Sunday, 27 December 2009

The ‘feminist’ shadow

For some reason the word ‘feminist’ comes with an array of negative connotations, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and has women running from being given the title. “I’m not a feminist!” becomes the theme tune for women too afraid to stand up for themselves, for fear of being seen as some unladylike creature. Feminism is un-feminine. All sorts of ideas about feminists haunt the air; they are all man-hating lesbians who don’t shave their armpits and bench press their anger in the gym whilst starting fires and breaking laws.

Fear of change has given birth to all the above stereotypes (along with however many others) to stunt the movement’s potential. The actual definition of a feminism (so says is ‘the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men’. All feminism is, is the belief that people should be equal – yet somehow it’s become a dirty word.

 "Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings."
--Cheris Kramerae, author of A Feminist Dictionary, 1996

If it wasn’t for the feminist’s of our past, we wouldn’t have a vote; we wouldn’t have a voice. We wouldn’t have jobs or trousers or chances, yet these women in history don’t have our respect. They are hero’s, but are portrayed as nothing more than crazy, angry nightmares. The male-dominated power structure sees the threat and wants it destroyed, and what better way to destroy the opposition than to pump it’s being with negative labels to scare away new members of joining it. How dare those pesky women demand equal pay for equal work! How dare they try to make their own decisions about their bodies! What disgusting behaviour…

In people’s notion of feminism, they assume it is about women becoming the new power. About turning our society into a matriarchy, where women hold all the cards – but they’re wrong. It isn’t about power, it’s about equality. I personally think it is ignorant of human beings to assume anyone is better than anyone else, we all came from the same place and we are all going to the same place. What is so wrong in believing we should all be treated the same? Why is equality some evil that must be squashed?

People look at the state of men and women in our current climate and seem to think we have nowhere left to go; that this is equality. This is just another way of stopping us ever reaching an equal footing. Of course we’re not yet equal, and unless we see that we will never move forward. We cannot overcome what we cannot see.

Men are still paid more for the same work. Men still get more jobs over women applicants. Men are embarrassed if they’re ever over powered by a woman. The list goes on. On top of this, there are the women who think using their femininity to become successful is wrong and they must behave ‘like men’ if they want to succeed, but I think this is the wrong approach. Much of the system is based on male advantages and can be climbed with use of male characteristics, but there is nothing wrong with using female characteristics to get ahead and to build new ladders.

Somehow society has women fighting with one another, so they are too distracted to fight the state. Women see each other as a threat, as if only one woman can ever be successful or beautiful or happy so the rest are competitors. How can we ever be taken seriously in a plea for equality when we can’t accept such a concept within our own community.

I wrote this to submit to the feminist carnival with gender across boarders, check out more on The Feminist Carnival Here

And If you fancy submitting something too, click Here


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  2. Men don't get paid more - women take more days off (to look after children and things), don't do as much physically demanding things, take paternity leave, work less hours etc. and so they end up getting slightly less pay.

    What I'd like to ask is this - where are women not equal? We've settled the pay thing, so...abuse? Wrong again!

    Men are killed by their wives, ex wives and partners just as much as women, and actually abused significantly more. Refer to links for 'proof'.

    So, what is the point? These days, feminism means claiming to be some sort of superwoman and adding pressure to yourself that you don't need. It also means making ridiculous demands to men. It means complaining about things aimlessly and baselessly.

    I agree, feminism was needed back in the day. Feminism was a good thing. It brought women forward. But nowadays, it's repugnant and does more bad than good. There's nothing left to fight for in this part of the world. If you want a cause to fight for as a feminist, go to the Islamic world! What women in this part of the world claim to be lacking and almost want to lack so that they can be part of some sort of movement, they have more than enough of, but in the Islamic world, they'd have a field day.

    P.S. fuck the lack of edit-once-posted button!

  3. Men get higher bonus' and more job offers, generally. Like in writer world, if a woman applies for the same job twice, once with a blokes name, the bloke name is more likely to score the job. That's why so many female writers have male pseudonyms. And in banker world men's bonus' are normally twice if not three times that of women's - so said the news the other day at least.

    And yeah, women take more time off when babies are concerned - I think once the baby is born fathers should be allowed more time off too. What's wrong with the fathers being more involved in raising their kid?

    Also, a lot of the time in households where both the man and woman work, the woman is still expected to be the one to cook and clean - in effect having two jobs. Housework sucks, I would much rather be out earning bread than cooking it lol
    That's not all households, but it is most. I think if people perceptions changed everything else would follow.

    And to battle for women's rights in Islamic countries, we have to battle Islam itself. Fighting with religion is hard work, but it has to be done. Religion forces so many inequalities and claims it's God's will. Bollocks. If their all loving, all knowing god were real it makes no sense for him to on one hand be saying everyone is equal in his eyes and we're all his children, then on the other hand saying one small group of his children are more important than the rest of them.

    But that's a religion rant that I will no doubt post a blog of it's own on.

    I'm glad for what I've got, but it's still not compensation for what I don't have. I don't think the gender battle has been won just yet.

    And yeah, I think we should be able to edit too!

  4. Higher bonus's where(apart from banking)? More job offers where? A man isn't going to have the same chance as a woman as a burlesque dancer. You also have to take into consideration that on one day the person giving the job out to the writer might not have been in the right mood to enjoy their work, and on the next day, they were. Or it might've been a different person reading it. Or maybe they were tired and didn't quite spot the writing techniques one day but did the next. You can't just automatically put it down to the fact that you have a vagina. Why are the bonus's twice or three times higher? Did the men manage to somehow make more money for the banks? Did the men somehow manage to give out more loans with ridiculously high interest? It isn't as if the (for arguments sake) male janitor is getting a higher bonus than the highest ranked woman in the company.

    There's things in place now that put women in front of men without question when it comes to jobs. It doesn't matter about skill level or experience, if you're a woman, you have more of a chance.

    Men can't breast-feed, and someone needs to make money. Women can't just have a baby and decide she wants to go back to work and let the man do all of the primary-nuturing just because she's a strong, free, independent feminist! "Fuck the baby! I'm a feminist before a mother!"
    Men aren't as biologically equipped to deal with newborns as women. After a couple of months, then it's fine. I also think that parenting should be a 50-50 thing, and 100% equal. Any man who thinks he deserves praise for doing something as little as paying child support shouldn't have even had a child in the first place. Any man that thinks he deserves praise for always being there for his child should never have had a child in the first place. Works the same for mothers, too, though. A woman will never be a man, and a man will never be a woman, we have different qualities, and more relevantly different nuturing qualities. We are different, so we can't do the same things for a child. We're equal, but different.

    Someone has to do the housework, are you saying that a man should have the two jobs instead? If it's a big issue, and hard work, then why is it alright to give it to the man to do instead of the woman? What if she was living alone? She'd have to do it anyway. Is it alright as long as she doesn't have to do it while one of those disgusting men is there?! A man is usually always going to do the more physically demanding things around the house - that tires us out and makes our bodies sore, so why don't women do it?! I'd rather a woman done it than me hurting my back!

    While you're fighting for freedom as a gender and equality as a gender - the world is already yours. While you're passionately screaming for freedom, other women are taking advantage of it, because they know it's there. It's almost like demanding that little spot the dog gives you the ball back from his mouth cause you want to throw it into the woods, while the ball is in the woodland somewhere already, and he's looking up at you wondering where the fuck the ball is, too. But you scream at him with all your might "SPOT! I KNOW YOU HAVE THAT BALL! I DEMAND YOU GIVE ME IT THIS INSTANT!"

  5. i particularly dont find feminist an attractive or appealling label - the "movement" is an absolute fractured mess. it's diverged into many sub factions which are often poised/orientated against one another . feminists openly "bitch" about other feminists, questioning their motives in the "cause" - it's wildly discouraging for any female I'd imagine. what's more you have feminists openly deriding women who choose to wear high heels who choose to wear lipstick - i stress the word choose here.

    a true feminist in my eyes, does not necessarily have to accept that label because that's all it is in my mind - a word; it means nothing. only by a person's actions can you test their mettle.

    a woman who chews a misogynistic prick out for making a snide remark, who stands up defends herself, asserts herself etc etc but who rejects the label (for whatever reason) is much more of a "feminist" (or embodies what i imagine are the ideals) than a woman who does none of the above but calls herself a feminist, reads de beauvoir, freidman, greer .. and complains about how other women, who reject the label, are letting women down.

    perhaps the most essential feminist is in actuality the one who never even considers gender when it comes to framing her 'self' - her sense of what she "is" does not depend on her gender, it, rather, transcends that; i.e. she doesn't consider herself a "strong woman" rather she considers herself strong and that's it. in the same way she doesn't see the man next to her (if he deserves the label) a "strong man" rather he is simply "strong".

    anyways, irregardless of all that i believe "feminism" no longer plays a role in the above debate. also to be a tad cheeky, it could be argued that it wasn't the "feminists" (i.e. the epousers of the movement labelled "feminism" as it is NOW) who fought for/won the vote - it was the suffragettes. sure you could argue these were the first wave feminists but would their ideals actually align with today's so called feminists? furthermore which faction of feminism would they fall into? food for thought!

  6. Haha, well Anonymous person, I think I like that idea. I'm not really a fan of labels, though I do find myself using them constantly - I guess I'm just a product of my generation or whatever the saying is...

    I agree that we should think of ourselves as people rather than start breaking us all down into categories.
    But my opinion seems to change every 5 minutes, I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm pretty sure it's because I'm a philosophy student.

  7. Feminists do seem to get a bit of a raw deal. I don’t think anybody could (honestly) claim that all society is gender blind, and there is no more progress to be made. Yet it seems socially acceptable to criticise feminism in a way that it is not to pass judgment on gay rights and race rights campaigners. Have our society’s really embraced women’s rights in a way unparalleled in these other areas, or is something else going on here? I am inclined toward the latter. I think part of it may be the focus by some on specific goals of a limited set of feminisms (goals such as “more women in the boardroom” and academic equality), rather than the broader and more important goal of equality for all. It is hardly surprising that this should be the case, but feminism seems to have lost some of the connection it had to wider political movements in the past. Whether a symptom or a cause of some of the common anti-feminist rhetoric, I am not too sure. But it is a trend that surely can not help feminism’s claim to be an important contemporary social movement. I hope that in the not too distant future we will see a revitalisation of feminism and a move back towards an engagement with the broader principles. Principles which should be at the heart of a movement that is still desperately needed in today’s world.

    Also, I would like to quickly comment on some of the points made by other contributors to this debate on your blog. I don’t want to be dismissive but some of it seems a bit silly and desperately grasping to hold on to an untenable position. Have we really not progressed past the point of arguments about more physically demanding housework or the breast-feeding/bread-making dichotomy?