Tag Archives: feminist

Feminist: It’s Not a Buzz Word

There has already been much written about the Time magazine decision to include feminist as a choice in it’s poll for what word should be banned in 2015, as well as the apology issued after the initial outcry.  I personally think that the whole point of this ‘poll’ is stupid, considering it pokes fun at/dismisses slang language which is largely used by a young and diverse population (“The list is supposed to be funny, but it is largely a policing of the vernacular of anyone who isn’t a white, heterosexual man.~ Roxanne Gay“). Here is the description from the actual poll site:

If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us. ~ Time

I personally think that part of what makes language so cool is the way that it can change over time, the way expressions can be created out of nothing and the way that different groups can create their own vernacular. It is always changing, through both the addition of new words and through the evolution of the meaning of known words. Language is not static. It’s a beast of our own making, and it grows and changes along with our cultural shifts and revelations (revolutions). It transforms as the world transforms, it is remade and recreated as we remake and recreate the world around us. Language can be empowering and affirming. It can help shape our culture and our identity.

TimeList
the full list.

That being said, language can also limit our world view. Gendered pronouns, for example (she/he, his/her) and also words like husband and wife, do more than just describe a person or their marital status. They can create a world that is seen is distinct binary opposites, when in fact our world includes lots of grays and queers and inbetweens. Words  have subtext, and meanings outside of strict definitions that are culturally confirmed, and words can be used to condescend or confine.  The history of a word can never be erased, and reclamation attempts can fall short if that history is full of hate (bitch, the n word, dyke… I’m not of the belief that words can be totally ‘reclaimed’.) And this fact, the very idea that the construction and use of the English language continues to be a tool of patriarchy, is an excellent example of why the word feminism is (still) a vital word in need of broader understanding and utilization.

TimeDefinition

And I get it, it’s supposed to be a joke. Like ‘OMG people keep talking about this, enough already.’ And I agree, enough already. Enough with pay inequality and the epidemic of sexual violence. Enough of the objectification of the female body, enough of the over-sexualization of girls and of slut shaming and of the fight against basic health care for women and families. Enough of a culture that caters to white men and attempts to silence other voices through ridicule or outright lies. Enough of the beauty industry and the impossible standards foisted on women and girls. Enough of the interrogation of ‘whose a feminist’ and ‘is she a good feminist’ and ‘is she a good mother’ and ‘is she pretty enough’ and ‘is she young enough’ (shout out to Hillary) and ‘who is she sleeping with’ and ‘should she be doing that’. Enough.

thatsenough

 

Feminist, believe it or not, is not a buzz word. Feminism is a movement that has been around for more than 100 years, and, as Robin Morgan points out, feminists have been at the forefront of almost every social justice movement in American history. The fight for equality in all aspects of daily life is not a fad. The issues that feminism seeks to untangle are complicated, deeply rooted, and backed by a couple thousand years of patriarchal and misogynistic cultures. The fight cannot be won by laws or politics alone, as indeed all social justice movements require both the support of governing bodies and the hearts and minds of citizens. Women are half of the population for fuck’s sake. This movement is not a trend. It has a storied history as part of not only American, but global culture. And on my more optimistic days I believe that the internet will prove to be a tool of social justice and empathy and global momentum, and I think that one day our collective voices that proclaim ‘Women matter‘ or ‘We woke up like this‘ or ‘I am woman, hear me roar‘ will drown out the backwards thinking miscreants who would agree that this word (along with the movement and peoples it describes) should be banned.

hearmeroar2

I’ll leave you with another quote from Robin, because frankly, I couldn’t have said it any better:

But I confess that for me feminism means something more profound. It means freeing a political force: the power, energy and intelligence of half the human species hitherto ignored or silenced. More than any other time in history, that force is needed to save this imperiled blue planet. Feminism, for me, is the politics of the 21st century. ~ Robin Morgan

yaaaassss-gif- jt yaaaassss yyyaaaassssss

 

 

 

JGL: Comes Out as Feminist ! (GASP!)

We all remember Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Yes.
Yes.

Child Star treasure. Teenage heartthrob.

This movie stands the test of time.
This movie stands the test of time.
Precious.
Precious.

We remember collectively experiencing shock and awe while watching Inception, thinking ‘When did Joseph Gordon Levitt turn into such a MAN?! And is this real or in a dream???!!!’

That hair. That vest. That jawline. Em. Yes.
That hair. That vest. That jawline. Em. Yes.

Well, he’s officially blown my mind again by going on Ellen and boldly claiming the title feminist.

If lip synching on Jimmy Fallon didn’t already have me swooning, this sure did. I mean, it shouldn’t be such a huge deal, but we still live in a world where celebrities are avoiding the title feminist like it’s a fucking plague. And to have JGL in our camp, we’ll that’s just unreal. He is handsome, smart, majorly talented, funny and cool. People think he is a cool guy, a nice guy, a guys guy. It’s still the case that many people align with feminist goals and values but don’t use the word. Maybe even some of you. But let’s use the simple and wonderful definition from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (that Beyonce features in her song ***Flawless!) “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” When you break it down like that, it’s hard to understand why more people don’t come aboard. Or, is it?

He gets it.
He gets it.

The media has done a lot of work to paint feminists as angry, man-hating, fun-sucking, ever so serious and ever so hairy ladies. This is basically false, other than sometimes being angry (because some aspects of our culture should make us all angry) and hairy (because everyone has body hair… duh.) One day, I envision young pop starts and box office busting actors saying ‘Yea, of course I’m feminist! [insert charming joke here.]’ Because it’s not really radical to want a world where people are treated like people first, and where women and men don’t treat each other like separate species.

Tie. Vest. Tousled hair.
Tie. Vest. Tousled hair.

A few years ago there was this article in the New York Times Magazine about how women’s issues were the moral issue of this century. I still believe that, and I think we are going to need more brave folks like JGL to step up and speak out about their feelings, and to wear the feminist badge proudly. If JGL, all charm and coiffed hair and vests, can claim the badge and retain his like-ability and cool factor, there is hope yet.

One more. Because I can.
One more. Because I can.

Anti-Women Politics. Really Very Infuriating

Shout out to my partner in crime Amanda for sending me this article. Things like this make me really angry, and sometimes after a day of recovering from last night it’s nice to get riled up. This, kiddies, is gonna be a rant.

In an article you can find here, although I’m gonna paraphrase it so it’s up to you, I learned just how cracked out old white men really are. Our government wants to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood. If you’ve never been to PP, let me tell you about them. They provide basic healthcare, including diabetes screening, breast and cervical cancer screenings, PAP smears, and STD tests. Mostly, they provide for low income women, including minors. PP began in 1916, and since then they’ve been working to provide comprehensive healthcare that respects the rights of individuals. (check out their facebookpage, I’m borrowing heavily. Yay research!)

Of course, no one is really talking about all that. They are taking the brilliant reductionist approach, and talking about abortion. Which PP does do. Legally. And, it doesn’t use any of the government funds to do so, cause that shit is already prohibited. Some people think PP is a waste of the governments money, probably the same people that think universal health care makes us socialists. But these same people have no plan in place to protect the women who depend on these services. ‘Sure, but Lexi,’ you might ask, ‘why do women need their own healthcare places? Do they have special needs?’ Well, you, the answer is OF COURSE WE DO! First of all, when modern medicine was coming into being, it was being written by men. By men and for men. So women’s bodies, from the start, are marked as ‘other’. Why do you think menstruation is such a big deal? Cause men think its fucking outrageous that we can bleed for seven days and not die. If women had been the pioneers of the profession, it would just be a normal part of life. Which it is. In fact, it’s kind of awesome. God women are cool…

But I digress. Women focused/friendly healthcare is hard to find. Especially if you are broke and/or uninsured. Women have unique needs, and marginalized women have unique concerns. Birth control is a huge deal, especially when you consider that some women might have partners or husbands who oppose using it. Screenings of all kind are also important, as most diseases are treatable if caught early. To say that an organization who provides these things is a waste of money is incredibly short sighted and does not take into account the needs of ALL women.

Ok so real quick, abortion. I can’t bring myself to say that you have to believe in abortion to be a feminist. But on the other hand, a movement does have to have some perimeters or it is meaningless. So when Sarah Palin says she’s a feminist, I say well that just a crock of shit. She is a woman who is a product of a movement that she in no way supports. I mean, encouraging women to be more politically active is great. But all of her other stances are anti-woman. My personal views on abortion are not relevant, what’s relevant is that I support each woman’s right to make her own decision. To say otherwise means that you support forcing a woman to endure a dangerous, 9 month period of physical change and discomfort. It also means that women don’t matter as much as a potential man. I really really hate that abortion is such a marquee issue, but I understand that people wanna weigh in on who gets personhood. Mostly, however, its a medical procedure and it shouldn’t matter why it’s necessary and for that matter if you don’t have a uterus you shouldn’t get a say in the issue at all. Because you will never be effected by the debate the way any woman would be.

Whew. Ok that was a lot. Here’s the thing though guys, no one wants to have an abortion. It’s not fun. Its an agonizing decision and a really shitty experience. I think if we had better healthcare and eduction we could avoid the whole mess way more than we do now. But you can’t force women to be pregnant. And taking away money from an organization that does so much good is irresponsible. If you wanna wear your feminist badge, its gotta be about the needs of all women, not just those of us with a voice.