Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Feminism Skepticism

Running a close third behind religious fundamentalist and political dissident blogs, are the those belonging to self-proclaimed femininazis. Though third in prevailance, they are by no means a quiet or insignificant presence.

In general, I have no problem with people labelling themselves however they see fit. I think its all a bit silly and pointless, but its also harmless enough. So if it makes people feel important, I really have no objection. But I do have a problem with feminists who loudly assert themselves as such. Why? Because I believe all women are feminists at heart. One does not have to buy into all the female empowerment exhortation to believe that women can accomplish absolutely anything. One does not have to be a devotee of Betty Friedan (although, The Feminist Mystique is definitely worth reading) to understand that women posess a unique and indomitable strength of spirit. One does not have to eschew the partnership or support of men to grasp the concept of female autonomy and equality.

All that is required to be a feminist, is to believe in the power, potential, and perspicacity of women. Even if we exist in wholesale ignorance of our own strength, to recognize it in other women is to acknowledge it in ourselves. And when, either by design or happenstance, we are confronted with something that forces us to draw upon reserves we did not know we posessed, we meet the challenge with the quiet but fierce determinaton that is the legacy of our sex.

Elizabeth I was, in many ways, the original feminist though neither the concept nor the word existed during the time of her reign. In an era when women were mere chattel, she was absolutely convinced of her sovereignty. In an age when women were thought indolent, inconstant and insipid, she was confident in her intellect and the rectitude of her rule. Elizabeth did not live by a laundry list of principles that would have allowed her to proclaim some hackneyed ideological designation. The irony would have amused her as much as the need for precepts would have mystified her. She simply lived her life as she saw fit, even constrained as she was by convention and religious dogma. Long before Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Margaret Sanger, she believed in herself and fiercely embraced the one and only doctrine that feminism need sanction...Freedom.

So how does this translate into modern day idealism? After all, its no longer about the right to vote, the right to life, or equality in the workplace.

Well, the feminazis would have you believe that to be a feminist means adopting a rigid set of standards and then defending them with the ferocity and zeal that only the very conflicted er, I mean, convicted can muster. It means excluding those who don't live up to those standards in an effort to preserve their dubious integrity and tenuous superiority. They like to assert themselves as free thinkers and defenders of equality, when in reality, they are simply using a convenient label to validate and codify their own choices. They do not celebrate or embrace the gift of choice itself, but belittle those not in keeping with their own narrow view of womanhood. They do us a disservice by robbing us of the freedom our forebearers fought so hard to win.

I stay at home. I raise children and keep house. Sometimes I even bake cookies and engage in other domestic pursuits that would undoubtedly make the most staunch feminist blanche with horror. In many ways, I am a throwback to the days when women were marginalized and subjugated. And yet, I call myself a feminist. How can that possibly be?

Thanks to feminism, I am assured of the value of my choice, and I do not feel honor bound to join the workforce and prove my worth to the world. Because for me, it is not a movement, or a belief system, or a lifestyle. It is the simple freedom to choose. It is the lack of any preconceived ideas about what a woman should be, and do and aspire to, as well as the knowledge and conviction that she can be, and do, and aspire to anything her heart desires.

Thank you Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Susan and Margaret. Your sacrifice has made the world a better place for women, even if some have yet to realize it's about choosing your own destinty, rather than being a slave to a cause.

16 Comments:

  • At 4:10 PM, Anonymous You are Crazy said…

    Please show me an example of a woman who labels HERSELF as a feminazi.

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    I must admit I read the first paragraph of your post and my heart sank a bit. I have huge issues with the term feminazi (which I doubt is ever self-proclaimed) in that it's a label created by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk to inextricably link something grotesque and abhorrent to the notion of feminism. (Which it seems that you agree is not a bad thing in itself.)

    What I think you're saying in your post (and I read it a couple of times) is that there is a small subset of women who are angry, don't like men, don't like SAHMs blah blah blah. They have their own agenda to promote. And yeah, they stink.

    But I am reluctant to call them feminazis. If we use the term, we are just playing into the evil genius of the right-wing who diminish everything good in this word with semantic trickery.

    You've inadvertently (I assume) done it yourself by saying you "are a throwback to the days when women were marginalized." Well, no you're not. Because you're writing. And reading. And knowing that you're worthy of something more than a husband who rapes you every night or a life of quiet desperation. We take these things for granted now but they weren't always so.

    I also have to take issue with your claim that your domestic pursuits would "make the most staunch femninist blanche with horror." I AM that staunch feminist! And I say, preheat the oven, and send those cookies my way!

    Don't let some fringe extremists define you or put you on the defensive. And don't let them define feminism. Personally? I'd rather reclaim the label than distance myself from it. It stands for very good things.

    Thanks as always for a provocative essay.

     
  • At 5:47 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Provocative is good right?

    No, it isn't just extremists, though they certainly play a part.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I really dislike women dividing themselves with labels such as "feminist", because as I said...I think every woman is a feminist. I think that the label in and of itself is divisive, because it implies that we are to play by a certain set of rules if we are to avoid bringing shame and dishonor upon our gender.

    Feminism to me is not about playing by any rules, but about having the freedom to say..."Screw the rules...this works for me and I like it" and not be jailed, beaten, ostracized or banished for it.

    I dislike it when it is implied that only a certain kind of woman has earned the right to call herself a feminist or avail herself of the privileges that feminism has afforded us.

    I honestly wish the word did not exist.

    I get your point about the term "feminazi" being just as harmful and divisive and its a valid one. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative title?

    I read a blog the other day that made me see red...basically stating that any woman who didn't go out and work was doing her children and her sisters in arms a horrible injustice. It pissed me off. I imagine you feel the same way when people imply that your children are being raised by someone else.

    Lately the whole "Womankind divided" thing has me very disspirited. There's no reason for it. And "feminism" is a convenient vehicle for furthering the hostility.

    Does that make any sense?

    Thank for your thoughtful comments. Once a long time ago, I participated in some really thought provoking debates with really smart women, and I miss that. It's nice to hear some intelligent discourse again. :?)

     
  • At 7:37 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    I enjoy the discourse as well! To wit:

    all women are feminists: not hardly. read this piece of drivel for example. The links include such gems as American Communism and Feminism, Feminism is Evil, How the CIA used Feminism to Destabilize Society; plus gems like God wants men to look and act like men, and women to look and act like women. It's obvious that women don't wear dresses or culottes into battle, they look like G. I. Joes (like rugged men). It's just not right! Also: A woman belongs in the kitchen, at home, raising children for the Lord.

    So there's that. I guess if you want to be a feminist, you sort of have to subscribe to the notion that women have choices that are not predetermined for them by the Lord.

    Labels: Yes, all inherently present challenges because they mean different things to different people. (See also: Liberal, Christian, Jew, Hippie)

    I'm not sure who's saying that you, for example, don't have the right to call you a feminist. Send them my way and I will talk some sense into them. Although I would say that whats-her-name who I just quoted up above...not so much a feminist. But I doubt she'd want the label anyway.

    Better term for man-hating extremist types: Nutbar.

    That blog you read: Offensive. She does not speak for feminism, the same as Christians who believe in the death penalty do not really speak for other Christians. She is Nutbar Numero Uno.

    Other people raising my kids: Those other people would be Nate, who's at home, raising children for the lord. (Ha)

    Provocative: YES! Always good when well-considered. As here.

     
  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    PS

    the thing that really gets my knickers in a twist about that website is that they cite all these "rape" examples to make their case about women in the military. But we all know they don't give a rat's ass about women being raped.

    Ha, look...here I am forcing you to form coherent sentences when you're supposed to be on break. No pressure to respond until you have the time.

     
  • At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Jessie said…

    I have to agree - I've never heard another woman label herself a "feminazi".

    I have only heard other women using the term in a deragatory manner in referring to another woman who lives a brand of feminism that is not the same, just as I've heard women label other women "breastfeeding nazis" or "attachment parenting nazis".

    The language is part of the problem and part of the divisiveness. I don't have an alternative to any of the labels.

    How about just "woman"?

     
  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Well...if you insist upon throwing religious fundamentalists into the mix, then it's a whole different ballgame, no??

    I can't think of a more compelling argument against biblical teachings than their subjugation of women, unless its their categorical denigration and villification of those who do not live according to archaic and intransigent ideals. But...you don't want to get me started on that, I think.

    Suffice it to say that I can do without religious zealots telling me my place is in the home, even if that is where I choose to be at present.

    That whole line of hyper sexist ecclesiastical clap trap really chaps my ass.

    But still and all, this just proves that instead of dividing ourselves with illusory and destructive labels, we need to band together under the umbrella of womanood to fight our real enemies...not each other.

    So I gather your hubby is a SAHD? Shit, yet another reason for me to be hopelessly envious of you. I suppose he does housework too? No...don't tell me. I don't want to know.

    ;?)

     
  • At 8:43 AM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    I actually do alot of work with a very feminst grassroots charity and so I am exposed to the most hard core feminsts you could imagine. I don't know of one who would deny you the right to call yourself a feminst or disagree that it is about choice. And Feminazi is a derogatory term bestoed by others and never self proclaiimed. It is actually really problematic.

    I have learned there are several definitions of feminism and that the concept is ever-evolving based on the issues and systemic oppressions that women are experiencing in their own time.

    Your provocative post is a demonstration that labels and people denying ones ability to claim a label (if they want it) is so unhealthy. Feminism is mostly about women uniting.

    I personally hate labels in all forms but it is concept and a set of politics that I respect.

     
  • At 12:46 PM, Blogger Wendy Boucher said…

    Wow - great reading today, you bloggers! I was just going to do yardwork today. Now I'm going to be thinking while I do yardwork. Thanks!

     
  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    Yes he's a sahd, no he doesn't do housework (very well), and guess what...we're not even married. Take that fundie nutbars.

     
  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Never self-proclaimed? I have to disagree. However, I do agree that feminism as a *concept* is valuable. Unfortunately, the *label* of feminism is doing exactly the opposite of that which you assert feminism itself aspires to do, which was the point of my piece.

    Instead of women being united in a common cause; equality, respect and freedom from tyranny and oppression, we are dividing ourselves and denying each other the freedom of choice. Feminism is being used to promoted a set of standards and ideals and exclude those who do not comply.

    I don't think we need a label to be united. I don't think we need a concept to be united. What we need is to respect each other's choices and rejoice that we have them. The judging and the disparaging and the finger pointing has to stop in order for "feminism" to achieve the unification of women, but in many ways is the precepts of feminism themselves enable that.

    My husband and I watched North Country last night. It was very powerful. It made me wonder if the contemporary absence of any serious and pervasive struggles for women is what has made us turn on one another. I don't think it's what Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Margaret Sanger envisioned as the fruition of their hopes, dreams, and efforts.

    Thanks for your remarks. Very insightful and intelligent. I think, strangely enough, we are basically on the same page.

     
  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    And, I wanted to add, that I changed the title of my piece because while I feel that the characterization is an apt one, it *is* just another harmful label that divides us.

    I leave the body of my piece intact however, as I feel it would be disingenuous to modify it now. And, I still feel somewhat that its use is important to recognize.

     
  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    I hear you and agree that the last thing women need is to be divided or choices judged. Just so counter productive.

    And true - we are basically on the same page.

    I think in general I like to challenge my own personal definition of feminism all the time to be sure it still fits. Thanks for offering me a chance to do that again today.

     
  • At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Kristen said…

    I think all women should be feminists, however I don't think all women are. There are way too women that I see every day (particularly where I live) who allow their womanhood to be oppressed to a point where their voice is non-existent - and what's worse is that they are not only okay with that, but it's their choice.

    I think feminazi is a word created by men to marginalize women who don't put up with their shit. It's never used positively - but if someone calls me it, I'd actually be flattered - as it would be in some ways that I wasn't putting up with the typical shit that we all see go on and I was saying something.

    Being a feminist is about the ability of having choices, but it's also about having a voice that must be heard. When you will only wear skirts, keep your hair long, and are not permitted to experience life as a human - that's not having a choice - and that's not being a feminist.

     
  • At 11:24 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    I love how you get right to the heart of the matter..."I think feminazi is a word created by men to marginalize women who won't put up with their shit" You certainly could be right about that.

    But I think that "Feminism" is used and viewed with equal disdain. I know what you mean about being proud of your voice, but we don't need a label to be heard or empowered. I feel that it harms us in the long run. Why do we have set ourselves apart from other women to feel powerful? I'd rather we worked on uniting as one booming voice rather than fracturing into warring factions of womanhood. It only weakens us.

    As for the skirt wearing, long haired, husband head of the household clan...I can think of no other explanation for a woman surrendering herself in such a way other than that they have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into relinquishing their humanity, their autonomy and their voice in the pursuit of a dubious ideal.

    Sad.

     
  • At 9:51 AM, Blogger R Praveen Kumar said…

    fair enough- every woman is a feminist at heart...but that may be the case in a well developed country like the USA..on the flipside when u consider countries like india where women have been oppressed for ages(not in urban india),i think it is very necessary for women not only to remind others but also themselves that they are as good as men,that they have equal rights ,that they are no less..

     

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