I don’t think my parents have ever been considered middle-class, the one plausible exception being the time period in which my mother was enlisted in the Army, but I’m not even sure of that. When people talk about feminism lately it all seems to come back to their annoyance with white, middle-class, heterosexual women and how they seem to ignore the experiences of women who do not fall into some or all of the categories they do. I think it’s time to stop putting labels on things every time we turn around, but in case you’re interested in my labels here the list. I am a white woman born to parents who have probably been classified as working poor for most, if not all of, my life. I’m a person living with a disability acquired at birth. What this means for me is that I require either a motorized wheelchair or a manual one to get around. I have gone to college but had to leave because of insurance cutbacks reducing the amount of assistance I was allowed to proceed. I am also bisexual and even though I don’t think that should matter a hill of beans to anyone who isn’t living with me apparently some people will make a big deal out of anything.
As you can probably tell I represent a minority of some form two or three times over. That being said I believe that all this focus on categories and labels is doing more harm than good for the concept of feminism. All women are unique and all our life’s variances are unique to us as individuals, because of that we all have important things contribute to the conversation. My younger sister spent 18 years in the same house with me and my parents but her childhood was different from mine, her school and work experiences are different from mine and therefore her perspective while it might be similar to mine is still completely unique to her.
Feminism shouldn’t be about which group of women have the most difficulties. We all have problems, some of the more unique to our particular circumstances than others. Instead of everyone claiming that they have it harder maybe we should all agree to stop shouting and listen to one another like reasonable adults. This means listening to man as well. Recently I’ve noticed that women are shying away from using the word feminism, in part due to the mandating connotations it acquired somewhere along the way. I think it is time to redefine and reclaim that word, even as we work to do the same for ourselves.