Boy, I am glad it’s Friday because I’ve got a fun weekend up ahead, which makes a change from the usual sitting around in my pyjamas gorging myself and watching crap tv. Today I have another delightful guest poster for you, it’s the wonderful Courtney from Nobody Too. Courtney has become a serial guest poster on my blog and I love her for it. Enjoy her fabulous feminist post.
Hi Eeep I’m a Blogger readers! I’m Courtney from Nobody Too. I was so excited when Suzy started this feature, and it’s been fantastic reading so many people’s perspectives. Feminism is an issue that is near to my heart, and a subject I spend a great deal of time reading and thinking about.
To put it simply, feminism, to me, means that women should be treated like people. Not as “less than” men, not as objects or commodities, but people. Revolutionary, no? I kid, but when I see the many ways that women are shamed, made to feel inferior, or treated in an unequal manner–for no reason other than being a woman–I can’t help but cringe. I need to talk about it. But where to begin?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about feminism is that’s it’s strictly a woman’s game. No boys allowed. You smell bad and we don’t want you. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people seem to think of feminists as this whiny, militant bunch, storming all over everyone’s good time with guns blazing and bras burning, hellbent on tearing off men’s testicles with their bare hands.
While there are militant, man-hating feminists, we can’t all be painted with that same brush. I don’t think either sex is better than the other. I’m not trying to wage a gender war. I think that feminism is beneficial for both women and men. I think men can and should call themselves feminists. I think that education is key and if we see each other as people and not as the dichotomous, strictly gendered individuals that most of society still pushes us to be, then we can move forward as a society and spend our days curing diseases and exploring space. (Or whatever else a hip, advanced society is prone to doing.)
I think all college students should be required to take a gender studies class. I really do. School is about learning different perspectives, and I think part of the reason men don’t associate with feminism is because they don’t really understand it. Many people (men and women) don’t understand how much of gender is a social construct, and learning about gender is the quickest way to realizing that most gender norms are bullshit. Many of us modern feminists say that feminism is about choice; choosing to stay home or to have a career (or both!), choosing what we do with our bodies, etc. But really, gender norms can be just as rigid for men. Maybe some men want to stay at home with their children while their partner works, or aren’t comfortable with idea of having to be the breadwinner–this is ok and they should get choices too. Everyone should.
I’ve often heard it said that feminism is good for both men and women. A quick example is the notion of victim blaming. Victim blaming is when a violent act (rape in particular) is committed on a woman and is reported in a context that tries to explain why the woman was raped. Descriptions of being “scantily clad” or “drinking alcohol” imply that the woman may have brought the violent act upon herself. The flip side of this implies that a man can’t control himself around a scantily clad woman; that he is just some kind of rape machine whose trigger is a mini-skirt. (Woe to the mini-skirted woman who crosses his path.) Obviously, treating a woman as though she was “asking for it” is wrong. Implying that a man can’t see beyond the tip of his penis is also wrong. So where does this leave us?
In my naive little idealist heart (cloaked, though it is, in several thick layers of cynicism), I would love to see people respect each other, regardless of gender. Think of what we could accomplish! Respecting each other benefits everyone. Women still struggle to have their voices heard in many key arenas, and that silence impacts everyone. Men still tend to outnumber women in politics. Women scientists still have trouble getting respect from male colleagues. Imagine a world with a free exchange of ideas from all individuals (regardless of what’s between their legs) and consider how many more great inventions could be made, how many scientific breakthroughs, how many social advances could come to pass.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done, which is why I continue to talk about feminism and point out all the horrible things that many people might not even notice; from the way women are marketed to, to (still!) receiving unequal pay, to not being able to choose what we do with our bodies, to being told that we shouldn’t have sex (but when we meet the right man we should have all the sex his heart desires)…the list goes on. I accept that it’s a big hurdle to overcome. Still, when I see how far we’ve come in the last fifty years, I’d like to believe it’s possible.
So keep fighting the good fight kids. And men? Don’t shy away from calling yourselves feminists. If you have any female relatives, co-workers, friends, a girlfriend or a wife, than this all affects you too. Feminism is good for everyone, and the sooner we all figure that out the quicker we can move on to bigger and better things.