After the Election: The Role of Feminism

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My husband asked me today what I was going to write about after the election. It’s true that most of my posts over the past few months have been about the Presidential campaign. In fact, you could even say that the election got me off my duff and got me energized enough to write for this blog. My first “political” post was on May 6th of this year and I only had two other posts before that. So I would say that, yes, the election has breathed new life into my blog and has caused me to think more deliberately about the role of women in this society.

Hillary Clinton was the trigger. How could I be a feminist and not respond to her campaign for the Democratic nomination? It was a historic moment and one long-awaited by Second Wave feminists. It made me think not only of women’s place in politics, but also of the differences between Second Wave and Third Wave feminists, since their support for the nominees split almost equally among those for Clinton and those for Obama.

And then there was Sarah Palin. If for nothing else, I will remember her fondly for stirring the feminist waters, making us ask questions like how does a successful woman mix family and work, and can one be a feminist and be against abortion. Because I think the feminist waters need to be not just stirred but churned. Feminists these days need to be asking tough questions about themselves and others. What does make one a feminist? What is the party line for feminism? The feminist ideology? The feminist identity? How do we forge bonds between all facets of the feminist movement? How do we forge bonds between feminists and all women?

Then there is the place of feminism in society. What power for good or for ill has feminism wielded in this country and around the world? What is its role today? What should be its role in the future? What influence has it had in the lives of women–and not just feminist women? How has it changed their lives, and the lives of men and of children? How has it transformed the workplace, the marital bed, the church, the government, the schools?

Feminism, like society, is always changing. That’s because it’s not a force outside of society, but one very intrinsic to society’s inner workings. What a woman thinks of herself and her various roles makes a big difference in what kind of society we have and continue to shape. If she demeans herself, who will protect her children? How will she make herself safer and stronger? Feminism means not having or waiting for someone to do it for you. It also means finding the ways that all woman can contribute to making this a better world to live in. Feminism means not stopping to function–and to care–after the election is over.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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