totally not true – i am angry. angry + frustrated that most people are so deluded on the lack of equality between the sexes that still exists.
but i’m not angry at men. being a STRIDENT FEMINIST doesn’t mean i hate men, or am angry with them, or angry with women who wear heels, make-up + really, just really, want to own a berkin bag. because i’m one of those women too.
i recently finished reading How To Be A Woman by caitlin moran – she is a STRIDENT FEMINIST, + her book is a call-to-arms for other women (+ men) to openly embrace referring to themselves as STRIDENT FEMINISTS. as i began reading it, i thought ‘finally! a voice i can identify with!’ with a few addendums + notes of clarification required. first of all, i am not a well-read connoisseur of feminist literature. this is the first (obvious, at least) feminist book that i’ve read. i have zero education in the realm of feminism, other than just being a female who still sees remarkable inequalities between the sexes. i don’t agree with every statement she makes – i’ll get to that in a bit – but her voice + message are desperately needed + easy to identify with.
she has put me at ease with calling myself a STRIDENT FEMINIST, as she makes a point to disassociate it with angry man hating.
this is basically how she spells it out:
if you have a vagina, you’re a feminist.
if you believe men + women should be equal, you’re a feminist.
if you’re being treated in a manner that is impolite + uncivil, it’s sexism.
if you’re being treated or talked to in a way that a man would never be, it’s sexism.
here are highlights from the book that most struck a chord.
we have to remember that snidely saying “her hair’s a bit limp on top” isn’t what’s keeping womankind from closing the 30% pay gap and a place on the board of directors. i think that’s more likely to be down to tens of thousands of years of ingrained social, political, and economic misogyny and the patriarchy…
i have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge…whether some sexist bullshit is afoot…and it’s asking this question: “are the men doing it? are the men worrying about this as well? is this taking up the men’s time? are the men told not to do this, as it’s ‘letting our side down’? are the men having to write bloody books about this exasperating, retarded, time-wasting bullshit? is this making jon stewart feel insecure?” almost always, the answer is: “no…”
what is feminism? simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy, and smug they might be.
these days, a plethora of shitty attitudes to women have become diffuse, indistinct, or almost entirely concealed. fighting them feels like trying to combat a moldy mildew smell in the hallway, using only a breadknife. because – like racism, anti-semitism and homophobia – modern sexism has become cunning. sly. codified. in the same way a closet racist would never dream of openly saying the n-word, but might make a pointed reference to someone black having natural rhythm or liking fried chicken, so a closet misogynist has a vast array of words, comments, phrases, and attitudes that he can employ to subtly put a woman down or disconcert her, but without it being immediately apparent that that is what he is actually doing.
ex. whenever a woman has a strong opinion or a differing opinion, becomes pissed off about something, and it being written off as occurring because she’s pmsing. or if a man exhibits some sort of emotional response to something, being asked when he grew a vagina, to stop pmsing, or to stop acting like a girl. making the correlation between strong feelings, emotions or opinions + irrationality + weakness. caitlin moran has this phrased in a much more pointed + entertaining way in her book…
how can you tell when some sexism is happening to you?…what ultimately aids us is to simply apply this question to the issue: is this polite? if we – the entire population of the earth, male + female alike – are just, essentially, “the guys”, then was one of the guys just uncouth to a fellow guy? don’t call it sexism. call it ‘manners’ instead…after all, you can argue about what modern, codified misogyny is; but straight-up ungentlemanliness, of the kind his mother would clatter the back of his head for, is inarguable. it doesn’t need to be a ‘man vs. woman’ thing… i’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘anti-men’. i’m just ‘thumbs up for the six billion’.
men are accustomed to us being runners-up or being disqualified entirely. for men born prefeminism, this is what they were raised on: second-class citizen mothers; sisters who needed to be married off; female schoolmates going to secretarial school, then becoming housewives. women who disengaged. disappeared. these men are the CEOs of our big companies, the big guys on the stock markets, the advisors to governments. they dictate working hours and maternity leave, economic priorities and societal mores. and, of course, they don’t feel equality in their bones – sexism runs deep in their generation…their automatic reaction is to regard women as ‘other’. the entrenched bias against the working, liberated female will only die out when they do.
i would say that women have also been raised on centuries of being second class citizens…it’s equally as difficult for us to see and believe in equality as it would be for all the men raised on the same ideals.
all manner of female incredibleness – pent up for centuries – should have been unleashed; flattening trees for thousands of miles around, like a pyroclastic blast. but they didn’t. because simply being able to vote isn’t the same as true equality. it’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. virtually invisible. what we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.
pg. 164: on stripclubs
but what are strip clubs and lap-dancing clubs if not ‘light entertainment’ versions of the entire history of misogyny? any argument in their favour is fallacious…for myself, i can’t believe that girls saying, ‘actually, i’m paying my university fees by stripping’ is seen as some kind of righteous, empowered, end-of-argument statement on the ultimate morality of these places. if women are having to strip to get an education – in a way that male teenage students are really notable not – then that’s a gigantic political issue, not a reason to keep strip clubs open.
no man who ever cared for or wanted to impress a woman made her stand in front of him and take her knickers off to earn her cab fare home. you spend this money on nothing at all – addiction to porn and strip clubs is the third biggest cause of debt in men. between 60 and 80 percent of strippers come from a background of sexual abuse. this place is a mess, a horrible mess. every dance, every private booth is…the bastard child of misogyny and commerce.
in 2010, iceland…became the first country in the world to outlaw strip clubs for feminist, rather than religious reasons. ‘i guess the men of iceland will have to get used to the idea that women are not for sale,’ gudrun jonsdottir, who campaigned for the law change, said.
amen. i’m not ok with strip clubs. some of my friends are + i’m not entirely sure why. perhaps they are objectifying the strippers as objects just as their male partners are. before we got together, M did attend a strip club every once + again. this is how i explained my thoughts on it – if he could look his daughter in the eye + tell her that he was ok if she wanted to grow up + strip in front of other men – like his friends – for money…then it was ok for him to go. if he wasn’t ok with his daughter becoming a stripper, then it’s not ok for him to go. respect other women as if they are your daughter or sister. especially as many of the women who do end up stripping haven’t been respected by their fathers or brothers – or mothers or sisters, really.
pg.272 on pregnancy
my husband is red-eyed but solid, just as he was through two births and a miscarriage. he made his definitive statement on all this years ago: ‘it seems wildly unfair that, for us to reproduce, you have to go through all this…shit.’
the process of becoming a mother is the one area where i would say ‘men, get down on your knees + kiss the ground we walk upon’. it is hard. it is miraculous. yes, we couldn’t do it without you (technically speaking), but in order for people to reproduce, women are the ones whose bodies go through hell.
because it’s not as if strident feminists want to take over from men. we’re not arguing for the whole world. just our share…i don’t want men to go away. i don’t want men to stop what they’re doing. what i want, instead, are some radical market forces. i want CHOICE. i want VARIETY. i want MORE. i want WOMEN. i want women to have more of the world, not just because it would be fairer, but because if would be better. more exciting. reordered. reinvented. we should have the lady-balls to say, ‘yeah – i like the look of this world. and i’ve been here for a good while watching. now – here’s how i’d tweak it. because we’re all in this together. we’re all just, you know. the guys.
here’s my beef with her INCREDIBLE TRIBUTE TO STRIDENT FEMINISM. i’m not one of the guys. i don’t want to be treated like one of the guys. because the guys make really immature jokes in the locker room. the guys have pissing matches to see who’s the most guy-iest guy of them all. + i don’t want to have to be one of ‘the guys’ to feel equal. i want to be able to make a really bawdy joke. but also to cry over lord of the rings for the umpteenth time, + if i’m going to be ridiculed it’s because i’m watching lord of the rings for the umpteenth time, not because i’m letting my emotions ‘get away from me’. i know that what she’s saying is that we’re all human, we’re all on the same team, the same side…why should there be sides?…by saying ‘we’re all one of the guys’, she’s putting it into words that are non-combative…but sometimes the guys’ behaviour, based on centuries of being the ‘winners’, has bred some really boorish + distasteful traits…so in the same way that guys are gross in the locker room + i don’t want to be a part of that, women can be catty when we go to the washroom to apply a coat of lip gloss + i don’t want to be a part of that either. because those behaviours are based on the ‘otherness’ of each sex that has developed, + to be polite, civil + respectful of all beings does mean that those types of stereotyped, ingrained behaviours need to be analysed as well.
and this is my beef with the idea of lady-balls:
why do people say “grow some balls”? balls are weak and sensitive. if you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. those things can take a pounding.
thank you betty white. amen.
this is a great book – there’s so much more to her story than what i’ve quoted here. caitlin moran is funny, intelligent, thought-provoking + so easy to identify with. she weaves stories from her own life with frank discussion on love, porn, whether to choose motherhood, menstruation + masturbation, which is sooooo needed. sometimes it really pisses me off that people farting around the house (uh, my husband) is more acceptable than any sort of discussion or statement about my period. the dude has a daughter, already. at some point, we’ll try + have some babies of our own. +, i can tell you, between farting or a woman’s period, there’s only one of those that is actually part of the reproductive cycle. it’s completely natural. yet, somehow expelling noxious gaseous fumes is more acceptable.
i read a review on this book by a columnist for the globe and mail. most disturbing to me were the comments that followed. some were from guys who, of course, started listing off ways that women need to be women…i think they do this, mostly, to get a rise out of women. generally, it works. but many of the women (having just read the article) commented on moran’s lack of education, + comments about women needing a good pair of heels + pie recipe (these were OBVIOUSLY tongue-in-cheek, had you read her book). this isn’t by any means the extent of what it means to be female. but her point, as she repeatedly states in her book, is that it’s not a bad, anti-feminist thing, to enjoy a nice pair of heels…as long as you’re doing it because you enjoy the craftsmanship of the shoe, the way it looks on yourself – not because you feel you need to fit into some social construct of what it means to be feminine. embracing your own femininity isn’t being anti-feminist. but we need to develop what it means to be feminine for ourselves.
here is an audio clip of Caitlin Moran on Q, which is a program on cbc radio.
how to be a woman from chapters.
how to be a woman from amazon.
omg, i just found she has a website….here.
anyways…all this to say. don’t be afraid to call yourself a STRIDENT FEMINIST. it doesn’t mean you’re angry. it doesn’t mean you hate men. it just means you love + respect all your lady bits (or your wife’s/partner’s/sister’s?mother’s?…) + believe that, yes! men + women should be equal.