Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Adorkable Feminist

Or... Feminism Part 2, a matter of definitions
(click here for Part 1)

So, the definition of feminism is this:
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

Which is practically the least offensive thing ever, right? Unless you're Rick Santorum.

So here's the prob, Rob.
Or Roberta.
A lot of anti-feminists claim that's not actually the definition of feminism. Here's how one website defines feminism:

"♦ Feminism had nothing to do with getting the vote.
Feminism is not about equality. Feminism is about extremism.
Feminism isn't about bringing out those traditionally female attributes of nurture and care.
Feminism is about telling women what they should be and restricting their choices.
Feminism hates men. Feminism doesn't want a woman to feel loved.
Feminism is deceitful and dishonest."

Basically, they are saying that if you say you are a feminist, and you aren't a man-hating liar, then you're wrong about what feminism is. So not only are you not a feminist, according to them, you're also stupid.

(Just Google anything like "percentage of women who are feminists" and you start getting similar hate-filled rants after three or four links.)

A lot of women also believe that to claim the label of "feminist" means to claim the popular image of a humorless woman who never shaves her legs and wears cardigans covered in cat hair.

I'm here to say: I'm a feminist. And I'm adorkable.

You see, Entertainment Weekly had a whole article about the TV show The New Girl this week. It was about how some feminist critics bashed The New Girl, because Zooey Deschanel's character acts too much like a "little girl." The show's creator is a feminist, and based a lot of the character on herself. So of course, she felt pretty crap about all that.

Again, a problem of definitions. Some feminists, just like the dude above, seem to be saying that true feminists have to claim more than just a belief in equal rights. They have to be serious. They have to be adult. They don't play the ukulele.

photo source: so ironic...

I am a feminist. I claim a belief in the equal rights of all humans. But I'm not just a humanist because I believe we live in a patriarchal society which systematically oppresses women. "Systematic oppression" does not mean that there is a group of men somewhere deciding to oppress women (although the GOP seem to be trying to give the impression that they are that group). No, it refers to the accumulation of largely sub-conscious cultural and personal acts which serve to advantage men and disadvantage women.

But I also believe that a feminist can wear sparkly shoes and make up twee songs if she wants to. God knows I do. In fact, I believe the fact that such "feminine" actions are viewed as "unserious" and "childish" is a result of said patriarchal oppression. My sparkly shoes are fighting the power!

As long as women or men make us believe that claiming feminism means also claiming the popular perception of feminism, then we've got a problem.

1 comment:

Catfish said...

My friend IfbyYes said she was having trouble commenting, so here's what she said (let me know if you're also having trouble!)

And then you have women like Meyer who mistakes it for "Kung Fu" :-p

My only problem with some "feminists" I have met is that people mix up "equal to men" with "the same as men" which actually means that we try to achieve equality by eliminating or reducing our own femininity. We can do the same jobs as men! Dress like men! Vote like men! All of which yes, we should be able to do, but which just shows us how deep the "men=better" assumption goes.

I'll know that feminism has REALLY done its job when men start fighting to be able to be more like women...