Saturday, August 15, 2015

Let's Talk About Feminism - And How Not to Fuck it Up.

Listening to: Irreplaceable by Beyonce
Mood: Stable and Positive

I was going to label this as a manifesto, but then again, no one really takes angry rants seriously. Time to get out the big kid underpants readers and tackle something heavy. We're going to act like adults and discuss it rationally. If you're not old enough to be reading about sex, for god's sake, what are you doing wandering around on the internet? Go outside and play.

So. Feminism, rape, gender roles, oppression and sex by proxy have been blowing up on the news as of late due to the very unfortunate Elliot Rogers incident. As I've no doubt mentioned many, many times, I live in India. Feminism as the western world understands it, does not exist here. There are a few small movements, but the overall culture here is far more repressive and violent than most westerners can imagine, none the less understand. So feminism has been on my mind for a while before this tragic event even hit the news. Historically, younger women (especially my generation) have struggled to define what feminism is, because it obviously doesn't have the same face as our grandmothers' feminism did fighting to vote. Let me quantify exactly what feminism means to me after long, and intensive contemplation.

Feminism is not:

1. Mysandry. This is hating on men. Men are not inherently evil (or any more evil than people are in general, which is another story). Many times, they are just as much victims (or unconscious participants) of cultural conditioning as women are. Aiming anger at men is not going to change anything and is counterproductive. A change of thought is required in both of the sexes.

2. Victimhood. I have heard far too much whining that we're being oppressed. While this may be true in some circumstances, I'm talking about the kind of whining that people do about useless stuff that they have no intention of trying to change.

3. Entitlement. I will qualify this as anything besides entitlement to equality/basic respect ideas. You are not entitled to a job just because you are a women. Nor are you entitled to expect a man to buy you dinner. Or a seat on the subway. Chivalry as it existed in storybooks is dead ladies and gentlemen. No one is entitled to anything from the opposite sex besides common decency.

Feminism is:

1. Equality.  In our attempt to make sense of the world by segregating by physical differences, we have forgotten that we're all humans. Perhaps at some point in the past, it made sense to see women as weak, or property, or whatever shit made sense at that point in time. However, just as science, math, philosophy, geography and economic theory have changed with time and enlightenment, so must our view on the sexes. We are definitely not the same, but we are all equals.

2. Not acting like an entitled asshole. This applies to everyone. If an old lady is struggling with bags and you're a girl - open the damn door for that lady. If you're a young lady and an old man gets on the subway, remove your behind and let him sit if he's so inclined. If you're a man, and an older guy needs some help carrying something - help out. The help/courtesy may well be declined, but it is still your responsibility to try. Girl, boy, whatever you identify as. Really, this doesn't need much explanation, but people do seem to forget this simple principle. It doesn't matter who you are - don't be a jerk.

3. Challenging the current environment of fear. This one is more difficult than the previous two. Cultural attitudes are sometimes almost impossible to change over the long term, not to even mention the short term. One of the biggest disservices that society has done to women is to make them fearful. In most cases, this fear springs from physical differences between the sexes. Men over all are larger and stronger than women. They are also equipped with body parts that can rape a woman if they are so inclined. This fear is not without a bit of justification, but has flown WAY out of proportion. Making women afraid of their own sexuality, normal interactions with men, and making women afraid of rape has made women move into a victim-hood mentality. This benefits no one. To be sure, rape is a horrible thing, which I wish on no one. The US has a horrible fascination with rape that leads to dramatic television series and dire warnings to women to be fearful. Again, this benefits no one. Girls/women should be aware of their surroundings, just as anyone should. Crime is not limited to rape - it affects both sexes. Being aware of your environment and being in control of yourself and your surroundings is just good, solid common sense.

4. Challenging Cultural Expectations of both sexes. This I feel is the hardest issue of all. As I mentioned above, changing these things takes an extremely long time and is very difficult. It also takes awareness on the part of individuals. All the time. I like to think of myself as an enlightened person, who thinks about issues. I still find myself carelessly applying labels like bitch and dickhead in my head when I get mad. It's a fight to not vilify or dismiss sexuality or body parts. How the fuck did we even get here??? Body parts are just that. We have 2 different sets for two different purposes. Labeling something as such doesn't refer to that, it refers to your inability to correctly insult something that bothers you. This is way too big of a point to actually be a  point. We'll conquer this a different way.

Look kids, sex, feminism, and and not being a dick apply to us all. Ladies, our feminism isn't the same as our Grandmothers'. That doesn't mean it's not important nor valid. It is. To a even greater degree. We've gained a bit of ground, let's use that to gain equality, not mess it up on stupid shit.

Women, there is no wrong version of feminism besides the one that vilifies men.  If you want to be a submissive housewife by your own choice, that's no less being a feminist than one who doesn't want a man at all.

The key word here is choice. Every woman has the choice to live her life as she sees fit, without involuntary submission or apologies to anyone. Every single woman has the right to chose her path, sexual or otherwise without the need to explain anything to anyone at all.

Ladies, support each other - suppression is the cheap version of competition. A quality woman doesn't need to put another woman down in order to succeed.

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