Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Feminism Post

I've been thinking about feminism since reading that I Blame the Patriarchy vaginismus post I linked to last time...

I've never felt connected to feminism, and I think I finally figured out why.  First, a disclaimer: I totally believe there should be no disparity between the sexes.  So my disconnection from feminism has nothing to do with disagreeing with it.

No, it has completely to do with my perception that feminism in activist form comes from a place of insecurity.

This commenter on I Blame the Patriarchy sums it up perfectly:
And isn't that wonderful to think of?  That it may be true there was a time when women liked themselves and they were honoured for their sexuality?
Wait a sec...since when don't I like myself?

And since when is my being a woman, my genitalia, my sexuality shameful?

See, I never, ever, ever, ever, ever in the history of my life had a time when I thought there was anything wrong, shameful, embarrassing, dirty, or lesser about being a woman or having a vulva.  When I got to college and found people flailing their arms about over the subjugation of women, I had no idea what they were talking about.

It's the fortune of my upbringing.  My parents tell me they made a concerted effort not to differentiate between my brother and me based on sex.  Growing up, we girls dominated the classroom and the after-school clubs (well, we didn't dominate Math Club, but we were in it, and when we skipped a grade in math, we did it 50-50 boys-girls).

I'm lucky to have had that upbringing, but it makes me really mad when feminists tell me I'm wrong not to be outraged.  It makes me mad when they imply that if I'm not offended, if I don't feel subjugated, I'm simply not as perceptive as they are.

Excuse me?

How about I grew up in a great setting that encouraged youth equally?  How about I had the upbringing that everyone should have?  How about I'm what feminism aims for, a woman who acts according to her own will and not because of the arithmetic of the patriarchy?

No: if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Bullshit.  I'm not outraged because I know it's a waste of my time.  The world isn't going to change through outrage, through angry blog posts whose readers are the choir.  The world is going to change through action, and the most pro-vulva thing any woman can do is go shove herself out there in any way she pleases and live her life according to her own goals and desires.

If we teach our daughters that the world hates women, that's all they'll see.  They'll see it in places where it's not even true.  If, instead, we raise them outside of the idea that there is any disparity between men and women, they'll be brazen, confident, and without a clue that vulva is something shameful.


  1. I am thrilled that you do not hate yourself, but sad that you appear to have gotten rather the wrong impression about feminism. Feminism isn't about creating outrage out of nothing. It's about hipping women to the causes of sexism and discrimination and abuse and violence.

    For example, the president of Afghanistan just signed into law a bill that will allow men to legally rape their wives. The bill also forbids women to go to school, get a job, or even make a doctor's appointment without a husband or father's consent.

    You, who do not consider yourself to be directly affected by the pitiful existence led by millions of women, may choose not to find this outrageous, but certainly you can understand how some of us might feel otherwise.

  2. Twisty, as I've explained to many over the years...

    I am aware of the injustices against women, and to suggest that I'm not is unfair. Furthermore, they (obviously -- read the post below this one, or the other post I wrote about erectile dysfunction, or other posts on this blog; though I don't write about politics much, I clearly take issue) bother me. I simply have an operational philosophy that differs from that of activist feminism. I think I have a valid position and, as I said in this post, I am tired of others telling me I'm insensitive, oblivious, or unconcerned just because I don't see the world through woman-hating glasses, as you have done here.

    Thanks for your comment, though. Know that we're both aiming for the same world.

  3. If you had said to me a few years ago, "I'm not a feminist, BUT, [insert pro-feminist sentiment here,]" I would have been bothered. "Well then clearly you ARE some kind of feminist, so why not embrace the term?"
    But after having been immersed in it for awhile longer, I'm starting to see why some folks choose not to use this term. And it isn't necessarily because the person is trying to avoid becoming a stereotypical "Unshaven man hater" and or whatever negative reputation right-wing talk radio is spewing out. It isn't because the person "Doesn't care," either.

    No, unfortunately, the history of feminism is not so innocent itself. There are some offensive things that representatives of types of feminism have said (continue to say) & done (continue to do) to offend & "Otherize" whole groups of people - who did not need to be offended & othered.

    For example, Renee of Womanist Musings - she identifies with the term "Womanist" better than "feminist" because mainstream, US-based feminism has a history of racism, among other things. You may've heard other things like, "I'm an equalist," or whatever.

    So obviously, the very term "Feminism" carries some charge that can make people, bloggers, women, uncomfortable.

    So it sounds to me like you have some holdups about certain pieces, certain schools of feminism, that you take issue with. Which is okay; I struggle with feminism too (obviously.) Overall I like the ideas I see common to several schools of it, but it's so splintered & broken up now that it means different things to different people. I do not like the philosophy that says women are brainwashed by the patriarchy so much so that they cannot make good choices unless they completely eschew it. Your choice of self-expression, job, sexual activity might feel good, but is that because it feels good in and of itself or because you've been taught that it feels good? Does your confidence come from within or from without?

    I still feel patronized when faced with this choice.

    Now that's just one issue I'm struggling with, probably because it ties in closely with sexuality & sex positive feminism. I'm still catching up on the racism/feminism schism, for example, & I 'm not very good at global feminism yet.

    etc etc...

    I mean I could go on & on but I bet you'd probably prefer that I keep such rambling thoughts to my own blog and I can't blame you ;)

  4. K, that is so lucid! You said that much better than I could've. I hope that you do respond with further thoughts on your blog. I always enjoy reading them.

    Over Twitter, my friend and I briefly discussed feminism versus humanism. I think, if I were more well-versed in this kind of talk (having studied physics, music, and comp sci, I talk versions of math), I would have said in this post that I prefer humanism to feminism, and that what bothers me about feminism is that it limits itself to injustices against women. I think ultimately that's why I'm uncomfortable with it -- because mistreat a man, mistreat a woman, a child, it's all the same to me.