Friday, April 17, 2009

Am Me Feminist? (Also: Coda)

"I have always been into gender equality (not feminism, which is really one-sided)"

Jesus Christ, sometimes I really hate my culture. I mean, it's not even that poor idiot's fault; it took me a long damn time to outgrow that line of bullshit too. This is not just what we let people think, y'know. This is what we teach people with every afterschool special and every portrayal of a "feminist" in anything ever and every time we let Rush Limbaugh talk and every movie like the DtDVD Wonder Woman and every civics and history class that breezes past the Women's Rights Movement like it were the War of 1812 or something.

Seriously, it's like trying to win a knife fight with nothing but a bar of soap.

Such is the lament, in toto, that Bluefall expresses. And I have to say, my very first thought on reading it was: I like how it's "we let" Rush Limbaugh speak as if anyone could shut the guy up.

I'm also struck by the final simile, comparing what I assume is intarwub debate with deadly battle. Did no one know this battle was coming? Was it an ambush? Why did one side not secure a knife of their own?

But in the comments section of all that was a link to JaneGray's reposting of an essay from Tomato Nation: Yes, You Are.

Are what? A feminist, it seems, if you "believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes". The rest of the essay belabors this point: regardless of any other factors, if you truly believe in this notion, then you are a feminist.

So then, I guess I am a feminist. I've said before that I believe in at least as much as that statement describes (though I confess to doing more hoping for than working towards). And yet, like the aforementioned "idiot", I don't identify myself as a feminist. Which makes me, what, the Bizarro feminist or something?

In any case, the original essay makes a good point about defining one's self as a feminist, by cutting out all the dogma and assigning a clear, objective definition to the word. Were it truly that simple, I'd really have no problems going around, saying, "yep, feminist, that's me".

But Bluefall and the others in the comments section of her post discuss the media perception of feminism and place most of the blame on the usual suspects, such as Rush Limbaugh and the Reagan Era.

I'm sure Rush willingly contributes to any misunderstandings wherever he can, but the thing is, the reason I (and others, it seems) don't care to carry the feminist label is not because of Rush or some patriarchal conspiracy/propaganda, no. As liberal-leaning as I am, I'm not likely to let some right-wing talk show gasbag implant "feminazi" in my head.

It's feminists themselves that make me not want to be labeled a feminist; it's feminists who, it is my impression, largely reject me as being a feminist.

From JaneGray's comments section:

Feminism is an extremely important movement that has fought long and hard so that we women could be considered actual human beings with actual rights. So it makes me sick to think that the term is being rejected by modern women just because a few man-hating nutjobs have dirtied it.

Now, maybe I've had bad luck. Maybe it's been my fate to encounter the writings (and sometimes responses here in my own blog) of mostly the real wingnuts of fangirl feminism, and that if feminism as a whole were measured, the resultant "average feminist" would seem like a far more reasonable creature.

On the other hand, the fact that there are "feminist study" courses would suggest that, for a lot of people, "feminism" means far more than the dictionary definition, otherwise, there'd only be one class, right? Open the dictionary, read it, and "that's it, see you next semester!"

But no, you can learn all kinds of other things, such as the partiarchy, privilege, the male gaze, and probably a quart of even more esoteric terms, terms for which if you profess ignorance or disbelief you are likely to get regaled with "it's not my job to teach you Feminism 101", implying that yes, there's more to feminism than just seeking equality.

Hell, Bluefall and company take the recent Wonder Woman DVD-movie to task for promoting the wrong kind of feminist message. Apparently their standards for equality don't match up to the movie's standards. Do they accept the movie as being a feminist work, despite its flaws?

I have criticized many things written or said by self-professed feminists; I do not accept many things they take as givens, and feel many stances claimed by feminists are in opposition to other important issues. Whose determination takes precedence: mine, if I say I am a feminist, or the feminist who criticizes me, telling me I am not?

Mad Thinker Scott has often identified himself as a feminist, and has just as often been called anything but feminist by feminists. I prefer to avoid that sort of argument entirely...


[[FOOTNOTE]: Not really apropos of the point I wanted to make, but there's a line in the original "Yes, You Are" essay that bugs me: "You don't have to write a twenty-page paper on Valerie Solanas's use of satire in The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, and if you do write it, you don't have to get better than a C-plus on it." It bugs me in that I have a hard time seeing Solanas' manifesto as being satire, considering this is the same woman who 1) shot Andy Warhol; 2) stalked him by phone after getting out of jail for shooting him; 3) drifted in and out of mental hospitals until she died. It's satire only if you take Rush Limbaugh's various "Feminazi" comments to also be satire, and just as I believe Rush to be in earnest when he says it even as he brushes it off with one of his "oh ho ho, I'm just laughing at things, I'm just having fun", so too I get the sense that Solanas was "joking" in the same forced-smile manner. Not that I really know what either Limbaugh or Solanas is/was thinking; nor do I know if satire is really how the original author of the essay viewed Solanas' manifesto. Just wanted to mention.]


This blog hasn't had much traffic (or more precise, a lot of comments and reaction, I really don't know how many folks are just lurking and reading this) since When Fangirls Attack had its recent long downtimes; that's just as well, because I haven't had much to say. A lot of things I started to say (but deleted) were retreads of mostly the same old opinions I've been saying since I started this blog.

This blog has never been my primary activity (or even my only blog); it's been kept separate and anonymous to allow me to express unpopular opinions to an audience I think is, in some instances, capable and willing to persecute those who disagree. So if I'm feeling like I'm repeating the same things over and over, it may be time to hang this up for a while. Anyone chancing upon this blog for the first time is welcome to browse the archives; quite possibly you'll find a post that has relevance to some new issue regarding comics and feminism (and a couple other matters besides). The characters and comics involved may change, but the issues will probably be the same for some time to come, and I'm going to be too busy to keep on repeating myself.

I could be wrong; some new blogstorm may strike and prompt an entirely different train of thought, in which case I may decide to weigh in once again; barring that, however, I foresee this blog becoming very inactive in the future.

(Now watch someone link this and I get a bazillion hits).

Until we meet again.


Andre said...

I am sad to see you stop but I will keep checking the blog now and then in case the fancy hits you to say something.
I assume its cool to quote your blog from time to time?

Anon, A Mouse said...

Sure, quote away, I don't mind.

Earl Allison said...

Anon, all the best to you. I hope you continue to post, and I am sorry I did not post more in comments (then again, "me too" doesn't seem too helpful for a comment)

Take care, be well, and thanks for the posts.

James Meeley said...

So if I'm feeling like I'm repeating the same things over and over, it may be time to hang this up for a while.Well, when dealing with people who stick to a rigidly dogamtic ideal, and whom often rely on very circular logic in much of what they say, it should be no surprise that you end up saying the same thing over-and-over again.

Still, I understand your feelings. I've felt the same. I will miss your insights and perspective on things, as I've learned more about feminism from folks like Mad Thinker Scott and you, over all the "so-called" feminists we've dealt with over the years.

I hope that your break will be short, because I'm sure those who are thw anti-thesis to what you do are not going to take one. Thanks, though, for all your efforts and insights. Catch you later! :)

Anonymous said...

Wanting people to be treated right makes you a good person, saying it makes you a feminist is just politics.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I need you back!