee stated her belief that more people need to voice their opinions and to call out injustice when they see it, regardless of their gender. She cited Emma Watson’s “He for She” campaign as an important example of modern feminism.

Through my interview and my probe results, I believe I have gathered samples of two very different modern views on what feminism is, who feminists are, and what the expectations and goals of feminism are. Of course, the answers that I received from my probe task entirely depended on who my interviewee happened to converse with and question during the week, what her own personal and political beliefs are, and what her circle of friends’ personal and political beliefs are. The answers that I received from this probe were obviously only brief snapshots of opinions, and they definitely made me want to dig deeper into these answers and understand the reasonings and backgrounds of those who gave the answers.

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Image reference:

Correll, G. Feminist Activity Book, [online]. <http://www.booktopia.com.au/feminist-activity-book-gemma-correll/prod9781580056304.html&gt;.

Madeleine Lumley Prince

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