International Women’s Day and some reflection time

Five years ago on International Women’s Day I started my first feministy blog called Third Wave in the Second City. Two years ago, after I was accepted to IU, I started this blog, originally called Super Woman’s Day Job and now called “I’m a Fucking Feminist.” Although International Women’s Day isn’t really “a thing” here in the states, to me it always meant the day I remembered I had a voice and that voice mattered.

As I dive, or am swallowed, further into this academic life, I feel the power of my voice growing. I know important words now. I can cite studies with authority. I have a key to the lab for Christ’s sake. I matter. And while this feeling is mainly delightful, I know in the upcoming decades I need to remember this is not the experience for many women. Many women feel silenced or unheard. Many women don’t believe in the power of their stories, or they don’t have the priviledge of an ivory tower pulpit.

I recognize my new life, and my new role, gives me the ability to have authority with my voice and my story. This is an incredible gift. Whether it is on this little blog, for the RedEye (or hopefully something even bigger in the future), or for an academic journal, I want to remember this matters, writing matters, telling my story matters. And I want in the future to help as many other young women as I can recognize this power as well.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

Advertisements

Broken Hearts: Why Vulnerable Gender Discussions Are So Difficult for the Heteros

There is another nerd boy claiming in a very round-about, “but I’m still liberal” way that feminism is to blame for all of his heartache and misery. His piece is rather whiny and insufferable at points but mainly vulnerable and heart wrenching. Severe depression and anxiety did a number on this kid as it does many of us; and he wants to blame something. He wants to use his “logic” and all of his brilliant smarts to solve the equation and figure out that feminism or at least the radical-dworkin-esque feminism is to blame for his hard-knock life. The thing of course is that -as many especially female nerds  have pointed out- neither women nor feminism are to blame for the issues of isolation, a most-human experience if there ever was one. Sometimes life sucks no matter how liberal or good-intentioned you are.

Of course there have been some responses especially from the nerdy tech world to Mr. Aaronson, some biting and harsh as is to be expected, as a lady who suffered through my own emo-tastic youth I find it pretty infuriating that Aaronson wants to blame the fight for gender equality for his misery; but others including Laurie Penny’s from NewStatesmen were simply beautiful and open and honest and exactly where I think the conversation needs to go. Penny writes….

“Hi there, shy, nerdy boys. Your suffering was and is real. I really fucking hope that it got better, or at least is getting better, At the same time, I want you to understand that that very real suffering does not cancel out male privilege, or make it somehow alright. Privilege doesn’t mean you don’t suffer, which, I know, totally blows.”

THIS. This a thousand times over. Having privilege does not mean everything is always easy and good. I am white and middle class. When I saw a police officer, I never thought about where my hands were. I never had to stand in the reduced lunch line to the taunts of classmates. I had food and shelter and support and a relatively easy invisible existence. And I still cried my way through my sophomore year homecoming dance. Life was still hard, just not in a systematically unjust way..

If Penny had just made this one amazingly solid point I would have wanted to give her a gold star. But then she went on with this brilliance.

“We bring our broken hearts and blue balls to the table when we talk gender politics, especially if we are straight folks. Consent and the boundaries of consent – desire and what we’re allowed to speak of desire – we’re going to have to get better, braver and more honest, we’re going to have to undo decades of toxic socialisation and learn to speak to each other as human beings in double quick time.”

1000% why talking about gender becomes so tense is because we are never talking about abstract gender relations. We are talking about that boy or that girl, we are talking about our broken hearts and our bruised egos. And if we can’t get beyond that; if we can’t allow our hearts to heal and our souls to bolster with genuiness, than I feel like we are destined to never talk beyond hurt.

Read all of Penny’s awesome piece here.  

What Does All This Glittery Celebrity Feminism Really Mean?

I’ve got to admit, that new Taylor Swift song “Shake It” is pretty damn catchy. And so is Ms. Swift’s new shiny feminism. But I’m afraid all that shaking and such, may have left some of the baby feminists a little confused about what feminism really is. So I wrote a little diddy in the RedEye about what it means to be a feminist in two easy steps.

Read all about it here.

“Feminism, at its nitty-gritty core, is a two-parter. First, feminism is the idea that men and women should be equal in the work force, at home, in society, on all of the levels. Most people except for some unsavory, trolly extremists can get behind this general notion. Please note that saying men and women should be equal is not saying they are the same; women don’t have to “act like” men or vice versa, and yes, the obvious biological differences still exist. It is saying women should not be treated as inferior in the eyes of governments, religions, societies or families. The second, more vital and often contentious part of feminism is the understanding that men and women currently are not treated equally. I think Part 2 is where a lot of young women and men balk against feminism because A) they don’t see the inequalities in their lives or B) they can’t or refuse to see the bias other women face because of their gender.”

Men’s Rights Activists are not for equality

I wrote a little piece today in Role Reboot about the growing trend of comparing MRA to feminists. The basic gyst: MRAs are not “feminists for men.” They are hateful and they do not want equality. Read more here.

 

“In my past decade of feminist work I have never heard a single feminist talk with such hateful speech. I have seen my feminist lady friends fall in love with men, work besides men, propose to their boyfriends, walk beside men at protests, give birth to little men, loving and respecting these men at the same time they fought for equal rights. I have seen my feminist man friends stand on street corners to get signatures for female politicians, hold their girlfriends’ hands at rallies, sit around the board table at a Chicago National Organization for Women meeting, and encourage their wives while they were giving birth or running for office—all the while not resenting or hating any of these women because they were feminists.”

 

This is what #survivorprivilege looks like

This was a seriously hard column to write. I had so many unexpected thoughts and feelings while I was writing it. I kept just getting so frustrated and angry that this was a thing and that I had to explain what rape survivors don’t have privilege in the sense that asshat white men talk about privilege. There I go again; feeling the rant coming. Here are my feels in edited form:

“According to RAINN, only 40 percent of rapes are reported. Of those 40 percent, only 20 percent are ever brought to trial and only 10 percent will ever be found guilty. Most victims go through the painful process of having to relive their trauma over and over, having every detail of what they drank, what they were wearing and what they said scrutinized for possible indications that the victim led their assailant on (aka that they “wanted it”), only to have the entire process end with the rapist walking away.

No wonder young women choose the less of two evils, choosing to report to their colleges so at least their perpetrators won’t be sharing a bathroom with them the morning before their chemistry exam. I want George Will to think about this the next time he tries to claimrape survivors have privilege. Young women have two options: file charges with the police with a 10 percent chance of being their rapist being found guilty or go to the university and attempt to salvage any remnants of safety in their homes. What a privilege.”

Check out the full rant here. 

Why Elliot Rodger is a wake up call for young feminists

It’s been more than a week since Elliot Rodger went on a misogyny-fueled killing spree in California. For the past week, the media and society has tried to process what happened all over the interwebs everywhere from the comment section of Jezebel to the hallowed walls of Tumblr to the streaming hashtags of Twitter. There have been conversations about gun laws, mental health and of course hating women and what it means to live as #yesallwomen in a world where Elliot Rodger existed. Despite some criticism, I think many of these conversations have been productive and productively uncomfortable. This tragedy has forced Americans to talk about gender and violence in a more honest way; the gunning down young men and women in Isla Vista goes beyond debating Chris Brown’s fucked up song lyrics or the disturbingly violent rapes on Game of Thrones. We can’t pretend Elliot Rodger is a lone madman and we can’t pretend misogyny isn’t real.

For me personally it has been a wake-up call, reminding me of the tangible reasons I’m a feminist. For the feminist movement, especially for the new wave of young feminists, I hope this horrific crime is also a wake-up shout: We HAVE TO include young men in this generation’s feminist movement.

We have to start addressing the fucked-up way we teach young men to be “masculine” in the same way we are trying to change the way young women look at femininity. We need to stop the dichotomy of #notallmen and #yesallwomen, and start to see how the challenges both genders face come from the exact same disgusting source: strict gender roles and ridiculous gendered expectations based solely on if your genitalia is an innie or an outie.

Elliot believed his entire self-worth was tied up in whether or not “hot” women would sleep with him. He believed he “deserved” to sleep with hot women because he was a good man. He is operating within a dichotomously-gendered world we have created: men get women as a reward.  Of course this sucks for women – we are little more than objects to bestowed on deserving men – but it also blows for men who begin to believe they are less than if they can’t “score with the ladies.”

And if men can’t get women, their only socially approved outlet of emotion is anger and aggression. Society doesn’t let “manly men” feel sad or god-forbid talk about their feelings. They are allowed to rage and that is all; rage until they have to vomit their anger out in all sorts of cringe-worthy ways. And while all this anger may fuel the threads of Reddit, it is not helping any young men find lasting happiness and equality in the world.

#YesAllWomen deserve to live in a world free of fear of misogyny; and also #YesAllMen deserve to be able to live beyond the expectations of masculinity. Men too need a movement to break these ridiculously strict gender roles and I believe our generation of feminism should be that movement.

Feminists still have to constantly fight against the ridiculous stereotype that feminists are “man-haters.” The past discourse of the second wave often pitted women against men in a ridiculous fight we both lost.

In the next generation we need to embrace men into the cause; with men we need to address issues of masculinity and the harm it does. This will not take away from the feminist movement, it can only strengthen it.

But it is not just about embracing men’s issues and addressing masculinity. We need to actively and vocally invite men into the feminist movement. We need more men on our chapter boards of NOW. We need more men writing feminist pieces in major news outlets. We need more feminist men in our ivory towers. We need more men who identify as feminist knowing the struggle is not just that of their sisters, mothers, girlfriends or partners, but that of their own. We need men invested in the feminist fight because, as we saw with Elliot Rodger, this is men’s fight too.