Mar 22 2014

Less harassment, more representation

Well, yes, but…

Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.
Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety on the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.
If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”
Dale Spender

Yes, but.

That’s not an exhaustive list. It’s a list of practical tangible things, but it omits the more fuzzy things. Feminism’s battles have also been for no or better stereotypes, a better culture, fewer belittling jokes, fewer sexist epithets, less harassment, less casual telling women what to do (“Smile!”), less interrupting, more representation…Fewer hurdles, fewer asymmetrical expectations (he is aggressive, she is a bitch), more sharing of domestic work from dish-washing to child care, more representation, more representation, more representation.

That’s the answer to the question, too. “What’s your problem?” Their problem is that that stuff is about every day life, and it’s all the time, and it gets in everywhere. It’s not some quick discreet crisp fix, that once it’s done it’s done; it’s changes in the self and attitudes and behavior and conversation.

On the other hand, the rewards are large.


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  1. 1

    the rewards are large

    That doesn’t get pointed out, stressed, shouted nearly enough. It’s way more fun over here. There’s the whole living among friends thing, the ability to understand each other, the lack of having to watch your back against jibes and jabs and manipulative shit. The loss of servants and body slaves is actually a relief.

  2. 2
    Charles Sullivan

    Ben Radford: Karen Stollznow.

    Head spinning. Can someone explain?

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    quixote – exactly. Yes, you have to share domestic duties, but you get to have an equal as a partner.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Charles @ 2 – I can’t explain, no, but I can add a datum.


    PZ said

    Radford omits some important points.

    1. He wrote the “apology”, not Stollznow.

    2. Stollznow did not sign it, but he posted it anyway.

  5. 5

    I went on a date this weekend with a woman who has an advanced degree (MBA), a career (albeit in the “girly” cosmetics industry), her own place, her own credit card, etc; but proudly stated that she thinks feminism had nothing to do with it. “It’s just things changing”. She gave absolutely no thought on how those changes took place or what sort of fight people had to wage so she could have any of those things.

    I’ve heard of these people, but I’ve never actually met any of them. Maybe my next date will claim to be descended from a “Native American Princess”, so I can check that box in my “Shit bad dates say” bingo card.

  6. 6
    Sarah Noble

    As much as I want to agree with the image, the harm done to trans people in the name of feminism, turning us away from healthcare and rape shelters, actually does make some of us not want to identify with the label even if we are broadly intersectional feminists.

  7. 7

    @ Sarah Noble #6

    good point. I keep getting reminded that, as far as we progress, we don’t ever “arrive” and there is more to think about. I find out all the time how big my blind spots are.

  8. 8

    Just like Sarah Noble said – feminism has often served trans people poorly. And women of color. And poor women. And sex workers. And disabled women. And… the list goes on – with the abuse from anti-intersectional feminists being worse for those at the intersections of the marginal identities I just mentioned, as well as others I’m sure I haven’t mentioned.

    We don’t need to hold up a fake facade of unity and benevolence (a facade that is also racialized, and quite connected to the idea of white female harmlessness and goodheartedness) in order to be feminists and champion feminism. Love and respect our movement, but let’s not forget to critique it too.

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