Monday, June 13, 2005

Why feminism still matters

Kara over at Radio Active (judging by today, site for the day!) tipped me off to this pile of badly thought through crap that got me really REALLY cranky (like I need much provocation).

The essay reports on violence amongst girls increasing. Well, firstly, I ain't saying that their stats are dubious, but I would have to say, really? Tell that to the fights I saw / experienced during my younger years.

Hmm, well, such problems of personal experience on the receiving end of girl violence being put aside, let's just look at this steaming nonsense and do some language analysis:

"Part of this spike in violence is related to evolving sex roles. Historically, boys have received messages from the culture that connect masculinity with physical aggression, while girls received opposite messages, encouraging passivity and restraint."

Well, thus far I would probably agree that these have indeed been the stereotypes perpetuated and promoted for 'social good'. But then it takes a wild leap and starts dropping in not-so-subtle messages we should read within the statements: I have highlighted these with italics for the slow of interpretation skills.

Now girls are barraged with images of "sheroes"—think Sydney Bristow on ABC's "Alias" or Uma Thurman's the Bride in "Kill Bill: Vol. 2"—giving them a wider range of role models and tacit permission to alter their behavior. Accordingly, says Spivak, some girls have "shifted from internalizing anger to striking out."

Good lord, we're being barraged! We're utterly overwhelmed by female action heroes who are able to think for themselves and make their own life choices without men putting them down or blocking their efforts... except not.

And heavens to Murgatroyd, what will women do if they have a wider range of role models?! Surely this will spin the earth off it's social axis and leave us at the mercy of the aliens?!

Tacit permission, eh? Intepretation? Were we not meant to read these possibilities in this way, as an invitation? It was just amusing?

Accordingly...some girls have "shifted from internalizing anger to striking out": Oh, that will never do. Clearly that was just plain wrong.

[Please, someone note I am being ironic...]

But then we get the real juicy knock: who to blame for this.

The women's movement, which explicitly encourages women to assert themselves like men, has unintentionally opened the door to girls' violent behavior.

WHAAAAAAT?!!!

Okay, many women have a problem with feminism, partly because they falsely believe that feminism is a one-size fits all ideology. Feminism has never been about making women like men - duh, why would we? - but it has been about opening ideas, opportunities, challenging accepted codes of behaviour (and exploring why they are accepted). At its best and most radical feminism should change the world and the way we think; our approach to social communities and responsibilities, our efforts to make the world a better place through thoughts and deeds. Feminism takes a lot of flack for things that it ain't (like being anti-men: still an old favourite I see trotted out on occasions) but rarely does it get many plaudits for the things it has made societies re-think.

I am a feminist: I also think it's pretty darn difficult to be one without being engaged with social justice in general (and likewise I grant short shrift to those who promote a 'come-the-revolution-sisters' mentality that ignores the particularities of women in social change).

Feminist and proud of it! The type of lazy writing that this article highlights just demonstrates further why feminism must not give up explaining and educating and changing the world.

And btw. Sorry the quotes aren't indented but blogger had a wibble about blockquote. Natch.

3 comments:

David Duff said...

As you are keen to do some "language analysis", perhaps you could help me through my confusions. For example you write: "..they [women] falsely believe that feminism is a one-size fits all ideology." Then you tell us: "I am a feminist". So what size are you, er, sorry, I mean, if there are lots of different feminists, which type are you?

And how can you state with confidence that "Feminism has never been about making women like men.." Applying the logic of your first statement, there might well be women who are feminists because they want to be like men.

And how 'analytical' is it of you to imply that your personal experiences are, at the least, the equal if not better than the 'research' done by the other people? I mean, tear their figures to bits, but don't compare them to your "Daisy Pulls It Off" escapades.

Nor do I understand your linguistic problem with the word "barraged" which I would say describes accurately what occurs to all of us in this modern world of images. Nor can I see any problem with "wider range of role models", because off-hand, I would say that they have more on offer to them than, say, Jane Austen. Equally I find it hard to argue with the statement ".. some girls have "shifted from internalizing anger to striking out."" judging by the occasional news footage of drunken and drugged young women screaming and fighting outside night-clubs, something I can absolutely assure you did not take place 50 years ago on anything like the scale seen today.

You ask, "..what will women do if they have a wider range of role models?!" Er, well, probably behave in roughly the way they behave now - and I make no judgement as to whether that is good or bad.

Again you suggest, albeit in a somewhat confused linguistic style, "At its best and most radical feminism should change the world and the way we think; our approach to social communities and responsibilities, our efforts to make the world a better place through thoughts and deeds." I'm not arguing with you, merely asking which particular brand of feminism you are referring to?

I have tried to find a logic in the following statement: "I am a feminist: I also think it's pretty darn difficult to be one without being engaged with social justice in general". Why? Outside of women's concerns, what has feminism to add, or subtract, from the debate on, say, immigration policy?

The following I find incomprehensible: "..likewise I grant short shrift to those who promote a 'come-the-revolution-sisters' mentality that ignores the particularities of women in social change", linguistically speaking, of course.

Perhaps your penultimate paragraph sums it all up: "The type of lazy writing that this article highlights just demonstrates further why feminism must not give up explaining and educating and changing the world." Quite so, couldn't have put it better myself.

Anonymous said...

long days on planet duff with little distraction.

Apparently if one is extremely rude he's been known to fuck off.

Anonymous said...

"Outside of women's concerns, what has feminism to add, or subtract, from the debate on, say, immigration policy?"

Lots.
Female undocumented immigrants in the US are often the victims of rape and abuse. They are unable to report such violence against them to law enforcement because of their citizenship status. Therefore, these acts of abuse are condoned by not seeking out a legitimate guest worker/amesty program.
Also, since most migrant workers in the US are male, families in Mexico are being torn apart, leaving women to shoulder all of the burden of providing for the family.
Therefore, if you look hard enough, you will find feminist issues to contend with EVEN in issues related to immigration. Based off of your half-assed critique of "Why Feminism Still Matters," I didn't expect anything less than a myopic assessment of this social issue.