“Well, I’m not really one of those feminist-type people, you know.”
Actually, I don’t know. I’ve heard the above statement from (what seems to me) legions of people on and off the internet and I don’t know what they’re talking about. What are they trying to tell me, that they’re against gender equality? That they think their mothers are somehow less than their fathers and they hope their daughter will one day live as a second class citizen in her married home?
There are, of course, people out there who do feel that way. They might not come out and say it in so many words (although there are exceptions to that rule) but when someone says to you: “I’m against feminism because I don’t see the need for it. Here in the [insert appropriate nation / region / religion] we treat women with respect. These rules that restrict women’s [mobility / agency / rights in general] have been formulated for their own protection. We respect our women so much, we like to protect them.”
The fact that this whole “protection” business rests on the character of the male involved i.e. whether he is genuinely invested in guarding the best interests of the women he’s related to or whether he’s just a petty domestic tyrant is kind of lost here. Besides, of course, the deeper and more fundamental problems with their stance.
Point is, I expect the “I’m not a feminist / I’ve never thought about it” sidestep from people who’re innately opposed to gender equality for whatever reason. But when I hear someone who identifies herself/himself as separate from that category of people trotting that line out, I admit I lose my patience a trifle. I get the fact that radical feminism isn’t something that everybody can throw their weight behind, but there’s a handy little cliche that addresses issues like that: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
It is perfectly possible for human beings to recognize nuance in an argument.
By the grace of God, I was born into a family that has always been on the liberal side, by custom as well as bent. I have never faced any discrimination based on my gender (well, when I was little, my brothers would banish me to the other side of the room when they were all bonding over dirty jokes but I’m not sure that counts) within my family or outside. I have the right to vote, wear what I choose, say what I like and live exactly the way I want as long as I don’t physically or financially harm somebody. Life is pretty darn good. Perhaps yours is too.
And I think every human being should have the rights that I do, irrespective of race, gender, class, nationality and sexual orientation.
I guess that makes me a flaming social liberal and I’m proud to be one. That also makes me a feminist and I’m proud of that too. Which is why I’ll be one of the bloggers sending in an entry to Apu when she hosts The Carnival of Feminists this October 24th.
I’m not going to tell you how to spend your free time or what to post on your blog – but I will say that this is an opportunity to ignore the “ism” and concentrate on the “feminine” part of “feminism” and see how other people react to your ideas. You won’t get any dreaded feminist cooties on you by thinking about what women or being a woman means to you. I promise. And I, for one, would love it if some male bloggers decided to write a little something. Your mom, your kindergarten teacher, the movie star you fell in love with, the woman who cleans your apartment, your college professor, the woman who sat next to you on the bus…
It doesn’t have to be supportive of the “cause”… I just think that more of us should spend a little time thinking about the Other in our lives. And gender is a pretty basic Other. Natalie Bennet, who set the ball rolling, says:
I’d say that a “feminist” post doesn’t have to directly address what is commonly defined as “politics” – as we all know the personal is political – but there should be some sense in a post addressing women’s place in the world. Posts should also be more than a collection of links, and include substantial original content.
Posts that celebrate women’s lives and contributions to society – either current-day or historical – are particularly welcome. Posts will usually have been made in the period since the last carnival. (Only one nomination per blog please.)
And if any of you feel men and men’s issues are being ignored, then why don’t we have a Carnival for Men sometime? I’ll contribute. I have so much to say.