Bringing Feminist Theory Home
What do you hear when you hear the word feminism? It is a word that fills me
with hope, with energy. It brings to mind loud acts of refusal and rebellion as
well as the quiet ways we might have of not holding on to things that diminish
us. It brings to mind women who have stood up, spoken back, risked lives,
homes, relationships in the struggle for more bearable worlds. It brings to
mind books written, tattered and worn, books that gave words to something,
a feeling, a sense of an injustice, books that, in giving us words, gave us the
strength to go on. Feminism: how we pick each other up. So much history in
a word; so much it too has picked up.
I write this book as a way of holding on to the promise of that word, to
think what it means to live your life by claiming that word as your own: be-
ing a feminist, becoming a feminist, speaking as a feminist. Living a feminist
life does not mean adopting a set of ideals or norms of conduct, although it
might mean asking ethical questions about how to live better in an unjust and
unequal world (in a not- feminist and antifeminist world); how to create rela-
tionships with others that are more equal; how to find ways to support those
who are not supported or are less supported by social systems; how to keep
coming up against histories that have become concrete, histories that have
become as solid as walls.
It is worth noticing from the outset that the idea that feminism is about
how to live, about a way of thinking how to live, has often been understood as
part of feminist history, as dated, associated with the moralizing or even polic-
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