Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 12.4

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. The negative associations people have with the word “feminist” are unfortunate. It will be interesting to see how much of an affect this has on Hillary Clinton’s probable presidential run in a few years.

  2. Amanda

    No you’re wrong. A woman I know shouted I’m a feminist at a mirror three times and Rush Limbaugh materialized out of thin air! She ran away screaming in terror as he started to rant about how evil liberals are. Even worse, while she was gone, he went into her kitchen and ate all her donuts. Or did he appear after she mentioned his name three times? I can’t remember. :)

  3. The fear of the feminist label is en par with the fear surrounding the atheist label. How often have unbelievers stated “I’m not an atheist but I don’t believe in any deity”. Atheism was all too often associated with immorality and extremist ideologies. Thus many shy away from the atheist label.

    Here is the classic atheist dilemma. If you’re an atheist why do you celebrate Christmas. Christmas is derived from Christianity. If Christianiy is oppressive then why celebrate that oppression via Christmas. Indeed, it can be argued that atheists such as myself have internalized this oppression and because it is so ingrained in our psyche over centuries that it is natural to celebrate and enjoy Christmas. Is celebrating Christmas therefore wrong? Similarly, if a woman freely wears lipstick is it wrong because it is the consequence of internalized and ingrained patriarchy? Absolutely not.

    Indeed IMO it is these misconceptions that lead people to fear labels such as atheism or feminism. It is not about limiting freedom or personal decisions. It’s about freedom of choice even if it means choosing something that has an oppressive origin. Enjoy life. Sing Christmas carols and go to mass if it makes you feel good! Wear that thong and lipstick! Show your cleavage! Or cover up completely! Run for president! Break the glass ceiling! Become a Neurosurgeon and tear down the surgical boys club! Be a stay at home mom! Be a stay at home dad! Shave your pits! Grow your pit hairs and use them for jump rope or whatever! Kiss under the misletoe! Do whatever the hell you want! It’s all good as long it’s your choice.

    1. I also like the freedom of choice idea. I wear makeup and pretty clothing, for myself. I don’t think that diminishes at all the ideals of equality.

      I will say that atheism is more of an activist stance. Some people insist that everyone who doesn’t believe in God call themselves Atheists. But just as you said, it’s a label. There are many varieties of nonbeliever, and not believing something need not be labeled every time.

  4. I’ve always thought it was weird to hear a woman say she’s a feminist out of any context of an active group. Is there a word for African Americans standing up for themselves? Latinos? The elderly? No.

    You might hear folks say they’re a civil rights activist, but this almost always implies they’re working or volunteering for an organization. If I say I’m a feminist, what does that mean? Don’t answer, I know what the word means. What I’m complaining about is lack of specifics.

    I like hearing men say they’re feminists and I know several. But again, what specifically are they doing to move the cause forward? And if they’re merely being decent people, doesn’t that just fall under the category of not being an ass?

    1. “What specifically are they doing to move the cause forward?”

      Understanding what feminism is about. Shedding misconceptions. Acknowledging male privilege. Understanding what patriarchy is. All this is doing something. It may not be equivalent to holdimg placards at a protest but eliminating ignorance is a giant leap forward. Oddly enough I’ve learned more about feminism through atheism.

      1. I agree those are all things a very enlightened person might do. And I think we should all strive for that. But to me being an “ist” probably entails something less vague.

        Holding signs is great, but not what I’d expect people to do on a daily basis. More productive would be to work at a woman’s center, set up a nonprofit, go around on media circuits or schools educating the public about various woman’s rights.

        Once we enlighten ourselves, we become feminists by devoting some real time to it, I think. Just my thoughts.

        1. I have to add this cuts the other way too. Once I spoke up about birth control, and some guy said “you must be one of those feminists”. Well, no. I’m a Biologist and I have a brain. Being a feminist is wonderful but it’s not required to see why birth control should be available to everyone. It’s common sense.

        2. Much of what you describe requires expertise. Not everyone can be as good as Hilary Clinton in articulating progressive ideas. I have no idea how to set up a nonprofit. Many are locked into full time jobs supporting families and are constrained by limited time to devote to the activities you describe. They should by no means be described as armchair feminists.

          I work at a Veterans Hospital and I am interested in the management of neurologic and sleep disorders among transgendered veterans. This is a very progressive arena. I have the necessary qualifications to do this sort of feminist work. Not everyone has this expertise. I could not for the life of me engage in policy making regarding the advancement of more tenured women professors at my medical school and fix the leaky pipeline. There are those with that legal and political savvy to accomplish that task. I nonetheless lend my support wholeheartedly. I think we all do our part in some small or large way.

          1. Wow. That sounds like some cool work you’re doing. I don’t think though that anyone has to have especially focused skills to do feminist work. Blogging about feminist issues, taking a few women studies courses (or even independent reading of books), joining community groups once a month, all this counts as feminist activities and doesn’t require too much time or money. I’m not saying who can call themselves a feminist, just that I’d personally want to earn that label first.

  5. From the article on feminists:

    “You know, you don’t have to be some angry, man-hating termagant”

    I think that’s the main point that needs to be put out there to women and men alike.
    It seems the view that is held toward feminists is that they are women who hate men and family life, that they want men to be their slaves (or worse), ect.

    I admit, I once held a view that feminists didn’t care for men or the company of men. It was places like this that educated me.

    I think the goal ought to be to educate the public about what feminism is really about.

  6. I’ve been called a white knight and told that I’m just trying to get in bed with someone for calling someone out on their sexism or calling myself a feminist. The stigma works both ways and it stinks :/

  7. I’m quite happy to call myself a feminist. Even when it confuses people. (“But… you’re a guy!”) I’m happy to call myself an atheist, too. It’s not about plugging into a category or aligning with a group, they simply and succinctly describe my views and attitudes. (Not believing in any gods or supernatural beings/power yet not wanting to call yourself an atheist makes as much sense to me as believing in equality for all people but not wanting to call myself white, i.e., none. But whatever.) :)

  8. Does anybody remember when Hasbro actually made a version of the Easy Bake Oven for boys? And by “for boys” I mean “marketed towards boys.” I think it was called a Queasy Bake Oven and had recipies with gross-sounding names.

    1. Currently unavailable on Amazon. Was it an oven, or a variation on the creepy crawlers molding setup, edible version?

      Anyway, the picture accompanying this Quickies is the mid-sixties version of the Easy Bake oven, which looks like a toy version of what was considered trendy in kitchens back then. What they sell now looks downright ridiculous, nothing like an oven at all:

      http://www.hasbro.com/commonspot_sites/localize_promos/Ultimate-Oven-FPU-updated.jpg

      The next-most-recent version, which looked like a microwave oven (a mistake for other reasons IMHO, but I won’t go into that just now) isn’t being made anymore, if I understand correctly.

  9. I think a lot of feminism’s trouble relating to ordinary people is that it’s an academic movement. With academics you get a lot of very smart people talking entirely to a) each-other or b) disciples who absolutely love them (ie: college students who really don’t want to flunk).

    If you add in that many woman think feminism worked, particularly woman in their early 20s who have little personal experience of sexism you can see why many young women would not identify as feminists.

    BTW, the academic nature of feminism leads to one of things that really annoys me about them: they’re spoil-sports. They tend to think that an article denouncing a massively popular work as sexist is a great idea.

    Frequently these are not well-thought-out. “Wheel of time sexist,” points to articles denouncing the series because women get spanked and don’t seem to mind (but ignore the fact that a man actually got raped, and later thinks “that was really awkward except for the fun parts”), claims the females are defined by males (this is technically true, but most guys are strongly defined by their women, while the most whipped characters in the books are male warders), etc.

    In politics if you insist on defining anyone who hasn’t actively joined your group as an enemy most people will decide you’re un-fun assholes and avoid you.

  10. //In politics if you insist on defining anyone who hasn’t actively joined your group as an enemy most people will decide you’re un-fun assholes and avoid you.//

    Okay, now that you’ve aired out your prejudices concerning us, would you like to meet us and take some time to find out what we’re really about, and then perhaps re-evaluate your pre-conceptions concerning us? And maybe find out from our point of view why we think this movement is necessary?

    1. I have met you. I actually like you, and agree with you pretty much all the time.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s annoying when your response to a perfectly predictable reaction is to call everyone stupid.

      Note that you’re doing exactly what I accused you of (“defining anyone who hasn’t actively joined your group as an enemy”). I didn’t say I wasn’t feminist, or that I was an enemy to feminism. But since I pointed out that it’s downright silly to expect most women call themselves feminists when feminism insists that shit they love is misogynist I’m obviously prejudiced against feminists. It’s absolutely impossible that I could be persuaded to call myself a feminist if only one would actually take me seriously for 20 goddamn seconds. Congratulations, you just lost a vote.

      Hell, take a look at the original article. It’s complaining Katy Perry, and several others won’t identify as feminist. “katy perry sexist” returns 1.48 million results, mostly denunciations of her songs as veiled sexism. In some ways that’s great tactics. If you can run Katy Perry through the wringer maybe the next Katy Perry will be less sexist. But you should not be surprised that Katy Perry does not trip through the wringer.

      You should also not be surprised when Katherine Fenton, who is the perfect age to be a big Katy Perry fan, refuses to accept the label feminist despite confirming she is (by definition) a feminist.

      Bruni ended up apologizing, and claiming she’d been taken out of context. Marissa Mayar is a business executive. They’re extremely fireable so they don’t admit being affiliated with left-wing movements very often.

  11. //Note that you’re doing exactly what I accused you of (“defining anyone who hasn’t actively joined your group as an enemy”). I didn’t say I wasn’t feminist, or that I was an enemy to feminism. But since I pointed out that it’s downright silly to expect most women call themselves feminists when feminism insists that shit they love is misogynist I’m obviously prejudiced against feminists. It’s absolutely impossible that I could be persuaded to call myself a feminist if only one would actually take me seriously for 20 goddamn seconds. Congratulations, you just lost a vote.//

    Ahem, you came in making accusations with a rude tone, normally when you do that to any human being, they’re not too interested in talking. There was no enemy labeling here, just no interest in talking to someone interested mainly in accusing and airing grievances than in genuinely discussing with an open mind.

    If you care to change your tone and stop talking down to us to one of genuine interest in learning about our point of view, we can talk. But not until then.

  12. //Ahem, you came in making accusations with a rude tone, normally when you do that to any human being, they’re not too interested in talking. There was no enemy labeling here, just no interest in talking to someone interested mainly in accusing and airing grievances than in genuinely discussing with an open mind. //

    I make a post that seems perfectly reasonable to me. It answers a question they actually asked. The question (“Why aren’t these people feminists?”) can only be answered by saying that that feminists are screwing up somehow. It is very difficult to answer that question without challenging something about feminism. But it’s an interesting question, and I thought I knew the answer, so I posted it.

    But instead of talking about that post, or explaining why you prefer tactics that are gonna alienate Katy Perry, you want to talk about my tone. You called me prejudiced, but I’m one who is “making accusations with a rude tone.”

    1. //But instead of talking about that post, or explaining why you prefer tactics that are gonna alienate Katy Perry, you want to talk about my tone. You called me prejudiced, but I’m one who is “making accusations with a rude tone.”//

      Meh, I’ve just learned the difference between people who want to fight and people who want to discuss with an open mind. You want to fight, so not gonna talk anymore to you.

      Have a nice day.

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