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To remove shadows and blocks

There’s a blog and blogger called Kelly Barnhill, and she has a post from yesterday on anti-feminism and how mystifying it is. I know; isn’t it? It mystifies the hell out of me. Why not join it instead of fight it? (I think the official answer is “because only ugly bitches are feminists,” but that answer is incorrect.)

Now, a while ago (quite a while, actually) I wrote a post about a children’s movie with some pretty gross lady-hating themes, and I’ve managed to catch heck for it. In the comments, in my email box. Whatever. There are people who are seriously mad at me for pointing out that the movie was, in addition to being a crappily-animated, source-text-destroying, dreckish disaster of a movie – it was also grossly antifeminist. Moreover, it fed into the baseless fears of the men’s-rights folks who seem to think that personal empowerment is a zero-sum game. That to empower women means to disempower men. And that the purpose of feminism is to throw men, collectively mind you, into the proverbial dust-bin of history.

These things make me tired.

And sad.

It’s depressing that so many people think not-being-dominant=being-subordinate. Oy. Just because I don’t want to be subordinate, that doesn’t mean I want you to be subordinate.

The curious thing for me, though, is the sense of ownership. I write children’s books. I tweet. I keep this blog. I have a readership – a small one, sure. But a readership nonetheless. I get notes from readers – both men and women – saying “I come here to read about the writing process” or “I come here to get your insights on….” whatever. Books. Kids. Pretty things. “Please keep your feminism to yourself,” people say in comments I delete. “No one cares about your politics,” one woman wrote me. She wrote a lot of other sentences, mind, and I’ll repeat none of them here. She closed with, “the next time you want to air your grievances, just keep your yap shut.”

Apparently, for both children and children’s authors, silence is golden.

Or maybe it’s not authors. Maybe it’s women. Maybe women saying things online makes us itchy. Or maybe women saying things at all.

And campaigns. Don’t forget campaigns. Campaigns of fretful deracinated angst-ridden wastrels trying to persuade the entire rest of the world to stop reading the blogs of six or seven Demons Incarnate because they so hates’em.

The thing is though? My identity as a feminist informs every facet of my life. It informs my parenting. It informs my reading. It informs the way I listen to the news. It informs my interactions with others. It informs my understanding. It informs the questions that I ask. And it informs the writing that I do  – the novels for children, the short stories for grown ups, the stuff on this blog. I can’t take the feminism out. I don’t even know how.

And maybe this is the limitations of my world-view. Because I honestly can’t understand how we can be in this world and not be feminist. How can we just not notice inequality and injustice when it is staring us in the dang face? How can we not come up against the blindness of privilege and not want to change? How can we not desire to open our eyes? All social justice movements, in the end, work to remove shadows and blocks. We cannot see injustice if the limits of privilege block the view. If we remove the block we can see unfairness and we can change the world and make it better. Those blocks are removed through experience, through awareness-raising, and, probably most effectively, through story. Story matters.

I like this Kelly Barnhill.

I am a feminist. Proudly so. Unabashedly so. It concerns me that I get unpleasant emails and comments just based on this blog. I have in the past. I will in the future. Ugly people will say ugly things, and that is just that. It concerns me that “Writing While Feminist” is offensive to people – that the fact of my world-view and the fact of my voice and the fact that I tell stories and think things and see the world in terms of changing and re-shaping and bettering things for everyone is somehow worthy of vitriol or anger or shaming words.

Same here.



  1. suttkus says

    (I think the official answer is “because only ugly bitches are feminists,” but that answer is incorrect.)

    Not so much incorrect as completely irrelevant. Even if it was true, it would be no reason whatsoever not to be a feminist.

    But, of course I’d say that. I’m fat and ugly. : – )

  2. Wylann says

    I am a white male hetero and I fully support feminism, so I’m not sure I get where these MRA types are coming from but:

    [I]t fed into the baseless fears of the men’s-rights folks who seem to think that personal empowerment is a zero-sum game. That to empower women means to disempower men.

    Obviously, empowerment is not a zero sum game that disempower’s men. However, privilege is closer to a zero sum game, and that is what they are really defending, IMO.

    Of course, I haven’t met any of them honest enough to admit that. Much like some modern racists, they insist that everything is already equal and asking for anything else is ‘special rights’.

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