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One simple thing

drac emu
Feminism, you'll hear over and over, is the simple belief that women are human beings. However, there's complaints that some feminists take this credo too seriously and therefore are a big pain in the patoot, ruining younger feminists' fun, criticizing their pink minis, and trying to rip their makeup out of their trembling and well-manicured hands.

Society is based on the notion that women are things to be used up and discarded. Therefore, while it is possible to work within a framework of society, one has to be very careful as to how one goes about it. Feminism is nothing less than an insurgency in society, disturbing the very framework of our lives. You have to brace yourself for hostility and hatred when you're an avowed feminist. You're disturbing people who've never much thought about women except when those damned women didn't do what they were supposed to.

Women are supposed to keep society running and to absorb all the dirty work and dirty shit that society creates and does. Women are supposed to be incubators and caregivers for mens' children, absorb their sexist violence and sexual assaults, spend all their time working on their appearance so as to not piss off men by being non-decorative, and do all the housework in addition to contributing half a household's income. Furthermore, all the work they do is part of the framework of society, so any deficiency is what's noticed, not the work itself.

Feminism aims to turn all this upside down. Feminism is rebellion against the powerful, resistance against passivity, and a call to action to overturn the comfortable way the world is run----for men and some comfortable women. In a sexist society, there is no way to avoid sexism. Therefore, feminism requires that you analyze every thing and make conscious choices. Feminism isn't about telling women what to do; it's about letting them know that all the things they've been denied are possible. That said, anyone who mouths blatant lies about feminists and calls themselves a feminist needs to be called out. Feminists don't hate men; society hates men, but at least it rewards them for toeing the line. Women get nothing but more labor when they obey----and maybe a card on MOther's and Valentine's Day. Merely calling one's self a feminist does not make one a feminist, any more than calling one's self a millionaire makes one rich.

Being a feminist is not a lightweight thing. It is not feisty or trendy or easy. People hate feminists, and to that end, they tell lies about them. Feminists hate men; feminists have abortions for fun; feminists hate sex; feminists believe women are good and men are bad. All of these things are either oversimplifications or outright falsehoods. It's not feminists who believe all men are rapists and keep women in a state of fear as a result: it's society, which tells men and women both that if a man has an opportunity to rape a woman he should take it. In fact, feminists are resented for shattering the black and white dichotomy between the sexes. If men are human, as feminists believe, then their inhuman acts become more inexcuseable, especially given the power society grants men. If men are human, then the standard for their behavior should be higher. IF men deserve all the power, then they deserve all the responsibilty as well. If men deserve to make mroe money, then they need to labor more and support more children.

The world is sexist. Women make up seventy percent of the world's poor and in most of the world killing a woman is a lesser crime than killing a man----if it's a crime at all. Baby girls are routinely aborted and exposed to die. Cultures demand that womens' bodies be maimed in a way which is designed to cause pain and death, yet men dare to compare circumscion to mutilation. If a man suffers it, it's abuse; if a woman suffers it, she must be lying. Nowhere in the world do women enjoy the freedom to be human beings instead of reviled scapegoats, yet any sign of rebellion in women is seen as punishable by threats of death, rape, and lies about the simplest of things. There is, for example, a whole class of words used on women that are never used on men, unless of course that men is to be feminized: shrill, harpie, nagging, shrewish, hysterical, emotional, bright, comments about physical attractiveness or clothing, comments about parental identity----women are always mothers, but mens' fatherhood is usually second to their employment status-----and casual sexist rumor are all used against women to lock them in their place as women rather than as people.

Feminism is the ugly fight of one half of the human race to survive the abuse heaped on it----or enabled----by the other half. It's war. One half of the human race isn't even recognized as human---they're lesser creatures. If they were to become human, then it would be impossible to pay them less, rape them, abuse them, beat them, mutilate them, heap labor upon them, and finally demand through all that they be ornamental and amusing-----everything to everyone.

You won't be popular as a feminist. You can't prettify its message, make it palatable to those who use and abuse women, or convince people who don't want to be bothered. Feminism is action instead of reaction, movement instead of cultural inertia, and thought instead of rote acceptance. Merely by demanding action it is threatening. Cultures by their nature, once established, tend to roll along until stopped. Feminism is the mechanism that stops a culture in its tracks and changes its direction.

Don't expect to be liked for it. And don't expect to educate people who claim to be looking for information. While feminism is a lot of things, they're all very simple. Start at the bottom of the pyramid and look at the centuries of oppression and excuses and see how those inform today's thought on women. Go to the next level. It all builds on itself. You can't demand to jump ahead when you haven't mastered the source material. Even so, the concept remains simple and threatening: Women have been denied their humanity too long. Women have been the scapegoats of society forever. If this threatens someone or confuses them, ask yourself why. But don't expect it to be easy or popular.

Comments

( 115 comments — Leave a comment )
the_xtina
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
It's weird to say thanks for information that's kind of depressing, but, thank you for this.
jaegamer
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
Amen, sister-woman. I've been fighting this war since my late teens (since the days of Help Wanted Male/Help Wanted Female). Things improve, then they backslide, but you can't give up the fight. Too much is at stake.
christina_n
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
oooh, and you always get the "I hate you feminists, you're so full of your victim mentality" treatment from conservative women who are more than content not to think about the whole thing.

Also: I suddenly have an indomitable craving to have an abortion for fun . curse you, ginmar!
ravenseer
May. 1st, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
You know an irony about the whole 'abortion for fun' thing? At least for me?

I'm scared to death of any medical instrument going anywhere near that part of me. Period. Even for a smear or a swab.

How anyone could think someone would enjoy having a medical procedure.... jesus H christ!
(no subject) - christina_n - May. 1st, 2007 07:14 am (UTC) - Expand
angrybeaverclub
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
Well said. So often I'm asked why I'm so angry, why I don't concentrate on the good things in life. And you nailed why in this post. Being a feminist isn't some game, or fun, or easy. It sucks because you have centuries of socially ingrained behavior and culture against you, but it's necessary.

I'm gonna be up in MN the 4th through the 10th of July. If you have some time available, I'd like to buy you a beer! :)
ginmar
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
Sure! Well, you'd have to come to the Opium Den and bring it with you, though----I don't do so well outside the house.
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flewellyn
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
This post is, I think, the perfect "Feminism 101" post.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
It is. I'd like to send it to a few people I know, if that's OK. With credit, of course.

Artemis
(no subject) - ginmar - Apr. 30th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - ginmar - May. 1st, 2007 11:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Definitely. - tigtog - May. 1st, 2007 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Definitely. - ginmar - May. 1st, 2007 01:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Definitely. - tigtog - May. 1st, 2007 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Definitely. - flewellyn - May. 1st, 2007 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Definitely. - tigtog - May. 1st, 2007 07:31 am (UTC) - Expand
snowmentality
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
Your posts like this one make me want to blog again, but more seriously than my previous LJ incarnation.
magikmama
Apr. 30th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
A feminist can wear makeup - but wearing makeup is not a feminist thing to do.

The thing about feminism is that it asks followers to understand what is motivating their actions and to realize that alot of what we consider "normal" activities for women exist simply to diferentiate them from men - which is to say that we (women) are all in drag, all the time.

If you choose to wear makeup, it is never a feminist act if you are woman, because in our society there is no way to seperate makeup-wearing from the social definition of women. If you think that is harsh, there was actually a court ruling by the Nevada state court that requiring women to wear makeup is not sexist, provided that men are prohibited from doing so.

The thing is, it is just about impossible to live in our society as a woman and be totally unhypocritically feminist. Let's face it, for the most part, most of us use these as survival strategies if nothing else.
thatdana
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
I dunno. I'm suspicious of this whole vibe that if we're trying to be different in any way from men, we're not feminist. That's how I interpret what you're saying, anyway; correct me if I'm off base. Just in case I'm not, lemme elaborate.

I don't know that it's any more feminist to set conditions on whether a given woman is different from a man. Why? Because it's still setting man as the standard. Why is being "in drag" less feminist than going around barefaced? Why isn't it feminist to encourage men to wear makeup instead?

(OK, I dig that NOT wearing makeup is being in a more natural state. But hey, while we're at it dissing makeup, why not insist that we all go around naked? Face it, part of being human seems to be deviating from the state we were in when we were born. Dunno why, it just is.)

Another point: Face it. (No pun intended.) The statistically normal state for human beings is to come in either male or female models, and to generally be heterosexual in orientation. Homosexuality is a natural deviation from this but for a minority of the population; even among those who are capable of being attracted to those of their own physical sex, they also have heterosexual tendencies. (In other words, purely gay people are the rarest of all.) With all that in mind, the goal for MOST human beings is going to be to seek out heterosexual contact, whether or not they want kids to come out of it. This is why there are physical differences between the sexes beyond shape of genitals, especially now that we don't go around naked.

continued... don't get mad at me yet, lemme finish...
(no subject) - ginmar - Apr. 30th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
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greeneyedkzin
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
Hey, no one told me that women were supposed to shift from submissive financial dependency to earning half the household's income!

That wasn't the way it was in the 1950s! Donna Reed or June Lockhart working outside St. Home!

In other words, because of feminism, it's made things WORSE for "decent" women.

I think you left that out. Feminism is considered a way of making things worse by confusing men and women into making demands that men and women shouldn't have to fulfill: that women are human, and men are human; and, by God, we have earned some respect around here!
mrsveteran
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
"Hey, no one told me that women were supposed to shift from submissive financial dependency to earning half the household's income!"

Damn. Could have sworn I sent you that memo.
(no subject) - greeneyedkzin - Apr. 30th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
mrsveteran
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
Do you really have to be a feminist to criticize a pink mini?

I mean, HELLO? Pink mini? The 80's called, and they want their skirt back.

There are plenty of fashion police out there to decry pink minis without blaming it on the feminists, for God's sake.
greeneyedkzin
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
Depends on the pink mini and who's wearing it.

But I'd say the odds are stacked against it.
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delphyne_
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Brava, Ginmar! Beautifully said.

One thing about being a feminist - it's a hell of a lot better than any of the alternatives.
villeinage
Apr. 30th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
I'm suspicious of this whole vibe that if we're trying to be different in any way from men, we're not feminist

thatdana's comment, above, flabbergasts me.

Feminists do not define themselves in terms of men.

Not wearing makeup, in thatdana's post, is somehow equivalent to 'being like a man', whereas wearing makeup somehow defines us as 'different than men.'

Men are not the default sex.

Oh, except in the eyes of the patriarchy. Then of course, they are.

(Anonymous)
Apr. 30th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
Not wearing makeup, in thatdana's post, is somehow equivalent to
'being like a man' ...


Apparently, the unadorned female face is male. Despite the fact that women are also simultaneously "different" from men. And BTw, that difference must be artifically painted on our faces every morning.

o_O
(no subject) - magikmama - Apr. 30th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
teacupdiaries
Apr. 30th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
I have nothing coherent to say this evening, but I will say this. . .

Today I had an uppity 15 year old boy call me a sexist because I wouldn't let him take his exam in the room specifically set aside for children with learning disabilities.

It was very hard not to slam the door in his face or sit him down and lecture him about feminism for an hour.

I feel particularly jaded about this.
greyladybast
Apr. 30th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Today I had an uppity 15 year old boy call me a sexist because I wouldn't let him take his exam in the room specifically set aside for children with learning disabilities.

Ok, so the "HUH?" light is flashing now. How is that one supposed to add up, anyway?
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al_zorra
Apr. 30th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
What Is A Woman?
I have a friend who underwent the series of surgical and drug procedures in the earlier days of transgender surgeries, going from man to woman.

So she's been a woman now for several decades.

Nevertheless she's never changed her attitude about male privilege a bit, and expects in every gathering to be 'the man,' to be deferred to without discussion, to never do housework, etc. She's also, though self-identified as a lesbian, still as predatory in her pursuit of women as any horndog man I've ever known, not in the least above utilizing lies and even a bit of intimidation to get her way.

ginmar
Apr. 30th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Re: What Is A Woman?
Well, then, she's an asshole. I can't speak to how common that type of reaction that is.
Re: What Is A Woman? - villeinage - Apr. 30th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What Is A Woman? - al_zorra - Apr. 30th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Re: What Is A Woman? - christina_n - Apr. 30th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What Is A Woman? - al_zorra - Apr. 30th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What Is A Woman? - mamid - Apr. 30th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
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You know.... - ginmar - May. 1st, 2007 01:07 am (UTC) - Expand
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mamid
Apr. 30th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
Feminism... hell, women bloggers are under attack. From Washingtonpost.com
Sexual Threats Stifle Some Female Bloggers.

What pisses me off the most is this passage:She and five other women have asked the man's Web site server to shut him down, but he revives his site with another server. Law enforcement officials laugh it off, she said, "like 'Oh, it's not a big deal. It's just online talk. Nobody's going to come get you.' "

1: He shuts down but starts new elsewhere. Why aren't the ISPs talking to each other as to why something was shut down?
2: Law enforcement laughing it off. What if it was a phone call instead - what is the difference between a blog post and a phone call? Except that blog posts aren't as transient as a phone call!
siliconshaman
Apr. 30th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah... society is rotten to the core. This is not news.

sunfell
Apr. 30th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
I am a disobedient, intelligent, self-actualized, non-conformist agnostic feminist.

I disobeyed my dad and chose my education and my career. Today, I am in a career I like, and make decent money at it.

I disobeyed my grandmother and chose not to hide my light beneath a basket. If people made disparaging remarks about my bookish tendancies, I ignored them.

I ignored all the magazines and cultural signals that told me that I had to be dependent upon a man, hateful of my body, lustful after babies, and generally placid and domestic.

I chose to listen to my own inner voice, not those of men, who invented all the rules and gods and dogmatic crap that keep women crushed underfoot and afraid.

And I decided to pitch the boy-god and his men-in-dresses with their hatred towards me out of my life and my mind. Preachermen have no power over me. I prefer to have power within. I see them for the parasites that they are.

That is my feminism. My choices get questioned a lot, but much less than they were when I was younger. Now the questions I get asked are 'how did you do it? How can I do it? What is your secret?

My secret? Be true to yourself. This is not selfishness- it is survival, and it is the right of every human being alive- not just men. And that is what they fear- that we will learn that we do not have to serve them without expectation of being truly served in return. But that is what we- and they must learn and practice to become true peers. We must serve each other equally, not hierarchially.
yo_onions
May. 1st, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
yes, it is war
It really is a war. I was never supposed to grow up to be an adult. I was supposed to atrophy in order to remain at the emotional and intellectual level of a preadolescent. Both my parents -- in particular my father -- brought immense force upon me (physical punishments and emotional blackmail) in order to prevent me from growing up. For many years, I developed chronic fatigue syndrome, because I couldn't understand the nature of the underlying hatred. Then, finally, when I was already in my late twenties, the scales fell off my eyes, and I understood that what I was encountering was an extreme and virulent form of misogyny. In order to fight this back effectively, I had to tell myself "I'd rather die than live under those conditions chosen for me on the basis of my gender." It was my way of making an internal, emotional summing up of who and what I was, and what I was prepared to stand for.
drusila
May. 1st, 2007 11:45 am (UTC)
I love this.
May I repost this on my blog with credit and a link back to you?
ms_interpret
May. 2nd, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna friend you, 'k? :)

I wandered over here and liked what I saw. This post cemented my desire to keep reading what you have to say.
( 115 comments — Leave a comment )

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