Friday, February 24, 2012

Feminism: It's Not the F-Word - Part 1

Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna in her iconic
 "Feminist" sweater.
...  but obviously, many people think it is.

The past few weeks, there's been a war on women and our right to self-determination. It's all wrapped up in politics and religion and ... politics.

Here are a few things that have gone down recently:
  • When Chris Brown, who violently assaulted then- (and now-?) girlfriend Rihanna, performed on the Grammys (an event which offended many women, including survivors of domestic violence), several women tweeted that Brown could beat them.
  • The Susan G. Komen Foundation withdrew funding from Planned Parenthood and then reinstated it after there was an outcry.
  • Republican candidates have spoken out against a mandate that employers provide health care that includes birth control. In a debate, Newt Gingrich said that Obama supports "infanticide" and Rick Santorum said that we need stronger families, rather than birth control.
  • Rick Santorum (again!) said that women in combat will cause problems because men will have "emotions."
  • Michelle Duggar, the mother featured on 19 Kids and Counting,  is publishing pamphlets that advocate the key to a happy marriage is wifely submission.
  • The Girl Scouts were accused by conservatives of having a radical lesbian agenda and one California Scout called for a cookie boycott because Girl Scouts allow transgender boys who identify as girls to be Scouts. In other news, Samoas were accused of having an agenda of liberally spreading deliciousness.
  • Susan B. Anthony had a birthday! She's 192! If you listen closely, you might hear her say, "We've still got a lot of work to do!"
Obviously, in this political season, one party has decided that attacking the freedom of women is a way to be successful. And although there's been a great deal of uproar in response to each of the events described above, there're also way too many people who take these attacks seriously. Not only are they serious, they believe that suppressing women is MORAL, even the will of God.

And even though it's clear that the fight for equal rights, regardless of gender (and regardless of a whole bunch of other factors - such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability... ) is still going on, only about a quarter of women say they are feminists.

 This makes me sad. It makes me sad because in a world in which our country's political leaders actively and openly belittle women and their rights, women don't identify with the movement that has allowed us to:
  • vote
  • get educations and jobs
  • own our own property
  • choose who we want to marry -- or if we marry -- regardless of whether our fathers agree
  • divorce husbands who commit adultery or violence
  • maintain custody of children after those divorces
  • write, act, and produce art under our own names
  • decide how many children (if any) we want to have
  • speak out if we are harassed in the workplace
  • and that's just the beginning...
I know that this is a blog about the environment -- and some other stuff -- but I want to devote a few posts over the next week or two to the continuing battle for equal rights for all humans in our country. Because that's what feminism is all about -- equal rights. Not about hairy legs, not about hating men. It's about equality.

And in the end, many of the people (especially politicians) who do not support the rights of all humans are the same ones who don't support the movement to make our lifestyle more sustainable. It's pretty amazing -- when it comes to a philosophy of caring - for people, for the planet -- one side is curiously silent. They advocate for a Darwinian vision of survival of the fittest.

Oh wait. They don't actually believe Darwin knew what he was talking about...

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