Ozzily Yours

Friday, February 15, 2008

Why, Yes, I Am Both a Feminist and a Man-Lover

So I occasionally read the blog of an acquaintance from business school. Nice enough woman, we weren't particularly close, but she's a decent writer and often posts lovely photos, which is enough to pique my attention on slow afternoons.

She has been proudly declaring her support for Hillary Clinton for the past several weeks. Whether I agree with her opinion or not, I have to respect anyone in our age group who's both politically aware enough and secure enough to actively campaign for any candidate, and it's been interesting reading her viewpoints.

But yesterday, there was a post which just made me incredibly frustrated. It started out declaring, "I am not a feminist, never have been, never will be. But I am sickened by how Hillary Clinton is being portrayed in the media." She went on to illustrate several incidents which speak to the sexist attitudes which have come front and center (a bystander shouting, "Iron my shirt!", t-shirts and stickers which advocate violence towards her, McCain not correcting a questioner who referred to her as "the bitch," arbitrary, unnecessary observations about her "thick ankles," etc.). It was all I could do not to leave a comment on the blog pointing out these were inherently feminist statements: her anger about double standards, her rage that, in this day and age, a woman's qualifications could be openly questioned simply by virtue of her being a woman, her incredulity at other people's willingness to laugh this type of thing off.

I was talking about it to the husband over dinner. "The thing is, if we were closer, I might have done it, but I just know that the word 'feminist' causes such a knee-jerk reaction, I think I might do more harm than good."

"Write her an e-mail," he suggested, "saying you don't want to be contrary, but you think she's raised an interesting point, and asking her whose definition of feminism she's going by. I mean, if she's assuming that 'feminist' actually means hairy-legged, man-hating liberals, well, that's the definition that's being propagated by the people who hate feminism... and why should those people be allowed to define it? Sure, every movement has some extremists, and there probably are a handful of feminists who fit that mold - but being willing to unquestioningly accept that definition probably isn't the best idea."

And then, after a few more minutes of conversation:

"Feel free to post this conversation on your blog, by the way, with the subject line, 'Why I Love My Husband.'"

And people wonder why I bought him a "Feminist Chicks Dig Me" t-shirt.

4 Comments:

  • I define myself as a feminist because I believe women should be on equal footing with men. I also define myself as a liberal because I am free-thinking and open-minded. I can't stand it when anti-feminist and anti-liberal groups try to hijack these terminologies to make them sound evil, and I refuse to play that game and tell people I'm "post-feminist" or "progressive."

    By Blogger Maren, at 2/19/2008 10:30 PM  

  • Maybe it is just me, but in some ways I think some people don't want to be labeled a feminist because they feel that it is taking a step backwards and giving more credibility to the challenges facing women only because they are women.

    It is sort of the "if we ignore it and press on as if it doesn't matter then things will work out" thought patterns that some people adopt. I will be honest that I probably fall under that category at times, but that is probably due, in large part, from me knowing many successful women who do not exhibit the signs of being held back, though they may have been.

    By Anonymous Moth, at 2/20/2008 6:06 AM  

  • Ah, but I would venture a guess that many of the strong, successful women you know do, in fact, consider themselves feminists. (You know that I do - and I'd like to think I'm on your list! - and I'm pretty sure that at least a couple of the women we know in common do as well.) Additionally, individual women earning much-deserved success does not negate the fact that sexist attitudes are still alive and well (as proven by the treatment of Hillary Clinton cited above). No, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be... and yet, is that what we want to settle for? "Not as bad?" And lastly, let's bear in mind that we, and our friends, are highly educated individuals in predominantly urban areas. It's very common that women in rural areas, where most people only earn a HS diploma (if that), often will not feel that they have any options beyond marrying young and having children.

    By Blogger mcm, at 2/20/2008 9:54 AM  

  • Yes, you are on my list. -Wait, that doesn't necessarily come across the right way when taken out of context. :)

    "often will not feel that they have any options beyond marrying young and having children."
    Isn't that God's purpose for women? :)

    By Anonymous Moth, at 2/20/2008 12:29 PM  

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