Feminism is not a dirty word

I didn’t want to have to make my blog a place where I would be labelled another angry feminist. It was my hope — growing up with rights and the ability to go into fields that would have been denied to me previously, and expecting that I would never have to endure being belittled or sexually harassed, because that kind of shit wasn’t tolerated anymore — that this kind of post would be irrelevant. What’s the big deal, many might ask? We have equal rights; I like men! Unfortunately, our “equal” rights are still under debate, and many men still don’t get it either! Even men who seem pro-woman in general, make astoundingly ignorant remarks about women’s issues at times. For the record, I like men too– a lot! But what absolutely exasperates me, is when well adjusted, confident men, who generally love and support their girlfriends, wives, and sisters in being equal humans, say things like they understand why Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, recently said she doesn’t consider herself a feminist, because the man says, “she is trying to ‘clean up’ the word.” A. She was not trying to clean up the word, she was trying to distance herself from it to look reasonable to her male colleagues, and/or perhaps because she truly feels uncomfortable with the word. B. Why does the word feminist need cleaning up? Oh yeah: feminazi; or because angry, hateful men (and a minority of sadly brainwashed women) befouled it.

Another thing to understand is the pervasiveness of internalized misogyny (hatred of women). I have realized that even by identifying more with men, i.e. I am more like a man than a women, women are too concerned with nonsense for me to be friends with, is a form of internalized misogyny. We are taught to believe that men are more capable, less emotional, more rational, and better leaders. In a sense by identifying with men, I am trying to identify myself with power and reason; things I already possess as a human being and woman. It’s similar to when an ex-boyfriend of mine used to discount my arguments as irrational and emotional when he did not agree with me, or even questioning my mental state, by asking me whether I had taken my anti-depressant, and if that was why I was acting a certain way. An interesting side note is that since that relationship, I went completely off anti-depressant medication, and have been living healthily and happily.

This is not to say that I am not correct when I identify certain people as assholes; some girls are assholes, and I do not want to be friends with those girls due to the same variety of reasons I would not want to be friends with a certain man. Overall, I do feel I often get along with women less well, because women often seem too eager to compete and one-up each other, which becomes a passive aggressive spiral that I don’t enjoy. However, maybe they, too, are like that because we have been taught to put each other down. Maybe the men I am friends with don’t feel the need to compete with me, because underneath it all, I am not a threat to them in any real sense.

We all have problems in the world and in our specific American society with being too apt to “other-ize”, marginalize, or otherwise discount others as being real human beings with real lives, feelings, and motivations, rather than 2-D cardboard caricatures of things we either agree or disagree with (and often villainize). See here how women in politics (running or wives) have been treated. Then tell me that women have equal rights and treatment with men. We are either accused of being a man or a lesbian, or a bad mother! Basically, a defective female.

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Hillary Clinton has been portrayed with a penis, or alternatively caricatured as an ugly old hag, in between being called every bad name in the book associated with opinionated women. Even Obama, an African American man, has been tarred with this same sort of “keep quiet minority” treatment. As the article linked above said regarding the treatment of women, “This has nothing to do with politics or policy – this is terrorism; a warning to sit down and shut up.”

Enough! Enough of denying the problem. It is a problem. I am a human being, I am a woman, and I am a feminist. When Feminist and Feminism are dirty words, the next word on the list will be “woman”. No matter how comfortable you feel, how unlikely you think it is that your rights will be taken away, and how irrelevant you believe feminism to be in this new century — wake up. Women are being shit on all over the world, and though we have our semblance of freedom here in America, ask yourself why women are being censored in congress (and here), and kept from testifying on issues that affect the area they govern, or monitored with guns and arrested while protesting these things.  Women need you, young men and young women working together to promote peace, understanding, respect, and equal treatment for all people. It has been said many times, but remember, feminism is the radical idea that women are people. If you believe that, and are for people being treated fairly and equally, you are a feminist too.

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Further Reading:

Who Needs Feminism Tumblr for some personal photo statements about who needs feminism.

Here are lots of comments here on how to be involved with feminism as a man/ boyfriend/ husband. Quoted: “I think this is the hardest thing is this: REMEMBER IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. If she’s ranting about some sexist injustice, it’s only natural to feel defensive, but try to let that go. She’s not mad at you. And you, as a feminist, can and should be angry too, even if that anger won’t be as visceral as it is for her.

And here’s the beautiful secret: feminism isn’t a secret code you have to master to ‘get it’ and say the super-secret right thing at all times. It is, as has been said many times, the radical idea that women are people. If you hold that belief in your head, and look at the world and act as if it’s true, you should end up being a wonderful partner and person too.”

Using the F-Word in Philosophy Classes

When Life Gives You Lemonaide, Smash the Patriarchy responding to a letter questioning if women do things like wear make-up for themselves or for the male gaze.

“The concept of raunch culture and how it affects the expression of female sexuality. This is something that has been on my mind since reading your blog post about male validation. I have held the belief that women should not be defined by or condemned for their sexuality. If a woman wants to wear make-up because it’s what she wants to do for herself, she should be able to without being demonized for it. If a woman wants to wear a short skirt because it’s what she wants to do for herself, she should be able to without being demonized for it. If a woman wants to be open about her sexuality for herself, she should be able to without being demonized for it. The issue that I am presenting to you is: are women really doing it for themselves? Has the seeking of male validation and the male gaze become so ingrained in women and internalized by them, that though they think performances of sexuality are empowering, they are actually only doing it for the approval of men?”

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