I want to write a series on Why Feminism Matters. This is obviously going to be a long and multi-part series because there are so many facets to this conversation but I have been needing to voice my stance and perspective on this for so long that I decided to just go for it and add content here on my own site as it comes up. Eventually I will look to publishing on more relevant sites but for the moment…this will do.
Because I am me (background in many things but specifically my professional platform currently being spiritual-woo/self-work and self development) I will be approaching this topic from a Spiritual and Self-development kind of perspective. Also, I have to say that self-work and society-work are very similar. The culture in which we live has a variety of large-scale identities to which the principals of self-development would apply nicely if only we were able to change in that way.
One thing that astonishes me is that Feminism still feels like a dirty word to some people. Many women feel like they have to quantify it, “Oh, I’m not a feminist I just care about equal pay for equal work.” or, “Oh, no, I’m not a feminist…I just wish that men would stop hitting on me without my express permission.”
Do you not realize that the very fact that we have to feel bad about being a feminist in our society proves that there is a Very Big Problem? The very fact that “feminist” is something that people feel ashamed to own shows you that The Patriarchal Society in which we live is DOMINATING us. If women were equal do you think it would feel uncomfortable to claim that you were wanting equality? If women were equal wouldn’t it just be a given that women and men should be the same? If women were equal wouldn’t it be okay for a man to display “feminine” characteristics? If women were equal wouldn’t feminism be part of our everyday dialogue? If women were equal would I even need to be asking these questions? Do you see how the very nature of the shame around the word proves that there is a lot at stake and a big, huge, pervasive cultural problem here?
I have a theory and my theory is this: Anything that the Patriarchal American Culture wants us not to do is something we should embrace with gusto.
Let’s approach it with some logic:
- The Patriarchal Culture is Capitalist and therefore dependent upon the marginalization of specific groups of people in order for the balance of power to be maintained: wealthy white men on top, everyone else below in a disgusting order of descending “importance” according to these Wealthy White Men. The bottom of which being the most terribly marginalized group: women of color.
- This marginalization is sold to us through advertisements, media, magazines, TV shows and news reports. We are buying products that are subliminally and overtly telling us that only certain kinds of people are worthy and that only certain types of bodies, complexions, standards of wealth, lifestyles and careers are worth having. Slim, white, rich, lazy, famous people are put on pillars in our culture. Anything else is a deviation that must be commented on. Consider this: do you ever see overweight characters in TV or movies without their weight being commented on? Do you often see black characters without their race being a part of the plot-line in some kind of self-aggrandizing way to the writers? How often do White Men mentor, solve, fix or save everyone else or entire groups of everyone else in media? How many size 00 women are dressing up as the Desirable Sex Object without there being any other character trait to her beyond her slimness and her sexual appetite?
- The Patriarchal Culture encourages rigged competition and these outdated and oppressive models such as “pull yourself up by your boot straps” (a sexist sentence to begin with by the way because at its inception women weren’t allowed to wear workboots) and “teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. Yeah, except when we are teaching men to fish and then intentionally sending them to the parts of the river that have been over-fished and are decimated or are full of pollution and disease (and then criticizing them for not working hard enough to get the same amount of fish that the White Man gets when he is standing at the most abundant place, holding a net while fish eggs hatch directly into it (and then turning it around and selling them to everyone beneath him who hasn’t been able to have the “good fortune” of getting those same fish that he did. If only everyone else had worked harder!)
- Marriage equality? No. Because if suddenly the culture on the whole begins to realize that marriage does not mean that a Man is the Head of the Household (read: ruler over the woman and children) then this could potentially be extrapolated for people to realize that perhaps Men are not the only ones who can be Head of the State. Hmmm….interesting.
- Religious freedom? No. Because if suddenly we stop questioning that God is a He and Jesus is a He and the whole world of Spirituality is dependent on glowing ghost penises ruling the Afterlife then the whole infrastructure might go to shit. Sure, does this nation pretend it is open to various religions? Yep. And then what happens when a company takes the snowflakes off of its red cups during the holiday season? Mass boycotting. Why? Because we are brainwashed into believing that there is freedom of religion – unless you are Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Wiccan, Hindu or any of the other religions that don’t celebrate a whitewashed syrian man hanging from a prehistoric torture device. Yea, I said that.
Look, the fact is, if The Patriarchy is against it that means that we should probably be For it. If The Patriarchy feels that it is Immoral or a Threat to Good Values that means that it is absolutely something we should be doing and doing hard.
We have been tricked into believing that there is One Certain Way that we are Supposed to Live if we want to have The Best Life Possible and I am here to tell you that that one certain way is full of lies and misinformation. It is a carefully constructed house of cards designed to keep money in the pockets of white men and for the rest of us to do all the labor and for them to reap all the rewards. The system is benefiting the people it benefits the most. Hint: those are the people on top with all the power. What is the demographic of those people? White Guys!! This isn’t hard, it’s all there right in front of our faces.
So next time someone says, “yes, I’m a feminist” throw your arms in the air and yell “Hallelujah thank god you are here!” and start having some interesting conversations with that person because together you and he or she (YES MEN CAN BE FEMINISTS TOO!) can start changing the world simply by talking about this stuff around your friends, by normalizing these ideas and by stripping away the dirty shame associated with the word feminism.
Let’s claim it together, guys! Let’s make this world an actually equal place. Why is this taking so long? We really can do this in our own lifetimes, all we have to do is begin now.
Thanks for reading. More to come.