Friends, being a feminist can be not very fun sometimes. We have to fight all of the time against the very foundation of our society. We have to rail against misogyny at work, on television, in our judicial system, on the street, on the internet, in our own homes. We spend huge chunks of time outraged. We debate feminist theory in our down time, what wave of feminism is happening now, can men be feminist, is feminism as inclusive as it should be, who do we hate today? It’s friggin exhausting. There has to be a reward for all of this work, right?
So, here, now, I’m going to share a list of things that make me happy as a feminist. Because some times I want to be excited about life and not constantly looking for the next battle. If we’re too concerned with finding the next outrage, we become the stereotype – the humorless feminist killjoy. And I am too damn delighted with being alive to allow that to happen. So, the awesomeness of feminism, in no particular order:
1. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Wendy Davis – we’ve got some amazing women in politics right now. You may not agree with them 100%, I don’t and I’m a crazy lefty, but these women are continually kicking ass. Have you seen Elizabeth Warren give these financial a-holes whatfor? It’s a thing of beauty. Or Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill dressing down military generals over sexual assault? I may have cheered a time or two. HRC rocked it as Secretary of State, and in the Benghazi hearings, when she basically said “Fuck you” to senators more concerned with spin than facts, made me love her even more. Wendy Davis’ filibuster was more inspiring than Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
I was recently introduced to the list 101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women. This was prompted by my announcement to my younger sister (who is a very intelligent, feminist woman) that I had written a guest post for a “feminist blog”. I was quickly informed that my views were not original or special in any way. This is a perfect demonstration of why many progressive men are not as outspoken about their feminist views as they could be. On the one hand, if we mention our views we are ridiculed for being “whipped” or subservient to women. On the other hand we are marginalized by feminists for “stating the obvious” and for not being feminist enough. To be clear, we are not asking for recognition, however we are asking for affirmation that we are doing the right things. Instead a of reaction “thanks for noticing, now if you could get the rest of you male assholes on board”, maybe it would be more productive to have a reaction of “That’s great! Now, how about thinking about this issue/idea that you may not have thought about before?” It’s amazing to me that feminist women wonder why more men are not allying with women on this issue. What do you expect when we offer support and we are met with negativity and criticism for just being a man?
Today’s guest post comes from Rick – it’s long and completely worth it! These guys are awesome!
I read this blog the other day, written by my friend Maureen, and it made me think of another female friend of mine. She had recently received an e-mail from someone she barely knew.
It was a solicitation for sex.
In it, the sender figures that because my friend is interested in yoga, she must know that “the only yoga that’s not ‘bullshit’ is tantra”…which he is really “good at”, by the way…if only he could find a steady “partner” (because tantric sex is apparently a sport like racquetball). He goes on to illuminate her about why sex is so important to him in his situation at that moment and how, since he recently acquired a new phone, and a bit of money, some sex might just be the final piece of the puzzle that is his fulfilled life. So she should call him…
This was an actual letter. Someone actually sent this.
Today’s guest post is from our first male contributor, Jared! We’re excited to have a Dude With a View share his thoughts and bring a little gender equality to the Damn Pants crew.
For many American men the mention of the word “feminist” brings a feeling of discomfort and often anger. They conjure images of militant “Femi-Nazis” marching in the streets and spreading their hate-filled message of misandry. Or they think of that “uppity bitch” they know who claims that all the world’s problems are because of men. This does not have to be the norm. In fact, it shouldn’t be the norm. Feminism is not a sex specific value system; it is collaboration between the sexes. So to answer your question… Yes, men can be feminists.
That being said there are many barriers to a more integrated view of feminism. For one, there is a very misinformed view of feminism among both men and women but specifically men. Feminism is NOT the promotion of women as being superior to men. Nor does it constitute the devaluing of traditional male gender roles. It is the belief that men and women are equal in a political, social and economic sense. Feminist blogger Sarah Zacharias puts it eloquently: “In spite of what some might tell you, feminists don’t desire to disparage men. We desire to stand with them equally… This means that instead of being bound to men by fear and force, we are bound by love and devotion.” To start to deconstruct the typical male view of feminism we must change our expectations of it. Our goal should be to teach our sons that “feminism” is not a dirty word and that feminists are not “out to get you”. Feminism, from a male perspective must be derived from personal integrity. Although men and women may be different in many aspects, how our brains work, how we interact in an interpersonal sense, etc. we are equal. Different does not mean unequal. Men and women have a wide variety of skills and talents, many that overlap, some that do not. We should acknowledge our differences and celebrate them not disparage each other because of them.
I love our blog. I love our writers and readers and the amazing conversations that can be sparked from a single post. I’m sharing two great ones today, because I can’t stand to write about Weiner’s wiener or Castro’s crazy or anti-abortion nut jobs or anything else that’s happening because it makes me want to cry. So, instead, some back and forth within the community about feminism and it’s many forms and functions. It gives me hope when I remember that for all the assholes out there, we have as many amazing people who believe in equality and rights for all. I think that’s something we all need to remember when the news gets us down.
This is an abridged version of an email conversation I had with Delaney. [This has been changed from the original conversation posted – if you were confused for a minute, you’re not insane!] This is actually a pretty typical exchange for us. Sometimes feminists don’t agree on things!
D: I think he’s been reading my Feminism books when I’m not looking. I told him about Jared’s post, and he writes “How the hell can one be a ‘male feminist’ anyway?” And I’m like, “Uh, well, I guess some men can call themselves that if they are dedicated to eradicating women’s oppression…” So then he comes back and says “Hmm. I feel like the word ‘feminist’ belongs to you guys.” Anyway, we text back and forth for a bit and I kind of expect him to…I don’t know what. What I did NOT expect was this: “We’re the reason sexism and racism exist in the first place. We’ve already taken enough. We don’t get to use cool terms or join cool clubs. We just get to “not an asshole” by NOT continuing to perpetuate this.” AND THEN “Like, the whole fucking reason that any pro-gender or pro-race group or term exists is because WHITE MEN have spent hundreds of years making LITERALLY everyone else feel “less than” and, so, terms like “feminist” come to be and how fucked up is it for us to use that term to DESCRIBE ONE OF US?! Sorry, bro, but again you get to be “Not an Asshole White Guy.” We’ve spent centuries giving ourselves special names and clubs. You don’t get to have theirs.” But yeah. He tapped into what he says is his “inner Louis CK.”
Today’s Feminist Friday comes from Caroline, the woman some of us know. She’s a real spitfire and all around awesome person. Enjoy!
As a graduate with a B.S. in English, words are really important to me. More than a form of communication, their nuances and intonations weave more than our accents or speech patterns; they tell a story of how we feel about ourselves and about those whom we’re relating to. In a world where the English language is becoming butchered, abbreviated and wholly bastardized on an alarming basis (Thanks YOLO!), I find though we may not be able to control the world of words around us, but we can certainly keep in check the way that we speak to or about the people we surround ourselves with.
This brings me to my biggest pet peeve and total turn off when meeting new lady-friends: Referring to each other as “bitches” (or any other derogatory term). Just typing the word spikes my blood pressure and hearing it out of someone’s mouth whom I respect, or am just meeting for the first time, is a total turn off, three strikes and you’re out offense. My only way to understand the flippant use of this totally disrespectful word when referring to someone who’s your friend, your sister, or just another lady like you trying to do her best, is that those who rely on vocabulary like this don’t hold themselves in high esteem.
I’m glad to announce this will be Callie’s final guest post for us because she’s not gonna be a guest anymore! She’s joining the Damn Pants crew – we’re showing her the secret handshake and everything.
So, have you heard of this thing called ‘a feminist killjoy’? I have been hearing it a lot lately. Hell, I have even being saying it. “That’s right babe, I’m being a feminist killjoy.”
What? What is that?
In case you, like me up until a couple weeks ago, have not heard of this phrase, a feminist killjoy is someone who will notice and call attention to instances of sexism, racism, privilege, what-have-you, in a given conversation, particularly when everyone else is having a grand old time. I picture some girl with thick glasses, crazy hair and bright red lipstick repeating “killjoy, killjoy, killjoy,” over and over again while smoking a cigarette. I know, it makes no sense; Just like the phrase, ‘feminist killjoy.’
I have kind of a problem with this phrase, though, because killjoy implies that … it’s kinda wrong to point out instances of sexism, racism, homophobia … etc… It makes it seem like being worried about those things makes you kind of an uptight arse. It makes it seem like we are inadvertently supporting the idea that there are times when that kind of stuff is ok, you know?
I have a lot of feelings about a lot of feminist issues, but I’m not sure any of them rustle my jimmies more than that of the abortion issue. This post might alienate some of you, or maybe some of you will agree. Maybe, MAYBE, some of you will change your mind. Probably not, but who knows? I’ll give it a go anyway. Continue reading
Wow, it’s been a really awful week in woman news, right? Obviously there’s the case in Cleveland that has just been the worst. On top of that, the Pentagon study on sexual assault in the military seems to have finally brought some attention to an issue that’s been widely discussed in feminist circles. These two stories have dominated the news cycle; cable news has particularly been obsessed with Cleveland. Charles Ramsey has been lauded as a hero, rightly so, and Castro is becoming the embodiment of evil, which seems pretty accurate to me. Hearing and reading about Cleveland and the Pentagon nearly non-stop all week highlights some of the major problems in our country when it comes to domestic and sexual violence against women – it’s pervasive to the point of commonness and we only care when it’s particularly gruesome.
When the Cleveland story broke, after the initial “Ho. Ly. Crap.” reaction, I felt an air of familiarity. The kidnapped, kept in captivity, sex slave/torture victim is a pretty common story line. I know I’ve read books by authors such as James Patterson and John Sanford, I’ve seen it on shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU. We’ve seen it in real life as well – Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard; the more you think about it, the more you realize it’s everywhere. I’m not pointing this out to reduce the experiences of the women in Cleveland. I am saying these types of things happen, get sensationalized by the news media, get retold by our entertainment media over and over until it is a part of our culture. Abduction, rape and torture – our fascination teeters on, and often falls over, the line of decency.
Being a feminist can be exhausting. Every news story, every new show or movie, every walk down the street is fraught with misogyny and anger. There was a time when I didn’t really pay attention to things. I identified as feminist but was not actively engaged. I could get by with an eye roll and my name on an online petition, then back to whatever young, carefree thoughts I had at that time.
As I’ve gotten older, the shit the world throws at us has become worse, or more constant, or maybe I just have less energy to ignore it. Whatever the reason, I can get tired of awareness. Yelling at the television and ranting about the patriarchy is a full-time occupation and I already have too much to do. So, I’ll purposefully not think about all of the things currently pissing me off. I have little escapes and watch decidedly anti-feminist tv. I’m referring specifically to Tosh.0 on Comedy Central, my guilty pleasure.