Feminism: A Dirty Wordy?

Feminism Not A Dirty WordI went in search of opinions pertaining to Feminism. I wondered if it is dead – this powerful movement that aspires to allow women the freedom to exist without discrimination. I was surprised at what I found.

Clergyman Pat Robertson said, “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Wow. I didn’t know that. Thanks Pat Robertson for clearing that up for us.

Rush Limbaugh said, “Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”

In my online travels, in addition to these moronic comments, I found words like ‘man-haters’, ‘feminazis’ (a hideous term which marries the word ‘feminine’ with Nazi-ism) and ‘radicals’ (which by definition means ‘favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions’, but which also has a distinctly negative connotation in the realm of feminism). One female blogger wrote, “feminists are trying to make us believe there is this ghastly patriarchy that is ruling the land and that women need special treatment.”

Allow me to address this comment. First, the part about ‘making us believe.’

I would argue that feminists are not ‘trying to make anyone believe anything.’ In fact, I would surmise that what feminists do is not based on a belief system at all. It’s based on fact – like the fact that we breathe oxygen or that cows exhibit behavioral expressions of excitement when they solve a problem.

Fair treatment is not the same thing as special treatment.

Elizabeth Blackwell didn’t want special treatment. She wanted to be a doctor without being hounded and mistreated (which she did, and when ousted by her male colleagues [because she was female], opened her own clinic and also, the door to other female physicians). Simone de Beauvoir, who did not ‘try’ to be anything other than what she was, said, “I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.” This is the point. To be allowed to live freely, as you are, without having to live under a label.

Dirty WordNow for the second part: the part which insinuates that there is no ‘ghastly patriarchy that is ruling the land.’ Historical fact: men have made the rules. Women were not even considered people in Canada until 1929, and in some parts of the world, as we speak, the freedoms and safety of women are limited to whatever the male population allows. But even in places like Canada and the United States, where women are considered people, and have purportedly the same opportunities as men, we continue to be defined by ‘his story’.

Women are still not paid the same wage as a man for doing the same job. In the Military, women are considered ‘objects to be fucked.’ Check out ‘The Invisible War‘. And an obscene but telling fact is that the female obsession with enhancing appearance has less to do with personal pride and more to do with competition for male attention. Sex, and pornography in particular, largely revolves around the male gaze; the money shot.

Onward to the negative connotations attached to the word ‘Feminist’. Perhaps some people, like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, proclaim they ‘are not feminists’ because they don’t like to be labeled. Doesn’t matter what the label (even if, in the case of feminism, I tend to think the fear of this particular label stems from a skewed vision of what feminism really is). But maybe it goes beyond misconceptions. Perhaps social conditioning, and a rampant obsession with superficiality – with fitting in as opposed to standing out – plays a crucial role in how we present and evolve socially and culturally.

The powers that be would have us believe, of course, that confronting the system regarding any injustice – be it a patriarchy, matriarchy, monarchy, fraternity, oligarchy or what have you – will result in some form of social pariah-ism. People who speak up about injustice are often painted as radicals; minority groups who like to complain. But why is this? Is it because it’s easier to follow, rather than lead? Easier to ‘not getting involved’? Preferable to remain part of the majority (even when it does not resonate with us) rather than becoming part of a ‘radical minority’?

In any case, despite all obstacles – labels, hate, violence, and things no one in this relatively free continent could fathom – some people, like our fore mothers – were uniquely brave and strong women who stood their ground, amid enormous social pressure, labeling and marginalized, archaic ideologies about ‘what people will think’.

In short, these women chose humanity over popularity.

In my opinion, this whole argument stems from the same source as pretty much every debate humans have: a lack of insight into what it means to exist. We have become too comfortable in the Western world, in particular: Apathetic. Taking for granted what we have and why. Everything from freedom to food.

And speaking of freedom and food, what might a problem solving, sentient cow say? ‘Stop eating me you egocentric, ignoramus! I have feelings! I want to live! Independence is happiness!” Actually, Susan B. Anthony said that. The last part anyway.

Living beings are living beings, and unless harming others, should be allowed exist freely. To me, that is what Feminism is about, and nothing more.

Photo Credits

Feminism Not A Dirty Word @ Flickr

Dirty Word @ Tales Of A Fumbling Feminist


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Comments

  1. avatarGab says

    Whether or not these women call themselves feminists they are. What most people, male and female, do not seem to understand is that we are already living in a feminist society. It is a given that everyone understands that women want to be paid equal wages for equal work, just ask Swift or Perry if they would be okay with only getting half the money for the same performance as a man.

    Being a feminist, whether or not you identify yourself as one, means being able to express your opinions, being able to vote, having the rights to own your own house, to take care of your fiances, have the right to equal opportunities, or have a say over the rights of your own body. Tell Swift, or Perry, that they no longer are allowed to wear the clothes that they choose, or that they cannot control their own finances, or express opinions that aren’t approved by the men in their lives and I bet they would suddenly find their feminist voices.

    Limbaugh and Robertson are jackasses and the only real reason they say anything is, either for the shock value, or as many people in positions where they have a large audience, they actually fall for their own crap and believe anything that comes out of their mouths. In my humble opinion both are misogynist racist bigots who do much more damage to the world than good.

    The reality is that feminism isn’t about women being superior, or wanting to kill their children, dump their husbands, or destroy their families, it is about being treated as an equal, having the opportunity to do what they want without fear for their lives or safety, and to be contributing members of society.

    There will always be push back when new ideas, customs, and practices are introduced to an existing society. The attempt to take feminism and make it into a swear word is just one example of this insecurity. The fact of the matter is that women have been treated like second class citizens for more than 200,000 years, which is a long, long, long time. I find it amazing how far we have come in such a short period of time in our struggle for more freedoms. It gives me hope for my children and grandchildren. It is up to us to set the example for future generations so they can learn that it is not right to subjugate 50% of the population.

  2. avatarMary says

    Right on, Gab.

    I actually saw a really good documentary on Feminism on CBC last night. It brought to light an important concept: The idea of ‘superwomen’ as ‘the male equivalent’. To be ‘equal’, women would have to become all things. Highly paid in the work force, and super mothers and wives. It’s not possible, even if you do have an amazing and supportive partner. And further, it is demoralizing to any highly ambitious woman to realize that what is expected of women ‘in order to be equal’ is unreasonably crazy-making. Meanwhile, what’s expected of men is so much less, yet compensated more so.

    Many women, like me, are struggling as mothers just to survive. I put superwoman effort into everything. I am educated, intelligent and very healthy, but in reality, none of this matters to those who might see my value in terms of what’s in my bank account. And although I know deep down that one’s financial standing in no way reflects a person’s worth, it affects my morale. Especially when I feel there are so many others in political positions, for instance, who do FAR more damage and make far fewer contributions than I do, yet are highly paid for whatever it is they do. I would have run for office long ago, but you are not allowed unless you own property. The message: Sorry low income individuals, but you simply don’t matter as much as those who have more. This financial marginalization is just one aspect of being a woman.

    It’s sad.

    Thanks for your comment :)

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