Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why Aren't You a Feminist?

It baffles me a bit that Feminism has become an accusation of sorts. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "I suppose you’re one of THOSE Feminists." I’d be able to afford to get both my nipples pierced, start an own all-girl band and go on tour in a custom painted lavender bus with my two German Shepherds, Sapho and Lesbo.

Of course I’m a Feminist.
Why aren’t you?

What’s wrong with believing that everyone should be treated fairly? Is it too much to think that when women earn 72% of what men earn, it’s not good enough? Shouldn’t it bother me that the single biggest predictor of poverty in this country for women and children is divorce, while at the same time, the standard of living for the average man improves after divorce? Is it too much to ask for one out of 53 Presidents to be a woman? How about any minority? Could we possibly have equal representation in our law-making bodies? The Supreme Court? When money is allocated for medical research, is it fair that more funding goes to assist in the treatment and cure of diseases that effect men? Doesn’t it bother everyone to know that 1 out of 5 women will be the victim of partner violence in her lifetime?

And, don’t get me started again about the double standard when it comes to the free expression of sexuality.

I could go on and on about the injustice that plagues our society. It’s not just gender inequities either. Anyone who understands Feminism also understands that the basic premise of equality includes everyone. This encompasses racial & ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, sexual minorities and others.

Does it really boil down to fear and greed? Are we all so concerned about sharing our stuff with others? Is it the label? Do we think everyone will think we’re a bunch of big ol’ Dykes? (as if that’s a bad thing) Will they assume we stopped shaving our armpits? Are you guys going to turn into pansies if you think that your wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters, and mothers deserve the same opportunities as you have?

It was my Dad who raised me to be a Feminist. He didn’t do it by reading me Audre Lorde and Gloria Steinem, or teaching me to spell women, womyn. He simply treated me exactly like I was a person. Not only that, he believed that I was capable of doing anything. As a matter of fact, he still does.

My Dad’s a Feminist. He might not have said so while I was growing up, but he’d say so now. I think it all started for him on the day I was born.
We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. Gloria Steinem
I’m lucky to have the best Dad in the world. If you want to read more about him, go


At 7:36 AM, Blogger K-Dub said...

It is the way our society was brought up to believe. Only now have we overcome thousands of years of brainwashing. I too at one time wanted an at-home wife to rub my feet and take care of me when I got off work. But in my years of travel I have seen how much more you can enjoy from the opposite sex when they are NOT inhibited by the "WAY ITS SUPPOSE TO BE".

Being African American give me (IMHO) a greater insight to your plight than most, because we are fighting the same uphill battle (of sorts). The average Black Male makes 63% of his white counterpart (FYI). I think for some "Feminist" is the jab back at women (Excuse me WOMYN :)for so many years of chauvinist. Althought for some its considered the same difference, they are worlds apart. BUT on the other hand there are things that (women I mean womyn) would rather a man do and that is where it gets a little gray.

I'll shut up now talking to much...

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a feminist and proud of it.
I think what happens with every movement is that sometimes the extremes end up being defined as the norm by those who oppose the movement, at all. So, all those who are (insert pretty much any label here) get defined by the actions of a few and those within the movement are frequently hesitant/politically unable to disagree because of what it would do to any sense of solidarity/unity within the movement.
On an odd little note, it seems as though having "ist" on the end of label makes a strange difference, too. With a few exceptions, labels with "ist" on the end aren't seen as being complimentary.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Leo said...

Hi there---love your blog...very cool reading that helps break up my day.

Gotta disagree with you about the oft-quoted 72% figure. Not true. If so, I would open up a business with all women employees and have a very strong business advantage over other more diverse operations.

It all has to do with demographics and jobs that the sexes are willing to take. More men apply for and work in dangerous occupations that pay more than women do. More men put a higher priority on $ versus family life than women do, making that choice either by want or necessity.

Those are the things that are behind this 72% figure that gets bandied about.

Keep up the good work.....

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leo, there's another side to the arguement against the 72% thing, too: that the arguement is one about values and the value of work. If you want to look at something intersting, look at the highest paying jobs ( vs. the most dangerous jobs ( Again, I think this says something about how we value different kinds of work, too.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger theresa said...

k-dub - I want someone to rub my feet and take care of me when I get off work too. I wouldn't call him my wife, I'd call him my Houseboy ... and I'd pay him a ridiculously huge salary. Gotta cling to those fantasies!
Seriously, oppression victimizes many groups in our culture. Although great stides have been made to break down barriers, we are fooling ourselves if we think we are remotely close to reaching our goals.
... and some men would rather not do jobs that other men do, ... and some women & men would rather not do jobs that other women do ... etc.

Popeye - Thanks for your input. I was thinking the same thing and was hoping it would become part of the dialogue.

Leo - Thanks for loving the blog. I'd enjoy the opportunity to discuss your point further, but fear I would take up too much space here ... and I'm late for work. Maybe I'll post on that particular point asap and we can get into it more.

Popeye - Nice response.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger K-Dub said...

Take it from someone that is working one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, Thats crap. We don't pay more because the job is more dangerous if that was the case I would be a millionaire right now.

IE. to Theresa's point someone was hired at the largest creditcard supplier in the world (woman). She did her job so well that she became the templete for the other employees(male) that were hired after her that were making 10,000 more a year (20% more).

At 1:59 PM, Blogger K-Dub said...

Oh ya and I am a feminist, and you don't have to pay for the foot treatment Theresa, for some its part of the package. :)

At 5:37 PM, Blogger figleaf said...

I have several ideas why feminist has become sort of an eight-letter word. At an inevitable point in the emergence of feminism a subset of bitterly (and justifiably) angry women came to prominance in the movement, on the one hand alienating the majority of far less radical feminists, and on the other hand providing opponents of feminism ripe targets for satire and backlash.

The weird thing about it, to me, is the vast number of women who say "I'm not a feminist, but..." and then proceed to list feelings about sex, gender, politics, and philosophy that are totally in line with what you or I (or any thoughtful person) would say made them precisely a feminist. Conversely, a surprising number of women say "I'm a feminist, but I still..." and then proceed to list feelings that again ought to be acceptable within feminism.

So why the rift between perception and reality? And what can be done to heal it, or re-brand it, or redefine it, or rename it so that the vast, vast majority of women who value the principles if not the name, and the substantial plurality of men who share those principles, have a hat to hang their ideas on?

It's not like it's not one of the most important things that need to happen. It is! It's critical. I dearly wish what we called it wasn't such a distraction.

For what it's worth I'm a 4th-generation non-difference/equality feminist. With a lot to learn, yes, but still a feminist from heart to head.

At 10:43 PM, Blogger Monkey said...

i love your blog...

and the letter to your father is would be nice to say that i had similar things to say about my birth father...but i do not...i love the reason you did not change your name...


At 11:59 PM, Blogger devon said...

is there a place to apply for the houseboy postion?

At 12:36 AM, Blogger Clark K. said...

If you don't give yourself your a label, like 'feminist', than people can't categorize you into a group. Instead they just have to listen to what you are saying. And even if they don't listen, you didn't give them a false impression that you belong to 'that group' or 'this group', but rather were just stating your opinion.

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Allen said...

In my experience, there are different types of feminists. There are the ones that simply want what you describe, equality. I'm all for that. Then there are the extremes; either they want to be treated better than men, by men, or they are man hating, castrating, power bitches.
I've been yelled at more than once for doing something nice for a complete stranger (women) simply because I did it. One time I gave up my seat on a crowded bus for a woman, she glared at me and said something about not needing a man to affirm some stereotype about women. I took my seat back and said nothing. On several occasions I have been rebuked for holding a door open for a woman. Some feminists take these types of acts, and any other gentlemanly acts, to be condescending. These are the women that usually pop into my mind when some one mentions the word "feminist" but I can only speak for myself there.
I don't do these things because I think women "need" my help and special treatment. I do them because I was taught to respect women. I treat elderly people the same way, male or female, because I was taught to respect my elders. I have never once had an elderly person yell at me for treating them with respect.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger kelebek }{ said...

I love those shirts that says "This is waht a feminist looks like." If I ever see one, I would buy it and wear it with pride. People often think a Muslim feminist is an oxymoron. I say why not? My religion considers men and women equal. Although traditions tend to skew this view, ie the woman in Saudi Arabia not being able to drive. Umm, hello where did you read that rule? I had a license as soon as I legally could. Freedom baby!
Sigh, we need more men like you out there. I don't think there is anything non-feminist (is that even a word?) about holding a door open for a woman. By holding a door you are not saying "I am better than you so I'll hold this door open for you." Yeesh, that doesn't even make sense!!
kelebek }{

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the seat giving up, door opening thing is tricky. The intent is usually very kind and good and the intent is to be appreciated. The fact that some people expect it and some people don't want it makes it all even more difficult. What makes it even more difficult is that some people do give up their seat/open a door with the thought in mind that the person needs the seat because they're somehow less able to stand or less able to open a door on their own. You run into both of these lines of thinking and it can make it friggin' tough. I've made the decision to open the door for anybody and graciously receive the gift of someone opening the door for me. I only give up my seat on the bus/train if its someone who obviously could be helped by a seat and graciously accept the seat when its offered to me (such as on those days when my arms are full of stuff from work).
Still, this dilemma is a smaller one that is in a pretty fluid state compared to salary discrepancies, consumer discrimination (in situations where negotiation is needed, male sales persons will generally not give women a better discount IF they speak to a woman in their workplace at all - car dealerships get nailed with this frequently), genital mutilation, reproductive choice, rape, etc. To take the time to work on some of these larger issues is one of the best ways to show how much you respect women and their rights to self-determination and definition.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger theresa said...

k-dub - Good point about money not following danger. Two of the most dangerous non-military jobs are farming and driving cabs. Although they are largely done by men, they are not well paid.
... and you're adorable when you flirt with my tootsies.

figleaf - Well said! An excellent addition to this conversation. You're singing my song, baby!

monkey - I realize I hit the jackpot in the Dad department. It's important not to take such gifts for granted.

devon - my fantasy millions haven't arrived yet, but as soon as they do, I'll let you know.

Clark K - I've missed you like crazy!!! Are you okay? Where have you been? Are you having too many great adventures to spend time in blogland?

Allen - It stinks when someone misinterprets our behavior. You meant something different when you held a door open or offered your seat. Likewise, I was equally surprised when a man told me that the clothes I was wearing meant that I wanted him to have anal sex with me
... yes, it really happened
... at work
... oh, and it was one of the supervisors ...
For the most part, I think those are extremes. Most women, including women who are feminists, believe opening a door is a polite gesture. Likewise, most men don't harrass me at work.

Kelebek }{ - I love those T-shirts too. If I can find them, I'll get one for each of us. It will be a belated birthday present.

Popeye - You said, "To take the time to work on some of these larger issues is one of the best ways to show how much you respect women and their rights to self-determination and definition."
... you totally get it, babe!

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Bryna said...

Next time you get that comment respond by saying, "No, I'm not a Feminist... I'm an Equalitist!" It isn't about just being a women and not treated equal... it's about every factor and not being treated equal.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Allen said...

Heh, you should have told anal-clothes guy how glad you were that he picked up on that because you've got this massive strap-on that you've been dying to try out on somebody.

Ya, a little off color but he'd probably leave you alone after that. :)

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Kyle Stich said...

"And, don’t get me started again about the double standard when it comes to the free expression of sexuality."

I'm pretty sure you're referring to the whole slut/stud deal, Theresa, but another double standard exists in the realm of sexual expression.

Look at the name of most erotic writers, and you'll discover the market consists mostly of women. Yes, some of those writers may be labelled "sluts," but men who write in this genre (excluding homoerotic writings) are called "pigs" and "mysogonists."

I know this from experience. I've had a few women go off on my erotica, or tell me that if I'm going to write in the style, give it more class...meaning don't write anything sincere unless it involves "love and sensuality," nothing hardcore.

So, yes, there exists double standards of sexual expression in the U.S., but women aren't the only victims.

As far as your quote from Gloria, my mom raised me with a strong influence of feminism, albeit a sort of female chauvinism.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Dannyness said...

It's amazing how labels that denote decidedly positive ideals get turned into dirty words. Liberal another one that comes to mind.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Al said...

I really enjoy your blog - very talented and you make me laugh!
This may sound wierd coming from one of the empowered (white, male),
but why does it matter what race, creed, color or sex does it matter when it comes to a paycheck. Heck if a martian does the same job as I am, it (hopefully, I don't offend any Martians - they've got death rays, ya know) should get the same pay I do. Seniority, education and skillset does play a role. But all things beinging relatively equal, treat everyone (and thing - martians, keep forgetting about them) the same.
I was brought up to believe that everyone should be respected - doesn't matter what they do, how much they make or where they live. Simple respect - saying please, thank you; calling someone sir, maam , Mr. such and such, Ms. Such and such; and the biggest, never believe that you are better than anyone else. For some reason people have come to believe it's there place in life to belittle and oppress others. My mom once said to me, if you go to lunch with someone and they are pleasant to you but rude to the waiter (waitress or martian), they are not a nice person.
Simple, but telling

At 3:27 PM, Blogger R said...

I am not against feminism, but I am against man haters. Just because I am a man doesn't mean I am one who impedes the progress of women. I feel we all deserve to be treated the same, but when a woman starts ranting about how men are bastards yada yada yada, THAT makes my blood boil.

We are all of the same, we each possess certain strentghs and weaknesses, and if we could harness eachothers strentghs there is no limit as to what we may achieve.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the African American, Jewish, Lesbian, bass players dating the Latina, Buddhist, bi-sexual, dentist that have it the worst in this country.


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