I’m not saying I regret what I posted yesterday, because it was what was on my mind and that’s nothing I wish to retract, but I apologize if it bored you. I know that personally I tire very quickly to hearing people gush how wonderful/mysterious/attractive/insightful/irritating their “other” is. I especially can’t stand to hear how happy they are when I’m feeling confused and bored and destructive with my own feelings towards the unfairer sex. I hope that’s a similar shared feeling with other humans, because, if not, it just means I’m self-centered and more bitter than I’d like. Either way, I’m going to plead the excuse that I’m only human…most days…I think.
So I’m going to finally get to what iit means to me to be a feminist today, and still I hesitate. Not because I’m afraid of being branded with this oft categorized “dirty word,” but rather, because I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t already been said (and better said) by others out there. And too, because I think the people who want to argue about feminism, and slap one word equivalents upon it, are not people who it is really worth arguing with. My mother always says that concerning relgion she brings an open mind to the table because really, no one knows for absolute 100% sure what is the “TRUTH,” and we aren’t going to know until we go toe-up and into whatever afterlife may or may not be waiting for us. Therefore, she says, it’s pointless to get so hot in an argument, because, you can feel as confident as you want, but no one actually knows. I agree. And I loosely extend this to feminism because no one knows what feminsm means to the individual feminist or anti-feminst anymore.
True. There’s a definition of feminism. Feminism: a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic and social rights for women. But one of the things I love (and hate) about femism is this definition that offers room for interpretation with application to the individual life. It’s wonderful that this definition gives me the liberty to say that when a sexist joke is told and I say (true Morrissey style) “That joke isn’t funny anymore,” that I’m not only standing up for my right to be able to say what I think, I’m also saying this type of idea is damaging to women and their struggle for equal rights that are on par with the rights of anyone else. But, I understand that people don’t like to be corrected for bad behavior, even if perhaps they know deep down that that kind of teasing and shaming based on sex is wrong…so when someone retorts with a comment like “bitch” or “feminist” I tend to take it as par for the course, and tell them to find a new come back because those are so so very over played.
To some, feminism may be the right to take to the streets with posters and get angry about suppression and disrespect from the half of the human race that’s supposed to be our partners (not saying that they are our only option though, go go gay rights). But it’s not JUST that definition that femists should be viewed as. I’m not angry, and I’m not marching, and I’m not burning my bra (I’d never do that: no. 1 expensive no. 2 bras are wonderful, and serve a valid purpose in my every day life), and I don’t hate men (just the opposite), and I’m not a lesbian (see previous post). The stereotypes of feminism are designed to inhibit progress and draw attention from the real purpose of the movement, and that’s change for the better for women so that we have more opportunities to make our dreams come true, we can feel respected AND loved, and we can show younger generations that a strong woman IS a desirable thing not to be equated with someone who will be lonely, unattractive or despised.
So if I’m not in the streets burning my bra, having promiscuous sex with a variety of partners, or yelling at small children in my yard about equal pay for equal work: what the hell am I doing to promote the feminist cause? Well, first, I educate myself. I read up on the good things men and women are doing (and the bad things too) and I promote women and men who are working to promote a level playing field. Also, I act the part of feminist whenever I stick up for myself or others that are being bullied. Whether it’s a student in my class that’s being made fun of for her hair color choice or it’s asking a friend to not judge a woman’s sexual status based on what she wears OR (and this one was a doozy) diplomatically straightening out Lanks when he said a particular woman was “easy.” For the record, I’m very proud of that last one, because I remained calm and let him know that there is huge inequality between men and women when a man can sleep with a woman on the first date and be praised, and a woman who does the same is shamed and called such things as “easy.” For once, Lanks was speechless. Then again, he was probably just trying to fuck with my head about all of it. He’s a psychology major, and he tends to use his skills for his amusement and my chagrin.
I really could go on and on. There’s so many little acts of disrespect that we can let go or we can politely,or depending on the severity, not so politely adress. I’ve been called: girl, sweetie, ma’m, dear, and lady, all in one day, depending on how the person who used the term viewed my status as a human. I’ve had a customer reach into my name badge on my chest, grab my pen, and say “I just wanted to click it.” I’ve had a customer say, as I dusted a fixture, “They’ve got you on your knees again, huh?” And then again, I’ve had a very gentlemanly gentleman correct his friend that kept calling me “Lank’s girlfriend,” by saying “She has a name. How about you call her by that?” (Swoon) He also stepped up and told his friend to back off when the guy made a comment about my breasts. (Double swoon…for Lanks, not that other guy, obviously ) And this just proves that femisism needs its male allies just as much, if not more, than feminine crusaders.
Point is, I’ve had sexist comments and jokes and tests to stand up for myself and others, and I use these to further the cause. It may not be the most effective method, but by asking my brother to judge women by their merits, not their legs, and acting as a role model alongside this, I’m encouraging him to choose a woman who respects herself and him and who will pass this on to their children or all they encounter. Take a swig and pass the Feminist juice, so to speak.
If you are interested in being a more active feminist, fighting a feminist, or knowing more about the struggle that IS real (not a myth, thank-you-very-much), I suggest reading the so-called feminist bible: “The Feminine Mystique.” The work is a bit dated these days and flawed in certain areas, but it’s a place to start and it’s written well. Watch a film on Gertrude Stein, and see how this attractive and intelligent woman has crusaded for women’s rights AND found the love of her life with a man who supported her ideas. And take this for the road…it’s not about women so much as it is about everyone’s rights, and the fight to help everyone (black skin, white skin, female, male, homosexual, asexual, fat, skinny, disabled, healthy) accomplish what they want to with this blip of a life on the cosmic scale. I love all you humans and semi-human lifeforms. Go do something wonderful with your one wild and precious life.
-Anna R. Kotopple