Feminism and Pacting with the Enemy
When a Mookychick contributor told her friends she had written for a feminist website, she did NOT get the reaction she was expecting.
When I first told to a group of my close friends that Mookychick.com accepted my article about controlling your anger, their reaction wasn’t at all what I expected. I tried to explain it as simply as possible what Mookychick was; apparently I didn’t do a very good job because my description “it’s this really cool British feminist website” caused an immediate wave of shocked disgust. My best friend asked with terror in her eyes whether I was a feminist and when I replied that yes, I actually did consider myself a (moderate) one, she practically spat on the floor. Taken aback by such a strong, negative reaction from people I’ve always considered free and open-minded, I tried to suggest that maybe they should just focus on the fact that my article got published, instead of where. Nope, my best friend’s brother was quite adamant, publishing articles on feminist website meant fraternizing with the ENEMY!
When I woke up the following morning I realized that by reacting like a dummy (i.e. bursting into tears and accusing my friends of being a bunch of insensitive, narrow-minded assholes, followed by finishing up a bottle of white wine and feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the night) I missed a valuable opportunity to explain to people who were, despite their primary response, willing to listen to me, just what I thought that feminism was about. Because the sad truth that is that all the articles, websites, books, and/or documentaries that try to do just that are mostly consummed by an audience that is already sympathetic, which means that it rarely reaches the population that needs to be educated about the true purpose of feminism.
Although – what does it actually mean to call yourself a feminist? I have learned over the years of reading up on this topic that the term “feminism” can mean ten different things to ten different women. My god, those chicks haven’t been even able up to solve the never-ending dilemma whether to shave or not to shave! In fact, back in the United States I was told on several occassions that I was not a feminist, should not call myself one, and by doing so I was actually insulting the whole movement because I: a) shaved on regular basis, b) used the “forbidden” items like miniskirts, lipstick (red!), and bra, c) flirted with men, and even d) dated a quarterback. Upon these arguments I was more or less ready to quit feminism for good; then I came across Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters in the library – and I didn’t. It’s Jessica’s philosophy that feminism as such is mainly about the freedom to make choices, may it be about one’s own body, education, career, style of clothing, and/or the number of one’s sexual partners. Just like the mainstream society doesn’t have any right to tell me what to do with my life, neither does the wing of extreme, radical women with moustaches that somehow seem to believe that they own the movement. And so I decided to stick around.
It’s been my well-preserved secret though that the concern for the equality between sexes is not, in fact, the main reason why I can’t leave feminism alone. Obviously, I do enjoy the freedom of making my own choices and I wish my friends realized that historically such freedom has been available to us chicks only for past couple of decades and that there are still many, many folks around who would like to take it back from us. (Those who are at all familar with the right-wing Republican attitude toward the gender issues in the United States know what I’m talking about.) But one doesn’t have to be a feminist in order to fight gender prejudice; there are many other people who have this on their agenda simply because they are concerned with promoting social justice and equal rights for everybody – as is, for example, the Women’s Group in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Illinois.
Nope, the main reason why I occassionally need to hang out with the feminist kind (and to write an article or two for their website) is that in general I’m more likely to find chicks there that are on the same page and don’t make me feel like a total outcast. Because “it’s not easy being green” and when a girl of a certain age is the only one between her girlfriends who is not yet married and doesn’t have any desire to have kids, then trust me, my friends, it’s extremely refreshing to keep in touch with like-minded women who simply understand her. To whom she doesn’t have to over and over explain that no, she really doesn’t think that she will spend the rest of her life regretting that she didn’t have a baby (though it should be noted that plenty of feminists are parents); and no, having more than, say, four sexual partners does not make her a dysfunctional, crazy slut and no, having more than, say, four sexual partners does not make her a dysfunctional, crazy slut, just a sexually liberated, independent young woman who knows what she wants and isn’t at all ashamed to take it. So here! It’s personal, baby…
I’m still not entirely clear on why my friends suffer from such an extreme case of a feminismphobia that it actually prevents them from enjoying my success as a writer, but I’m starting to suspect that a lack of information is the key here. There is this stereotype of a muscular, hairy, men-hating monster walking around with a knife in her hand, looking for some balls to chop off, which is very difficult to erase from the mind of people who have never bothered do do any serious thinking about this topic. If they did, they might be surprised by how many common goals they actually share with the supposed ENEMY. Please, allow me, as the self-appointed negotiator of the opposite camp, to finish this article by paraphrasing John Lennon: “All I’m saying is give peace the chance”…
A picture of a bus. Sometimes women sit on these with skirts hemmed above the knee. Scandalous.