Thursday, July 31, 2014
Debate Club: Lets Talk about Feminism
I know I've shared this story before, but for this post it bears repeating. When I was applying to my BFA program in college I had to ask a professor to be my advisor and at the time there was only one professor I was working with, so it was a no brainer. Sometime after submitting my application he said in class, "So we were reviewing applications today."
My ears perked up. "Yeah?"
"Do you want to know what they said?" He asked with an unflinching smile across his face.
"Yes..." my demeanor dropping slightly...
"They said, 'Are you sure you want to work with her? She likes to argue.'"
"They did not!" I said.
"Oh yes they did." He countered.
"How would they even know? I haven't even had classes from any of them?"
"I don't know...but that's what they said."
"Well...did I get in?"
I tell this story because on the blog I don't think I really show this side of myself, mainly because I don't usually talk about controversial subjects here. But the truth is I love a good debate. As I was once told, I like to argue. For me its not about contention or stirring the pot, it's about uncovering truth. With political, philosophical, and even religious issues I try to look at an issue from all angels--I examine, scrutinize, and question before coming to conclusions. I do this in my own mind all the time. This is how my mind works to process information. However, doing this with people hasn't always been a positive experience and it's taken me a while to realize that when I question and play Devil's advocate, I should let them know beforehand that I'm actually undecided on this issue and would they mind if I asked them some pointed questions--Ha! That may have avoided some debates turned actual arguments.
The funny thing is that often, I don't come to conclusions. Probably why I'm a registered Independent. Sometimes I think an issue comes down to perspective--and I have a hard time saying my perspective should determine the choices everyone makes. I'm getting off topic...but the point is, I like to debate.
Today's topic: Feminism. It seems like there has been so much talk about feminism in the media lately. Everything from #yesallwomen, to Kate Kelly's excommunication from the Mormon church and her Ordain Women movement, and lately the flack a Women Against Feminism Tumblr where women post pictures of themselves with written reasons they don't need feminism.
So here's the deal--I've really been embracing the label 'feminist' lately. For many reasons it's taken me a while to embrace this label, mainly because 'feminist' is a moving target--it means different things to different people. I was afraid if I identified myself as a feminist others would make assumptions about my beliefs. But the fundamental believe that women are equal to men--of course I'm a feminist! In that sense, most of the people I know are. In the past couple of years I began seeing feminism it in a new light--like the story on NPR where a gaming programmer was being asked why there is still such a huge lack of female characters in the gaming world when almost half of gamers are women? When you think about it--that's ridiculous! Or the recent videos making the rounds about how we teach society to view girls like this video by Always showing what it means to do things "like a girl." Yes why would we ever make being a girl an insult? And while I don't subscribe to Kate Kelly's OW movement, I've been grateful for the conversations it's opened and some of the cultural changes I'm seeing within the LDS church.
So when I finally clicked on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr I was shocked. First, I expected to see very conservative older (think 60+) women making ridiculous reasons they didn't like feminism. So many people were making fun of this Tumblr page, insisting that they just "don't get it" I assumed these were women who were missing the point. After all if it wasn't for feminism, where would we be in regards to voting rights, education, job opportunity and on and on?
But you guys that's not what I saw. In fact I agreed with a lot of these comments, from young often alternative/hip looking girls.
Yes some of them are ridiculous and backwards reasons for not 'needing feminism,' but some of them aren't. If you want to throw a rock at your computer screen right now I ask you to take a few minutes and read some of the more thought provoking quotes from this feed.
"I don't need feminism because I'm a humanist! Who believes in equal rights for all humans!"
"I want my 9 nephews to grow up feeling like they deserved to be loved, cherished and respected by women...and that the do NOT deserve abuse anymore than a woman."
"I don't need feminism because the culture has become cannabalistic. A movement embraces differing ideologies and intelligent debate. A CULT rejects free-thinking and insults nonmembers by calling them "uneducated," "misunderstood," and "sexist." Look at the difference between [Martin Luther] King and Hitler. No matter how much you want to throw me under the bus feminists, I won't stop working to make the bus easier for all of us--men AND women--to ride."
"'Modern Feminism in western states looks pathetic when compared to real mysogynistic states, especially the Arab world. Women shouldn't be fighting for superiority in the Western world, they should be fighting for equality where it is absent."
"I don't need feminism, I just need HUMAN rights."
"I don't feminism because:
--I'm not a victim.
--Equality includes men.
--As a rape victim I know not all men are monsters.
--It's freaking 2014."
"I don't need "modern feminism" because...I don't want boys to be born apologizing for their gender because of bitter people and victimized attitudes."
"I don't need feminism because feminists are TELLING me I'm oppressed--I'm not--then they go on to oppress me."
"I don't need feminism because it's hurting men AND it's not helping women."
OK so the list goes on and on. The thing is I could probably argue either way on many of these issues. I don't agree with every single post...but I agree with or at least see the point of many of these posts. What I'm finding myself thinking more and more is that it's the label that is problematic. For instance, one of the things I didn't want to align myself with by calling myself a 'feminist' is being a man-hater in any form. Which begs the question, then why is it called FEMINism? If it's about equality, shouldn't it be HUMANism. (ps--I thought that before the Tumblr feed). So yes a lot of these women in the Tumblr feed are perhaps dissing the views of radical feminism--but it also seems some aren't. For example the couple of women who have talked about "western feminism" likening an uncomfortable situation like being cat called on the street for example to actual abuse or rape in a country where woman are truly oppressed. And now that you mention it, I DO see a lot of victimized attitudes prevailing in much of the feminist related articles and viewpoints being shared. Not to mention the bullying many of these women cite from the feminists themselves.
So what do you do you think? Are you a feminist? Why or why not? If so, what do you think about this Tumblr feed? Do you think any of them make good points at all? Feminist vs. Humanist? OR is it all semantics? Yes there are extremes on both side, but for most of us are we all just talking about the same thing? I.E. women are equal, we deserve to be teated as such and yet we don't hate men either? I honestly am reconsidering this label... what do you think?
art Blue Window by Michael Carson