Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The recent invitation and visit of a professor popular for her antifeminist views to our campus has given us cause to reflect upon the misinformed and divisive conversations that increasingly circulate on university campuses around what it means to take up and wear the label feminist. The invitation and event, as well as our ongoing struggle to resist practices of oppression, has moved us as a department to write this letter.

Popular understandings of feminist — the sort that tabloids rekindle every so often to boost readership levels — paint feminism as a singular political position held by women intent on blaming men for society’s ills and oppressions.

This definition of feminism doesn't have to take into account the many different and varying opinions that are invested in social justice and working toward social change. Indeed, such “common sense” views do not have to grapple with the complex forms of oppression that actively strip many groups and individuals of their right to be understood as human.

With this in mind, we use this space to note some — although certainly not all — of the urgent issues that pre-occupy feminist activists and scholars today. Feminists in 2014 pay close attention to the ways that sexism, homophobia, racism and poverty marginalize millions of people around the world.

Feminists today are also committed to ending violence. We urgently see the need to dismantle the structures of power and privilege — most poignantly identified in the deaths and disappearances of at least 824 indigenous women and girls in Canada. We support communities and groups that have experienced racism and sexism and other forms of oppression in the post-9/11 world.

Feminists also contest the growing gap between the rich and the poor and importantly, what that means for the everyday lives of people who struggle to live in dignity. In women and gender studies departments, scholars continue to emphasize that analyses of gender inequalities must question, rather than replicate, what we call “binary thinking,” that is, putting categories like the term “men” and “women” into opposition. For this reason, feminists insist on complex gender identifications — which range across a variety of sexual, racial, economic and locational sites, rather than solely within “male” and “female” categories.

With this understanding, feminists are also committed to questioning and disrupting the structures of power that hurt and harm people who identify as “men” . We seek to bring awareness to the fact that many racialized men, poor men, indigenous men and queer men experience oppression and marginalization too.

And finally, coming closer to home, feminists at Queen’s remain concerned about the violence that binaries like “men vs. women,” or slogans like “no means yes” do in our community. Gender Studies scholars are committed to teaching, research and activist work that embraces diversity and we struggle to build solidarity and alliances across differences that benefit a range of communities.

The Queen's Gender Studies Department and Community

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