Feminism and Compassion: Way Back to Love
Talking about feminism have often triggered several reactions, due to the label that is assumed to the word. You can ask several people around you, and you will probably receive various reactions on the word: “Feminist or Feminism”, from ‘freaking cool people’ to ‘very angry, always-complaining people”. But to be honest, it all depends to whom you asked the question to, and how much have that person been engaged with the issues. Labels are always contradictory, and the same goes to labels toward Feminist and Feminism.
Then how does a feminist react to negative labeling? Those sexist comments that is often affiliated to being a feminist and feminism?
To me, it is hard to have a straightforward answer, because the complexity of the feminism concept. And like any other articles in FreakMagz, I do not intend to convince you that my opinion is the true source of truth, instead, I want to discuss about the term: ‘compassion’, as one of the value to be a feminist.
This narrative on compassion came to me through a discussion I had with my friends and from my own personal experiences. I used to think that people who make racist and sexist comments are just a bunch of imbeciles. And that thought is then translated to my angry mind, that made me formulated them (those racist and sexist folks) as my mortal enemy. And you know what, these folks are often my friends and families. So how did I respond them?
The key word is: “compassion”, it gave me the pathway to be mindful and grounded. Maybe because these folks are valuable to me: friends and families, hence the reason why I have compassion for them and willing to have endless discussions and debates on opinions of racism and sexism. But it turned out, being compassionate to them allowed me to have a civil discussion where differences in perspectives are totally okay. These debates become a tool to understand each other, rather than trying to prove: who is right and who is wrong. I realized that in some cases, those folks (who are sexists and racists) perhaps came from an environment that have made them internalized these insensitive and patriarchal values for so long. Perhaps they have not been engaged in critical dialogues on other perspectives, to which it came to a point that they think being racist and sexist is: “normal”.
Being compassionate is important, because by being compassionate we make efforts to understand than assume. Spreading compassion can nudge people to come together (although living in different parts of the world), just look at the Global Women’s March phenomena. And in the feminist movement, we need as much people as possible to stand with us as a critical mass to form a bigger pressure for changes.
And changes needs a vehicle, and in this regard, one of its vehicle is through FEMINISM.
Some folks might be afraid to be affiliated with the label Feminism, due to the many misconceptions about the term. But the fact of the matter is, all types of “–isms” are prone to be affiliated to some kind of label, even feminism. And every “–ism” have its own tone and ‘pronounce’ its own narrative. But, the way we choose to use these “–isms” makes the whole difference, one attitude to another. And if we act upon it without compassion in mind, then there’s a huge chance that it becomes another oppressive power. This may seem like a skeptic note, for those who have been hurt by some form of inequality or injustice, and this not to belittle those experiences, but having compassion in feminism channels us to go beyond “an eye for an eye”, it proceeds us to go back to its original roots: equality, equity….and love.