Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Say what, now? And who?

I added a couple of new blogs to my sidebar o' linky goodness, and I especially recommend Tiger Beatdown if you're interested in seeing someone else who feels about feminism and humanism the same way I do - and that I'm not alone in finding a large part of society's attitudes towards women (especially at the conservative baseline) unacceptable while still being highly appreciative of the peen.

I am a feminist; never doubt that.  I cannot unsee what I have seen in terms of ugliness towards women (though I sometimes desperately wish that I could go back to collusion, even though it's damaging long-term, as it's so much easier and fun in the short run), but I also realize that the male-centric status quo does not mean that all men are reactionary MRAs (Men's Rights Activists - and if you think I'm linking to any of their sites, you're mad; that kind of ugly I do not need connected to my happy little blog.  Google it).

(On second thought, don't.  If you must, read about it on Wikipedia). 

The patriarchal leanings of those with the mistaken idea that the 1950s were halcyon days for men and women still taint a lot of politics and the media, as evidenced by dreck like He's Just Not That Into You, and anything starring Seth Rogen or directed by Judd Apatow (think they're progressive?  Who gets to be "mommy" in those movies?  They're all set up with men as the center of the Universe, and any woman without a man is either an evil sexless bitch, or a helpless mewling child who needs a man so bad she can't see straight).  It's actually a wonder that any men and women escape this programming, it starts so young.  And I appreciate both the women and the men that do see an alternative way to get along with each other, even if I don't always agree with them.

And that's maybe one of the things that your average "oh, God, I'm not a feminist - those chicks are crazy!" person doesn't see or really understand - "Feminism" isn't group-think, nor should it be.  We don't have an overarching agenda that demands absolute loyalty to certain ideas, and we argue/discuss/argue some more about interpretation, action, goals, even.  Some feminists want women in charge.  Some feminists want an equal balance.  Some want to concentrate on reducing rape culture, some want to concentrate on work parity.  I don't think there's anything all feminists agree on, but that's part of its strength, not a weakness.  There's room for all kinds of ideas; find your niche and fill it. 

Those who would prefer that women all become submissive helpmeets to the natural center of all order and enlightenment in the Universe, men, don't like all the ideas being bandied about, and they try pretty hard to shut down all signs of assertiveness on the part of women  - look at the opprobrium over Sen. Boxer's polite, firm, request that she be addressed as "Senator" in the popular press (stay away from the foaming rabidity of the extreme right-wing opinionistas, though - it's not really healthy for sane people to read).  The reaction seems massively out of proportion to the remark - unless you see it as a sign that women are getting too uppity and need to be put in their place posthaste.  If that's the tack you're taking, then yes, the level of media and blog hysteria over a seriously small part in a congressional hearing is absolutely justified.  Give a woman a title, and she'll take a mile.  God knows we don't want women to be getting any ideas about being allowed to choose what they're called!

But I may be asking for too much when I ask for womens' opinions to be heard.  I want equality, but sometimes it seems very far away.  It hurts worst when other women want to deny me that equality, but I can't blame other women for buying into the dominant paradigm - after all, Stockholm Syndrome is a survival tactic.  In fact, more radical feminists than me (I'm very, very middle of the road as far as feminism is concerned) would argue that I'm labouring under the same delusion, seeing as I actually like most men, and laugh at The Soup, like South Park, and don't immediately switch off Family Guy (though I don't watch it much, because it pisses me off more often than it makes me laugh), but I can't really get away from the fact that I do like men, and want them to be part of my life.

I'm not prepared to say most of them are superior to me, as I've met very few that are intellectually my equal, but I like them well enough.  I even adore (one of) them, and would go so far as to say he's the most important person in my life. 

(Who am I kidding?  You're the tops, baby.  *smooch*)

I don't consider trying to make my husband happy to be a demeaning act, even though more radical feminism would question my motives (since he also pays the majority of the bills).  He's not taking advantage of me in any way; our relationship seems to me to be mutually supportive (as I've said many times before, he's actually better at doing housework than me, even though he works full-time and I work part-time).  But in having a heterosexual, marriage-centered relationship with a man, I am aligning myself with the mainstream of society, and not working to change it from that perspective.  Heck, I even didn't work for a while, even though we don't have kids together.  I am traditional in many ways.  How can I call myself a feminist?

Because I am.  I just am.  Women are equal to men; it just hasn't been openly acknowledged yet.  That's what I care about.

I love my husband; he's one of the biggest feminist allies I've ever known (and has put his money where his mouth is on more than one occasion), but I can't expect him to viscerally understand what it's like to be marginalized, just as I can't understand what it's like to be marginalized as a man of colour, a woman of colour, a person with severe disabilities, or a person of any colour/disability with little to no income.  All I can ask of him is that he accept that some things make me angry without trying to dismiss my reactions.  Which he does, even if the strength of my reactions worries him sometimes.  In the same way, as a feminist, I shut up and listen when someone else is trying to tell me about their experiences, even if those experiences don't jibe with mine.  One of the most oppressive acts a human can perpetrate on another human is to tell them that their experience doesn't count.  As a feminist, I try very hard not to commit that oppression myself.

No, I don't really have a massive point with this post; I'm explaining in part why I link to some of the blogs in my sidebar, I'm explaining why I write about the things I do, and I'm explaining that I believe I'm equal to any man out there, even if I never learned algebra properly (because I can do fifty million other things, all of them as valuable as a talent for equations).  So sometimes, something about sexism is going to piss me off, and sometimes I'm going to write about it.  But I still love the menz.

They're cute.  And often fluffy.  And the one I'm married to has got us Paul McCartney tickets.  I'm feeling good.


Jun. 24th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)

I'm descended from a long line of French intellectuals... both male & female. The correspondence between the great x 4+ that my mother has been reading are letters between husband and wife who see each other as equals, no matter what they may be doing.

My mother taught me that feminism meant supporting women to be able to freely choose the role(s) in life that they wanted. My mother was a teacher, my late grandmother was a teacher... and she was born in the 'teens. So my mother grew up knowing that there is no big deal with women working, holding power, and being intellectually equal with their husbands.

The friends that my grandparents had were the same way. The church that they attended supported that ideal (which surprises most since it was a Church of Christ). My brothers were raised with the same ideals as I. My children are being taught the same thing. I was a house-spouse from the time my daughter (the eldest) was born until she was about 10. Choice. It boils down to being about choice.

Edited at 2009-06-24 06:12 pm (UTC)
Jun. 25th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
It IS about choice and the luxury of being able to make and capable of enforcing, if needed, that choice. But I think it is also about one's sense of self and self-respect.

For all of my childhood my mother was "trapped" in the 50's Happy Suzy Housewife life. My father was the moneymaker and wielded that power none to subtly. She was not UNhappy, but she was not happy, either. My father is a chauvinist. Always has been, always will be. When VMI (his alma mater) was forced to go co-ed, he was quoted in our local paper as saying, "All the women in the world can go to VMI. But the ladies should stay home."

*eye roll*

I consider it quite an achievement on the part of my mother that both my sister and I are independent and can shrug off society's stereotypical gender roles and make decisions based on what we want and what works best for us. Go, Mom!

But I also believe that a person's personality has a lot to do with it. Gender does not dictate courage, intelligence, humor, self-respect or personality. A strong personality will dominate someone with a weaker sense of self. However, I believe that women are trained from birth that they are not to be that strong. Likewise, men are taught to be strong, not cry, and burp the alphabet. (BTW --why is that? It's kinda funny, but it's not THAT funny.) I think everyone has some kind of programming they wish they could overcome, but "It's hard to fight an enemy that has outposts in your head."-- Sally Kempton.

Where women have traditionally experienced the greatest amount of freedom of choice has been as widows. As widows, these women they could often make decisions, participate in trades, and had a legal status previously denied them due to the legal system of the time, society, and/or country they lived in. Where women generated and controlled an income, they had choices, and that has not changed. So many relationships are about struggles for power and control, thinly disguised under veils of "love." And that has not changed, either. People are people, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Don't get me wrong. I like men. Given the opportunity, I will ask a man to heft-n-tote things, get things off the top shelf, and kill a really big bug. I will do it myself if I have to, but I don't want to. Not because I am incapable or think that it's not my "place" to do it, but because I am lazy and he is stronger, taller, and hopefully has better hand-eye coordination. I'll ask a woman to do these things, too, so I really am equal-opportunity in that regard, but I am more likely to ask a woman to help me, rather than to do the task for me outright. (hmmm...reexamining my programming...)

More quotes I like:

"I am a person trapped in a woman's body." --Elaine Boosler

"You don't have to be anti-man to be pro-woman." --Jane Galvan Lewis

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." --Rebecca West

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman." --Anais Nin

Latest Month

April 2017


Powered by LiveJournal.com