Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I take so much for granted.


Today I attended a women-in-business related meeting, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards, I invited myself into a conversation amongst women about how women in business are perceived, both by men and by other women. There was a consensus about the double standards, and the impossible standards, that women are held to. Some women were surprised that they would be treated differently simply because they were women, and they were not happy about it. If you are one of the women in question, Hello! Thanks for reading my blog! Please leave a comment. :)

As the conversation progressed, one of the women expressed disdain for the sexism involved in some men spreading rumors about women to undermine them. Then within her next sentences she said, "I am anti-feminist".

I don't understand how the words, "I am anti-feminist," could come out of a woman's mouth. I was offended both as a woman and as an out-and-proud feminist. It would be like Senator Obama saying, "I hate that Dr. King and his ilk. He and Malcolm X and Maya Angelou were always causing trouble. There was no need for all that rabble-rousing to make sure that people like me have equal rights. I didn't need any help to get where I am today, even though people still discriminate against me based on my color. Why should anyone fight for the rights of black people? Now I'm going to go deliver another speech that heavily borrows from 'I Have A Dream'. Check you later!"

Since I am young, educated and black, I never have the opportunity to forget where I come from and how hard millions of people before me have worked to allow me to get where I am, both as a black person and as a woman. I often forget that many nonblack women don't have that same awareness and historical perspective. I know who I am and how I am. I also know that other people think they know, but they have no idea. But many other women don't think about how they are perceived in the world until something happens to them. And even then, they don't always recognize it as sexism. Feminists have made it possible for women to live much of their lives without experiencing (relatively) overt sexism. Feminists worked to get women up to that 77 cents of the dollar that our male counterparts make. Feminists continue to fight for human rights every day, including the right for women to be in business in the first place.

To clarify about The F Word: If you believe women should have equal rights, you are a feminist. Period. End of story. Jam done. You can go home now.

You don't have to tell anyone that you're a feminist. You don't have to protest. You don't have to burn the MYTHICAL bra. You can keep it to yourself. You can enjoy professional sports. You can wear skirts. You can have sex with men. It's okay. Please realize that most if not all of the stuff that you have been taught about feminists and feminism is false. I will repeat: If you believe women should have equal rights, you are a feminist.

And, as I have said before, Men? You can be feminists, too. There is no vaginal requirement. For reference, here is my favorite famous feminist man. He's super cute, too!

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4 comments:

Cortney said...

Oh my. I cannot even imagine how I would react to hearing those words out of a woman's mouth especially not at a meeting about women in business! Does she not realize that without feminism and feminists she wouldn't be sitting there? Does she think she'd be there if it were 1950? That is so frustrating.

I, however, think that men can only be feminist allies not necessarily feminists. I am willing to be proven wrong though.

Great point about privilege though. I think you are right that some white women, especially ones who don't struggle financially, forget too easily how hard won their rights have been.

Brandy said...

I'm not surprised in the least. I attend college and major in English Literature.

For most of my classes I choose to write feminist critique on the lit we are reading, as it is a subject that interests me.

On the occasions where I discuss homework or papers with some of my female class mates I hear things like:

Oh no! I'm not a feminist. I don't hate men.

and

Oh... well you don't look like a feminist, you wear high heels, makeup etc.

Of course, I then tell them the subject of my paper and what I am trying to discuss, and they respond:

Oh yeah! That is so true.

and

That's feminist?

The problem is that when a marginalized group stands up against the established system “they” (the system) do their best to belittle or otherwise discredit said marginalized group and their concerns, complaints etc.

This is what has happened to the word feminist. Most people have no idea what a real feminist is; instead they carry some fantasy that has been propagated for the purpose of making the feminist movement appear not only as subversive (and therefore BAD), but ridiculous etc.

ifelicious said...

feminist as a word holds power like using racist. i agree that it is oxymoronic to say they are anti-feminist. as much as i am aware of the naivete and/or ignorance of others, i still am disheartened when someone utters something that makes them look bad.

Stephanie said...

Cortney - It's a belief in equality of the sexes, pure and simple. So yes, men can be feminists.

I will never understand what people find so disturbing or wrong about this.