Posted by : Wendy B Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Feminism totally is too.
The word "feminism" is being thrown around a lot. Last year, several celebrities "came out" and stood up to be counted among those who would call themselves feminists. Twenty years ago. Hell. Ten years ago, I would not count myself among them. When I was younger, I thought feminists were the crazy women who burned their bras for some reason I couldn't bother to learn about. When I was a little older, I thought they were akin to the women who frequented the parenting boards on Livejournal, venomously swarming new moms who dared to admit that they didn't want to breastfeed.

In other words, I really had no clue what feminism was really about. I just took for granted that I could vote, have babies or not have babies, own property, work, etc. Ah the ignorance of youth.

Now I'm a little older, wiser. I have daughters. I have friends with daughters. I also have friends with sons. Friends who are men. Family who are boys and men. And I've come to the shocking realization that I'm a woman and a human being living in a society that has changed and continues to change and still has a ways to go when it comes to gender equality. So yes, I will call myself a feminist. Not because I want to see men brought down in order to raise women up, but because we live in a patriarchal society that needs to do a whole lot of reflecting on how it has oppressed not only women, but men as well. Because yes men have struggles in our society too. And I will stand up and help raise awareness about those issues, because to me, they stem from the same place: the gender roles that have been ingrained into our society.

There's the suggestion, that, because of the stigmas that have been attached to the word "feminism," that people should move away from it. That I should use something less divisive, like "humanist." Semantics, really. Feminism has always been about equality, like I said, through raising women up, not -- as some would have you believe or as some do believe -- by bringing men down. Not that I'm naive enough to believe their aren't extremists in the bunch. Every movement has its bad apples. Bullies, really. That's what they are. There are feminists who make the word ugly. But there are also humans who make "humanist" ugly.

I've seen many men argue that feminism is inappropriate because it ignores men's struggles. Ignores the statistics that show more men are murdered, more male soldiers die, etc etc. But if feminism is about raising women up and finding equality in our society's gender roles, then the obvious result would be less pressure on men to "Man Up" and to solve their problems through violence and manly manliness, instead of assuring men that it's okay to cry and express emotions (because it is). There would be more women on the battlefield, sharing that burden. More men teaching, staying at home with the kids, etc. We've already seen these changes happening, little by little, but there's still far to go. Why shouldn't I be standing up and speaking my mind about such things. It's the least I can do to honour the women (and men) who have fought for equality in the past so that I can vote, own property, etc.

Some men take issue with terms like "privilege" and "mansplaining" -- and with good reason, because there are those who would use those terms as insults and to bully people into silence. But the thing is, there is often truth, even in insults. Just like some jokes are very serious, even as we laugh. Just like stereotypes have grounding in truth. It's easy to get defensive. But in the right minds, what those words are asking for is empathy. A listening ear. It's hard to hear sometimes, especially when the speaker is too loud. Too in your face. Or if your biases (we all have them) are getting in the way. But when you set that all aside and just listen for a moment; hear the experiences of another, try to put yourself in their shoes first, something magical might happen, and that's called empathy. It will hopefully lead to a willingness to support the struggles of those less privileged to work towards something better for all, and I appreciate the men that, instead of crying sexism, lend their voices in support to uplift the voices of those who are ignored, punished for speaking out, or are too afraid.

I'm still learning how to be a feminist. Not a good feminist or a bad feminist, but a woman who wants to see change in our society and is willing to speak up. I'm still learning about all the ways systematic discrimination affects others and identifying my own ignorance and biases to understand how I can use my voice to help those less privileged than I. Because why shouldn't I want a society where women are equal to men? Why shouldn't I want to see a change in our system to allow that equality? So I will express my opinion on issues that I am passionate about, even if I might earn the rank of cunt, bitch, whore, or vile fempig for doing so. (Yes, I know that's #NotAllMen. If I thought that, I probably wouldn't be married to one, or have so much respect for my nephews, brothers, guy friends, etc. Please don't tell me to just ignore the trolls until they go away. Because they don't. Contrary to the belief, words do hurt. Violence hurts a whole lot more. Do not simply accuse me of sexism for identifying misogyny without first considering the foundations on which our society is built, where women were not only unable to own property, but were considered property -- in some case, "still are" is more apt.)
That doesn't mean I'm campaigning all day every day for the cause. I'm not instilling my Feminist AgendaTM on my kids through lessons and diagrams. But, I hope, I am showing my girls that men and women can do many of the same things, share many of the same roles. That progress has been made, but that there is still much to learn and do. That it's okay for boys to wear pink and play with dolls. I want to teach them about the various achievements of women throughout history in hopes of inspiring them to do and be more, and I love days like International Women's Day that bring to light and celebrate those accomplishments. I'll still watch movies, read comics, play video games where women can be interchanged with lamps, but I'm going to question the tropes and demand better. No, I will not be appeased by "strong female characters." I want characters who reflect who I am. The people I know. And I want recognition and realization that I have every right to be in this space when it comes to my preferred forms of entertainment. I will dress in short skirts and tight clothes because I enjoy my femininity, my body, my sexuality, and I'm tired of being ashamed of or shamed for that.

I do these things because I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman. And as a woman, I will fight for a society, a world, where my daughters can be proud to be women and to do and be and achieve as women, without fear.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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