Posts tagged: feminism

Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”

By , July 12, 2014 12:14 am

Someone recently tagged me on Facebook to make me aware of this list on Buzzfeed (tellingly, with the URL ending in “/i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means.”) The friend tagged me specifically because they disagreed with the list, and figured I would too. They were correct.

So, point by point, a response and refutation. All emphasis (underlines/italics/etc) are from the original post.

1.”I don’t need feminism because I don’t want to politicize my gender.”

That’s a lovely sentiment, but others are going to politicize it for you, whether you like it or not. From the Hobby Lobby ruling, giving your boss additional ability to control your healthcare, to politicians attempting to define “legitimate rape” that your body can “shut down,” to politicians rejecting the idea that you deserve equal pay for an equal job, your gender is going to be politicized. So while it’s a noble idea to want to stay above the fray, it’s also a naive and ultimately harmful one. In a world where the political becomes personal, the personal must be political.

2. I don’t need feminism because I am NOTVictim.

I don’t need the civil rights movement because I’m not a person of color. I don’t need to combat Islamophobia because I’m not a Muslim. There is an inherent selfishness in saying “This issue doesn’t directly impact me, so it’s unimportant.” And – in the vein of “The only moral abortion is my abortion” – it’s easy to forget how issues of feminism might impact you until they do impact you.

Continue reading 'Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”'»

What is Feminist Porn?

By , April 8, 2014 1:45 pm

Last weekend, I was in Toronto at the Feminist Porn Awards and the first day of the Feminist Porn Conference. I managed to snag tickets from a friend who had won them as a raffle, and basically told me, “If you can get to Toronto, you can join me at the awards and conference!” Well, obviously I took her up on that. The awards were a ton of fun, and it was interesting seeing an industry celebrating itself like any other. But the conference really got me thinking about issues of porn and feminism, so I figured I’d organize and share my thoughts a bit.

The biggest question that came up as I was getting ready to leave – from friends and family and people on Facebook – was, “Um, what is feminist porn, exactly?”

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5. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) – Essential Feminist Reader

By , May 23, 2013 4:24 pm

I recently picked up The Essential Feminist Reader (which I’ll be shortening to TEFR) a collection of 64 essays and excerpts on feminist from the last six hundred years. Because they’re all delightfully short (an average of about seven pages each) it seems like an approachable way to dive into what I hope will be a much larger self-directed course of study around feminism. My goal is to read at least one essay a week from TEFR and respond to each one over the course of the coming months. I expect the responses to be varied  a summary and commentary (like today), a free-writing process, a poem, whatever  feels right at the time. All of these posts will be under the tag TEFR.

I know, it’s been months since my last TEFR posting. No excuses, just an acknowledgment that my original goal of one of these posts a week seems laughable now. But better late than never! #5 in TEFR is a selection from A Vindication on the Rights of Women (which I’ll shorten to Vindication) by Mary Wollstonecraft. Here’s the Wikipedia article on the essay and and here’s the essay itself.

Vindication is the first essay in TEFR that seems modern and relatable, with relatively few occasions where I was forced to stop and say, “Now, remember, she was just a product of her time.” In contrast to the first four essays, Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelly, of Frankenstein fame) speaks primarily to culture and society and less of God and religion:

…either nature has made a great difference between man and man [sic – at this point she’s talking broadly about everyone], or the civilization which has hitherto taken place in the world has been very partial… women, in particular, are rendered weak and wretched by a variety of concurring causes, originating from one hasty conclusion [that women are naturally lesser than men] Continue reading '5. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) – Essential Feminist Reader'»

Essential Feminist Reader numbers 3 and 4

By , February 21, 2013 4:09 pm

I recently picked up The Essential Feminist Reader (which I’ll be shortening to TEFR) a collection of 64 essays and excerpts on feminist from the last six hundred years. Because they’re all delightfully short (an average of about seven pages each) it seems like an approachable way to dive into what I hope will be a much larger self-directed course of study around feminism. My goal is to read at least one essay a week from TEFR and respond to each one over the course of the coming months. I expect the responses to be varied  a summary and commentary (like today), a free-writing process, a poem, whatever  feels right at the time. All of these posts will be under the tag TEFR.

 Been under the weather, so bad at posting. Sorry! Today, I’m going to combine my responses to the third and fourth pieces in TEFR, The Reply to Sor Philotea by Juana Inés de la Cruz, and A Serious Proposal to the Ladies by Mary Astell. I’m lumping them together because they’re both very much about religion (Christianity, specifically) and women’s place in the world. My quick response to both pieces is as follows: The Bible can be used to support just about anything, from total equality of the sexes to the utter subjugation of women. 

Continue reading 'Essential Feminist Reader numbers 3 and 4'»

2. On the Equality of the Two Sexes (1673) – Essential Feminist Reader

By , February 7, 2013 3:20 pm

I recently picked up The Essential Feminist Reader (which I’ll be shortening to TEFR) a collection of 64 essays and excerpts on feminist from the last six hundred years. Because they’re all delightfully short (an average of about seven pages each) it seems like an approachable way to dive into what I hope will be a much larger self-directed course of study around feminism. My goal is to read at least one essay a week from TEFR and respond to each one over the course of the coming months. I expect the responses to be varied  a summary and commentary (like today), a free-writing process, a poem, whatever  feels right at the time. All of these posts will be under the tag TEFR.

The second piece in TEFR is by François Poulain de la Barre, an excerpt from On the Equality of the Two Sexes. It’s a really interesting piece, due in large part to the contradictions therein. Specifically, de la Barre speaks simultaneously  of not pre-judging women as lesser than men while also speaking repeatedly about how we can pre-judge people on their physical makeup. For example:

Indeed, all of us, men or women, have an equal right to truth since the minds of both are equally able to apprehend it, and since we both react in the same way to objects that make an impression upon our bodies.

I’d completely agree with that statement. de la Barre also discusses the problems of using “effeminate” as an insult, noting that there’s a cyclical nature to how men perceive women: language encourages behavior which encourages language.  Continue reading '2. On the Equality of the Two Sexes (1673) – Essential Feminist Reader'»

1. The Book of the City of Ladies (1405) – Essential Feminist Reader

By , January 30, 2013 2:32 pm

NOTE: As I was looking at grad school this past year, I realized part of my goals – to be more well-versed in feminist history and theory – didn’t require actually going to school; it just required more reading and thinking. As such, I picked up The Essential Feminist Reader (which I’ll be shortening to TEFR) a collection of 64 essays and excerpts on feminist from the last six hundred years. Because they’re all delightfully short (an average of about seven pages each) it seems like an approachable way to dive into what I hope will be a much larger self-directed course of study. My goal is to read at least one essay a week from TEFR and respond to each one over the course of the coming months. I expect the responses to be varied  a summary and commentary (like today), a free-writing process, a poem, whatever  feels right at the time.

The first selection from TEFR is by Christine de Pizan (1365-1430), an excerpt from one of her books, The Book of the City of Ladies (1405). It was striking in thar – up until the very end – the piece seemed incredibly contemporary. Undoubtedly, part of that is due to the translation and part due to the selection of excerpts (an entire book boiled into six pages). Still, take this quote:

I could hardly find a book on morals where, even before I had read it in its entirety  I did not find several chapters or certain sections attacking women, no matter who the author was. This reason alone, in short, made me conclude that, although my intellect did not perceive my own great faults and, likewise, those of other women because of its simpleness and ignorance, it was however truly fitting that such was the case. And so I relied more on the judgement of others than on what I myself felt and knew. (Emphasis added)

That final line resonantes strongly with me. It is certainly true that women have a better place in society than they did in 1405. No argument there. And yet, if someone wrote the above paragraph today, they might be accused of exaggeration or hyperbole, but their point would still be well understood.  Continue reading '1. The Book of the City of Ladies (1405) – Essential Feminist Reader'»

Feminism ruins everything

By , March 13, 2012 10:43 am

This past weekend, I saw a show at a theatre I’ve worked with in the past. The show was, for the most part, really fantastic. Funny, engaging, great set and costume pieces, good sound design, well acted; I have lots of nice things to say about this show. It also had a problematic gendered interaction I’ve been giving a lot of thought. Briefly, there was a main female character and two male characters who were trying to woo her. She was responding to one of them, and clearly rejecting the other. It culminated in a comedic confrontation where she was physically passed back and forth between the two men.

Now, I don’t inherently object to plot lines where a man pursues a woman who isn’t interested. Likewise, this was a show with a lot of clowning, so the physical confrontation was not violent or objectionable in the way it could have been in a more traditional straight play (a term which has nothing to do with sexuality).  Likewise, the rejected man was shamed for his overbearing nature, and kicked out of the show as a result of his behavior. The other guy, the good guy, got the girl and all was right with the world.

At the same time, the way the female lead’s rejection of this man – and, more specifically, the way he responded – made me really uncomfortable. For me, it boiled down to frustration that this production used a character’s belief that “No means yes” for comedic value.

Continue reading 'Feminism ruins everything'»

Fighting the good fight

By , April 11, 2011 1:29 pm

News has come of a transgender man in Canada who is refusing a settlement which would silence him from telling the story of his discrimination:

Last September, the school board offered Buterman $78,000 cash — approximately a teacher’s salary — along with a one-year teaching job in exchange for dropping the complaint. The settlement came with a confidentiality agreement which stipulated he could no longer talk about the complaint or refer to the incident.

Buterman didn’t want to give up talking about the case, since it involves documented proof of anecdotal experiences of many transgender people.

I think that’s pretty awesome, and more power to Butterman. Unfortunately, for financial reasons, it does look like this will be the end of his case against the school: “Buterman’s lawyers have advised him refusing the offer would result in the school board moving to dismiss the complaint because a “fair and reasonable” settlement has been put on the table.”

I want to applaud Butterman for not only standing up to the school, but refusing to accept a settlement which would silence him. I’m always frustrated when I hear stories of injustice silenced after a we-didn’t-do-anything-wrong-even-though-we’re-paying-you-off ‘settlement.’ (I’m not faulting folks who take those settlements, I just wish they weren’t so common.) There’s a good expansion of the issues over at Dented Blue Mercedes.

PS – Check out Show Me Your Feminism, a Tumblr project by a Than Blog reader. (Feel free to take credit in the comments – wasn’t sure how public you wanted your involvement.)

Feminists, hipsters, and a cuddling seal

By , April 7, 2010 4:04 pm

Some links for your Saturday enjoyment. First, from The Guardian, Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt’s radical feminist.

El Saadawi already seems to have lived more lives than most. She trained as a doctor, then worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer, and has published almost 50 novels, plays and collections of short stories. Her work, which tackles the problems women face in Egypt and across the world, has always attracted outrage, but she never seems to have balked at this; she has continued to address controversial issues such as prostitution, domestic violence and religious fundamentalism in her writing.

Very worth reading.

Next, from Feministe, Hipsters, Hasidim and a Bike Lane in Brooklyn.

…this is where I lose sympathy. I get it you’ve lived here longer. And you know what? I do believe that when a wealthier, more powerful group comes into a traditionally marginalized community, seniority does matter. But at some point, you don’t get to pull the seniority card when it comes to your religiously-based objections to female use of public space and transportation. And here, the hipsters weren’t making rules for the entire community. They were using a public street, paid for with everyone’s tax dollars, to ride their bikes. I run out of patience for objections to people using public streets because your religion objects to the female form. I run out of patience where people object to having to see people who are different from them in New York City. This isn’t about, “Damn, all these outsiders are coming in and driving up the rental market and now I can’t afford my place” or “I moved here to live in a neighborhood, not to have a bunch of loud bars built on my block.” This is, “I think that my religious belief regarding the appropriateness of women in public should trump the rights of women to move through public space.”

Continue reading 'Feminists, hipsters, and a cuddling seal'»

La la la, I can’t hear you!

By , October 14, 2009 12:06 am

There’s a post over at Slashdot, FOSS Sexism Claims Met with Ire and Denial (warning: the discussion has gotten large, which means the page takes a while to load) that’s prompted some interesting discussion.  (FOSS = Free, Open Source Software) Basically, someone wrote an article about sexism within the FOSS movement, as well as a followup article about the responses to his first article, and was met with a…less than enthousiastic reaction:

Raise the subject of sexism, and you are met with illogic that I can only compare to that of the tobacco companies trying to deny the link between their products and cancer. Because I took a feminist stance in public, I have been abused in every way possible — being called irrelevant, a saboteur, coward, homosexual, and even a betrayer of the community.

As Slashdot is a mostly-male discussion site, I expected resistance to any claims of sexism, and wasn’t disappointed. To be fair, some of them were totally legit, indicating that the examples given in the article weren’t representative of the community as a whole:

If I haven’t seen it, and no around me has seen it, isn’t the onus on you to give some more proof other than, “Really, guys! Sexism in OSS is real!”

At the same time, there were a lot of people who missed the point, and trying to find examples of tactics listed at Derailing for Dummies quickly got old – there were just too many of them.

However, there were also some great comments in support of the idea that maybe, just maybe, the highly educated and libertarian individuals who tend toward FOSS can also be sexist, and that simply dismissing cries of sexism isn’t really helpful.

Continue reading 'La la la, I can’t hear you!'»

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