So I’ve been thinking. And I came to a conclusion that no matter how much I share in common with feminists in the conventional definition, I don’t want to participate in much of any discussions in those regards. And when I say I’m a feminist, I feel like I have to explain that I mean it in the original and traditional sense of women having equal footing with men.
But if you are going to start discussing the patriarchy with me, I will shut down and walk away. Because the more I do so, the more I see that women, in a lot of ways, have themselves to blame for the definition of feminism shifting every which way. The women themselves are also to blame for the lack of unity that I often see develop in feminism-oriented community. Women themselves are also to blame for their own lack of cohesion, and lack of perspective of the longer view of feminism and the accomplishments related to that.
As someone who doesn’t relate to women and generally stays away from people, I get the perception of looking from the outside in. I see both sides of social behavior. And I can’t excuse either side from their own shortcomings, and must lay a sizable portion of the blame at the feet of the feminists themselves.
When I look at the progression of feminism in the US, I don’t see a progression. Not in the least. It’s nothing more than fracturing and segmenting, with only a few examples of feminist leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton serving as reminders of what feminism had started out as: the idea that women and men should be on an equal footing. And I no longer see that in the feminism of this country. I see it broken up into…I can’t quite say sects, but it’s the only word that’ll suit…but those small groups and subdivisions tweak and adjust the original meaning of feminism to the degree that it makes me say, “What is this?!”
It goes to say something that, in the largely male-dominated world of jazz music, I’ve encountered problems with maybe – maybe! – three men, as opposed to a far greater number of women. In an earlier post, I detailed some of my grievances as a female photog: people think of me as a groupie, assume that I’m blowing someone to get free admission, assume I’m sleeping with an artist if they’re paying me for my work…the list goes on. I mentioned that if people see me looking cute in a black dress, the first assumption is that I’m banging someone, and someone tells me, “Well, I’d never wear a black dress to a concert” – so in a way saying that if I do dress that way, I’m inviting the assumption – and that comment came from another woman. That’s the part that gets me: I’d almost expect the men to be the ones making those assumptions, but they aren’t. The women, on the other hand, are much quicker with the presumptions.
And in nearly every cheating-husband situation, I see the wife blaming not the man who’s doing the cheating, but the woman he’s cheating with. Which is, to me, foolish at best. Your husband/boyfriend did not accidentally fall into the other woman’s vagina penis first. He made the choice, consciously, to fuck someone other than his wife, on his own. The other woman didn’t make the choice for him.
Why even go so far? Rihanna showed up at an awards show wearing a very see-through dress. A majority of people raised their eyebrows, and a number of people called it slut-shaming. I can see where some would consider it slut-shaming, but let’s look at the bigger picture here: why does Rihanna feel that wearing that dress to an awards show is appropriate? It’s not about denying her the right to wear it – she looks amazing and has the body for that dress. It’s not about “overexposing herself” – she has that right. But simply this: if you’re receiving an award, is this really the dress for the occasion? If she wanted attention, she certainly got it, but is this the kind of attention she wanted? If she wanted to channel Josephine Baker, then why not wear it onstage while performing?
And yet, if I were to put that opinion onto a feminist message board, I’d be accused of slut-shaming before you can blink.
All because I think that the dress was not appropriate for the occasion.
And it’s a perfect illustration of why I’m very hesitant to call myself a feminist.
The thing that feminists today, especially those who are quick to jump down other women’s throats for not seeing a feminist issue in everything around them, need to understand is that changes aren’t wrought overnight. If over the past thirty years we’re still having women paid 77c to a man’s dollar, then we’ve not really accomplished much in the larger scope of things. If you want to fight for something, you have to pick which battle you’re going to fight first, and make sure, first of all, that you’re united in fighting it. If you’re jumping down other people for their opinion, all the while patting yourself on the back for “calling them out”, believe me when I say you accomplish nothing. You accomplish only making yourself look like you’re overreacting, which in turn makes people take you less seriously. And if you’re serious about feminism, you cannot afford to be not taken seriously. If you believe your philosophy is correct, teach it. Teach it in a way that people will absorb and take seriously. If you spend more time calling people out than you do on actually getting your message across, you’re accomplishing nothing, and you’re going to lose more people than you’ll gain.
Again: the feminist ideas and ideology that had precipitated the fight for women’s rights did not get accomplished overnight, nor did it get accomplished with discord within its own ranks.
It’s foolish to assume that if everyone just accepted everything that it’ll all be fine and dandy. That is flat out wrong. You won’t get there with 7 billion people in the world and 7 billion different opinions. It’s just not realistic, and it’s just not the way that life works. You can’t force someone to like or accept something they fundamentally disagree with. And what goes for you does not go for everyone else. You can’t get to the first portion your expectation list if the very last and bottom thing on it isn’t even remotely addressed. And I don’t see how women can, in all essence, claim that they are more than their gender if, so far, they’ve yet to show unity in their endeavor to do so.
I see women jumping on other women for their different opinion a lot more than I see women acknowledging that yes, difference of opinion does exist, and sometimes with very good reason. Nonetheless, it is wholly possible to agree on some very basic things without discord, and the one thing that feminism strives to accomplish, the only thing, really, is that women are people and should be treated as such. When that message is muddled in the current feminism movements, then what, really, is it trying to achieve?
The original feminist movement had the following aims to accomplish the above:
– Right to vote and work
– Pay equal to men
– Not being shackled by biology (in other words, the right to birth control and abortion).
Right now, I’m not seeing the second or the third getting accomplished, but instead I’m seeing a lot of discussion on what is and isn’t patriarchal culture and how a different opinion is wrong. If that’s the case, can someone please explain to me how we can hope to accomplish the second and third items of the list?
Of course, you know, maybe it’s just me, and I’m a pod person or something. But right now, I just don’t see exactly what feminism is, especially in light of what it has become.