Feminism is different for everyone and can be interpreted differently. Everyone has their own versions of it, but there are at least five things every feminist can do to be a more effective feminist.
1. Realize that other people may disagree with you.
Many feminists are amazing, intelligent and opinionated young women, but when trying to tell someone about feminism, it is important to know and realize that someone will inevitably disagree with what you believe. That needs to be understood. There could be a variety of reasons why someone could disagree anywhere between being a sexist or due to the obvious racist history of feminism. Acknowledging that there is an existing person’s belief system is important to not only changing the feminism you practice for the better, but also to winning people over to support feminism. In addition, acknowledging that someone believes something respectfully increases the likelihood that they could come to believe what you believe since you have been kind and respectful.
2. Be Inclusive
Many feminist, primarily white feminists, forget that feminism is intended to be for everyone. Feminism is intended to fight for equality among all people. It is important to remember to include everyone in your fight for equality. Absentmindedly, many groups are left out and marginalized by feminism; taking care to see to your fight being about equality among all is vital to being a good feminist as well as to continually promoting feminism globally. It is not inclusive to be gender, sex, or race blind. Acknowledging differences and carefully making sure to include those that are not like you will help to expand feminism and increase personal understanding of the struggles of others.
3. Listen more than you talk
Many feminists, including myself, love to share their beliefs with others and love to make their voices heard. Fortunately for all of us, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you find yourself talking incessantly and never listening to anyone else, there will never be an opportunity for you to glean knowledge from others. Remember that other people have good ideas as well and it is necessary to listen to those other people to become the best possible feminist you can be. Understanding why a person may disagree with feminism or coming to understand that others may not not really have a clear understanding of what feminism is takes one thing over everything else: listening. If you don’t listen, you’ll never truly be able to help, reducing yourself to nothing more than a spewing fountain of information that will one day run dry.
4. Explain your beliefs in an educational manner
Many feminists explain their beliefs as if everyone should agree with them and should already know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, feminism can be a new and frankly very shocking idea to many different people and cultures. If explained correctly, it can be accepted and practiced by people who were absentmindedly sexist. If explained combatively, it can cause those who may have otherwise become feminist to believe that it is a combative and evil practice. Explaining feminism kindly and in a manner to people that is not demeaning makes everyone feel wonderful and increases the likelihood that someone will become a feminist as well.
5. Educate yourself constantly
Feminism is a living practice that is changing and moving forward quickly. It is important to continue reading about new ideas, continue following feminist bloggers and writers and to dig deep into the past as well as the present of feminism. No, you don’t have to be a Women’s Studies major. No, you don’t have to read every single pamphlet ever published and fill your house and Kindle with books you would never be able to finish before dying. However, it is important to use spare time to read one book or maybe two that helps to better the understanding and history of feminism in order to change modern malignant practices. When we understand the problems, we can better define and create solutions.
Feminism has come a long way, but is nowhere near perfect at this time. There is work to do, there are people to educate, there are groups to save. By tweaking our feminism just a little bit to be more inclusive and more understanding, we will slowly climb and reach the top of the mountain we call equality.