Feminist Traps

Soapbox LogoSometimes we fight so hard for what we want we lose sight of what we need. This is true whether it is the individual us, the public us or the group us as a people or an identity. What does this mean? How does this affect us when we are trying to find our place in the world? I can’t speak for all, not for anyone but me in truth, but I can speak for myself, individually as the private, public and group me. As a woman, I can speak to that me. As a woman who has always held to feminist views on all issues but who is now wondering what this means, to be a feminist and to want my cake and to eat it too. What does that truly mean?

I suspect what I am about to say will cause some of my same gender some angst and maybe some anger. I suspect it will cause some to wonder what the hell is going on in my head, some may even want to burn my Feminist card and kick me out of the Woman Club, but bear with me. Women have been in a public fight for equality since 1848 that is more than a century; in fact that is one hundred sixty-eight years. Or in more easily understood terms, one hell of a long time. What have we really ‘won’ in all that time, what have we truly gained for ourselves?

1920 – 19th Amendment to the Constitution is signed and we are finally part of the national conversation, we can vote. What do we do with this privilege? Not very damned much, in truth most of us throw this away, we sit it out, we stay at home and hope someone will speak up for us and our interest.

From 1920 through 1978 there were two key issues on the table for women, how to earn a paycheck and how to own our reproductive processes. Seems to me these were inextricably linked, though most did not make connection. We saw a few key court rulings and pieces of legislation during these years.

Since 1978, well frankly it has been more of the same. More fair this and equality that, more bullshit added to the pile to make us be quiet and look the other way. You can’t beat us anymore without consequence and husbands can’t rape their wives any more either. But let’s face it in the grand scheme of things we really haven’t come all that far and we really haven’t done all that much to make this particular part of the world better for fifty percent of the population.

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Truthfully, as women we suck at taking power in our own hands and representing ourselves. We are fifty percent of the overall US population yet hold under twenty-five percent of the state and twenty percent of the federal legislative seats. These numbers are appalling, yet we wonder why we lose ground. I will tell you why, those advances were gifts. A group of Men gave us a gift, they didn’t mean for us to compete for seats at the table. What they intended was to allow us a little bit of freedom, too feel as if we were a bit more enfranchised so we would shut the hell up and start playing nice again. We were grateful and we thanked them instead of snatching victory by the balls and running with it.

There is something else that happened in the midst of all the clamor, we forgot we were women and we begin to allow others to redefine femininity on terms different and strange. We confused femininity and feminism, begin to believe we could not be both. As so frequently happens with movements we allowed the radical and outside voices to define our new ‘norm’. Now we don’t know who we are or what we are, frankly we are confused by our natural instincts and afraid to be women for fear we might be going against what we are told we should be.

I am absolutely a Feminist. I believe I should be paid the same money as my male counterparts. I believe every single woman has the right to control her reproductive life-cycle, this includes the right to legal and safe abortion. I believe in a woman’s right to access education, credit, housing and all the other needs of life without gender bias.

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I am a Feminist, but frankly I am a woman first. I love being a woman. I have always loved being a woman. I love having doors opened for me, dressing up in something soft and feminine, wearing high-heels and stockings for a night out with someone special. I like being a women, being a woman is part of my power and I have absolutely no fear in saying so. We are born with this power, men love looking at us because that is how we are designed. Why in the hell should we pretend it is otherwise?

I have a brain, in fact I have a really good brain and I expect the men who work with me and who date me to respect me for that brain. Nevertheless, I still have all the attributes of the female gender and I do not expect men to be emasculated, pretend they don’t know I am a woman. It is impossible for them to do so, hell most of us make it impossible for them to do so. This is at the center of the problem actually, most of us complain when men stare yet we make it impossible for them to do otherwise. Not all men are rapists, not all men are pigs either. What men are is the other half of the human equation. Without men we would quickly die out. We don’t have a rape culture, we have a sick culture brought about by our failure to recognize all these false definitions of masculinity and femininity send the wrong message. Women are one half of the human race, we are not gender neutral but instead specifically feminine and designed to be attractive to the other half.

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I am a woman. There are tens of thousands of us out here, we are I think being defined in terms we no longer understand and yet we refuse to stand up and call bullshit. We buy a package of goods that doesn’t feel right and yet we refuse to say it is wrong for fear we will be thrown out of the Woman’s Club. The Politically Correct definitions have gone so far now we are forced to accept lies and embrace them without raising voice of complaint. As an example, Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman so how in the hell are you going to award Woman of the Year twice to her? Are there not any accomplished women in the United States who are deserving of recognition and praise?

Yes, I will concede the ‘her’ to Caitlyn because I am polite and if she wishes to transition at the age of 66 from her born gender to female I am going to use her chosen gender. Nevertheless, Caitlyn is not a woman, she is in fact not even through her transition thus cannot even be legally called a woman. So why are any of us politely or otherwise accepting this insult?

On another note, why are we fighting so hard for the stupid? Why do you want your daughters in harm’s way, in combat positions?  We haven’t achieved parity in pay or secured our right to control our bodies, but we can now die in combat or worse be captured and only all the God’s know what will happen to a woman captured in battle.

I am a Feminist, but I am a woman first. I think it is time for all of us to think about what it means to be a woman. I frankly don’t want to be ‘man’ lite, but rather I want to be a woman able to stand on my own and with all the freedoms, rights and duties any of us are due. I want to work, contribute and provide within my competencies and capabilities as a woman, not in competition but in compliment.  Perhaps when we start seeing ourselves as one half of the population, start working from a position of power as women rather than begging for a seat at the table we will start to shift the focus and start standing up rather than simply complaining about the stupid shit.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html

http://www.representation2020.com/rankings.html

Comments

  1. Off topic – It’s been too long since I’ve been here 😦 …. but had to come back to wish you a Merry Christmas … and I imagine you will enjoy the day with family because I know they are important to you.

  2. “Why do you want your daughters in harm’s way, in combat positions?”

    I know! Right? Val, this is something I’ve always thought but it seemed too politically incorrect to say. So thank you for putting to words what has been on my mind. I mean, are you kidding me? Fight for the right to fight? Let the men fight and leave the women at home. It’s their war, anyway. If women were in charge I doubt very much we’d be having so many wars.

    • Yes, it is unlikely thought Monica there are women who are just as much Hawks as men. I am done with Political Correctness, I think it is time for us all to sort out the BS and start to say what is Right not what is correct, not what is easy on the ears.

  3. Another wonderful post Val.. and you make some very valid points..

    Val thank you for being such a friend.. and I send you love and hugs your way for wonderful family Christmas.. Many thanks for all of your support over at Dreamwalker’s

    Love Sue

  4. I have nominated you for the Grateful Blogger Award. Please pick up your award at: http://idealisticrebel.com/2015/12/22/grateful-blogger-award/ Namaste, Barbara

  5. Interesting and daring post. I’m so torn about Kaitlyn. On one hand, I think she has made it easier for other trans people to come out and be who they are, as well as making it more of a visible issue and bringing people out of the shadows.
    On the other hand, I feel like womanhood/femininity has been misconstrued and co-opted a little bit.
    I need to read your blog more often!

    • We have other trans people who I think have been out and visible and done a wonderful job. People in media, in the arts and people simply living their lives.

      Kaitlyn on the other hand, no. Wealth and infamy does not make you representative. I am not torn.

  6. Insert eye roll. Dear god Caitlyn/Bruce has done absolutely nothing for anyone except himself/herself…… he should be receiving the narcissists award if anything. Did Chaz Bono win man of the year? The world has gone to hell in a handbag if a woman can’t even win a “woman of the year award” for goodness sakes. Heavy sigh.

  7. Jenner is not a woman and as a matter of genitalia should have been excluded. As women, we should protest (and boycott) those who endorsed Jenner as “woman of the year”. Our dollars are the only voice we truly have. Advertising bends to our will, even if our government is still comprised of the azzhats in the picture above.

    Not voting to revoke your card. You seem to be wielding it with grace.
    xxx

  8. I don’t care what awards Jenner got as they are fairly meaningless to me. Transgender is real and I accept it through I don’t understand it still but am trying to learn more. My objection to Jenner was that he had all the money and support he needed while other transgender were struggling.and he/she was treated as a hero. And I resented the implication that to be a real woman one must look like Jenner. Where are the strong women? I am rattling, Val, but I am/was a feminist and fought for rights but I don’t see them appreciated today and sometimes women are going backward. We must vote!!!

    • I also accept transgender as real. I accept it as a third gender, I think that is likely the reality. What I don’t accept is the thousands of women who struggle to put food on the table, the thousands of women who stand up and survive rape, abuse and other terrible tragedies being ignored. What I don’t accept is that while a celebrity is ‘recognized’ as ‘woman’ of the year. No, I don’t accept that.

      You are right, we are taking steps back every single day without so much as a whimper because we fail to understand our power at the polls. We fail to understand we are the mothers who raise up the boys to men. We fail to understand we are 50% of the population yet continue to be less than 20% of voices in public office. We simply fail to stand up, in part because we continue to struggle to survive.

      We must stop accepting the crumbs. We must start using our voice to scream. I love being a woman, I love being all that being a woman entails. This doesn’t mean though I must take a backseat, it means I am powerful.

  9. I agree with you and Elyse. I think the transgender community should be pissed because Caitlyn has made their lives a freak show via reality TV. She has done a disservice to a very fragile community, and her version of what womanhood is, IMHO, a joke. Thanks for writing this. Thought-provoking and not being said in too many progressive places, but it needed to be said.

    • Thank you for your lovely and supportive words. This has been sitting on my heart for a while and I was frankly a bit afraid to throw it out there. My progressive feminism at war with my womanhood I guess. But I think women in all combat roles before they had equality of pay or control over their reproduction, well that set me off.

      Caitlyn, she is simply frosting on my chapped ass.

  10. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  11. Since I first started blogging, about 3 years ago, I have followed your journey through various issues. Sometimes darkly, others; energised and ready to face the issues. This post is just one example of you coming back out fighting. Good to see you back.

    There were local elections in Saudi Arabia today and the first in which women were allowed to stand as candidates and vote. Many people dismiss this a mere gesture. Well, if the males of that country fee they need to make gesture – then it’s game on, and progess may be made.

    • Yes indeed. Thus one of the links in this post which shows 95 countries, many of them Muslim majority with far greater women represented in their government than ours. Funny isn’t it?

  12. Funny that you bring up the trans topic today. Because today I had lunch with a dear friend whose 2nd born is a transsexual, who went from woman to man. I find the whole Caitlyn saga incredibly ridiculous. This is not the story of the majority of transgender folks and thus Caitlyn is a poor representative of women and of transgender folks. They don’t have millions and stylists and glamour wardrobes. He is the gender equivalent of Donald Trump as president.

  13. In the 1970s, Warren Farrell became the first man to attain full membership in the National Organization for Women. He didn’t join the women’s equality movement to patronize his female counterparts, but rather, for the practicality of it. But he wisely pointed out that women’s equality was good for men, too. Men shouldn’t be burdened with caring for women, as if the latter were helpless children. Women are perfectly capable of caring for themselves, just like men.

    Even today, though, I know of several men younger than me who are supporting their entire families; their wives just don’t work. And, while some women demand full equality with men in business and politics, they still insist on being placed in the same category as infants and children when it comes to their health and welfare. That’s just not going to work out well in the ongoing battle for women’s full equality. Farrell left NOW because he realized they were no longer advocating for equal rights, but special rights.

    It’s still a shame to realize the U.S. hasn’t yet elected a female president or even vice-president and that there are continuing right-wing assaults on women’s reproductive rights and barriers to equal pay scales. But we have to keep fighting for all that. It’d be too easy to give up and say we’ve accomplished as much as we can.

    • I think the point becomes each of us as individuals must be able to choose our path. Man or woman, we get to choose. How we live our lives, how we conduct our relationships these are choices. There are somethings that are gender specific, not special rights but instead directed by the fact we are women, things like maternity leave; women have babies for example.

      I am uncertain what you mean regarding women insisting on being placed in the same category as infants. I suppose I would need examples.

      • I’m certain you don’t place yourself in the same category as infants and children, Val, but I know other women do. The phrase “women and children” is still popular in the media. Whenever a large group of people are subjected to violence, I’ve often heard that term, e.g. “X-number of people have been killed, including women and children.” I’ve noticed, if only men and boys are killed, the media just reports it as “people.”

        When the 2010 Deep Water Horizon disaster occurred, all of the deceased were men; yet, the media kept referring to them only as “workers.” During the Central American conflicts of the 1980s, most of the victims were indigenous peoples, and the majority of them were men. The same thing happened with the Balkan wars of the 1990s. For years rumors had spilled out of Bosnia that there was a mass grave of men and boys. Then the grave of some 8,000 men and boys was discovered in Srebrenica. But the world didn’t seem to react with much horror. The same thing occurred with the 1994 Rwandan massacre where nearly 1 million people were butchered in less than a 4-month period. Again most of the victims were men and boys; in some cases, infant and toddler boys. As with Bosnia, no one outside the region seemed to notice, much less care.

        A more recent example is Syria where most of the violence has been directed towards men; yet, it’s the women and children who have received the most sympathy. Here in the U.S., there are battered women’s shelters that won’t admit even teenage boys who arrive with their mothers. While I’ve heard some women use the term “women and children,” I’ve heard others criticize it.

        • Ah, now I understand your reference. It is a part of our gender issue that remains prominent. While I continue to have issues with our political correctness, all of it. You are right, we still don’t have see these things through the proper prism, ever.

  14. Feminists, or women in general, who try to enforce the standard of behavior and thought to which all other women must adhere are only marginally better than men doing the same.
    And Caitlyn Jenner is no Woman of the Year. For one, she wasn’t even a woman for the entire year yet. And second, I don’t know what her achievement is supposed to be, because thousands of people had a sex change before Jenner did – and he wasn’t even the first celebrity to have the operation: I can think of Chelsea Manning (the Wikileaks soldier) and Chaz Bono.

    • Yet Caitlyn received two, not one but two, woman of the year awards.

      • I don’t understand that transgendered crap and find it odd – almost offensive – that they’ve forced themselves into the gay / lesbian / bi community. It’s bad enough some people think GLB folks are just gender-confused, which we’re not. Then the T gang comes into the picture and demands a piece of the equality pie. I know that sounds bigoted, but I’m responding to my own experiences in dealing with T people. It hasn’t been pleasant.

        As far as Caitlyn / Bruce / Ms. Thing Jenner is concerned, that’s an insult to real women who’ve had it truly rough their entire lives. My mother and other women of her age could tell him / her a thing or two about gender discrimination; in fact, more than a thing or two. Actual women like you, Val, and other female followers of your blog (as well as mine) have endured a lot with gender-based bigotry and oppression. Jenner has lived a rather scrumptious lifestyle, along with his / her screwed-up family.

      • Could this be an example of yet another guy (if former) taking yet another award that should have gone to a woman?

  15. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    #ILoveBeingAWoman ….. #Feminist …

  16. As always, you give us food for thought, Valentine. Gender differences often baffle me because I go against so many typically female stereotypes. I’m just me, you know? We all are who we are. We should not be considered any less or any more because of our parts.

    • But I’m know I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m sure you feel the same!

    • They often baffle me as well Carrie. I work in a male dominated environment, I enjoy it most of the time. I don’t try to hide my femaleness as many of my female colleagues do, but I take some grief for this.

      I think we have lost our vision sometimes

  17. I liked your essay. As a male “feminist” I agree with pretty much everything you have to say. Only one thing I would add. There is a very wide range of abilities, behaviors, beliefs, etc. within both genders. The stereotypes of men and women are simply “ideals” (in someone’s mind) and do not come close to recognizing the vast diversity within each gender.

    I hold doors open for women. But I also hold them open for men if I happen to be in that position.

    When I see things like “Man of the Year” or “Woman of the Year” my response is usually: Who cares? It doesn’t concern me that a handful of self-important entertainment industry folks (and the news has become an entertainment industry) decide to boost interest in their magazine or show by calling someone “special” this year. To me the real “Man of the Year” and “Woman of the Year” is always the same. The parents who hold two jobs to support their families. The woman who buys the cheap makeup because her kids need to eat. The man who doesn’t buy the ticket to the game because his kid needed new shoes. Etc.

    There are general, overreaching biological differences between genders. No doubt. But the range within each gender is great. Who is the “gentler” soul, Margaret Thatcher or Mohandas Gandhi? Who would you rather have babysit for your child, Carly Fiorina or Mr Rogers?

    On a final note. Both men and women should be encouraged to be who they are. In a society where gender roles are still the “media” ideal that is not always easy.

    • Well yes, however as our roles get defined by those who are not us, we lose sight of what is us. As we wander through a haze of confused hyper definitions, we haven’t gotten any closer to being able to function with some degree of equity across the table from one another.

      Woman of the Year? Sometimes it actually is important if it recognizes contributions that matter.

  18. I agree with you on nearly everything — except, I’d like to see our concepts of gender open up even more. I agree that Caitlyn Jenner is not really a woman but our definition of a woman today – but she is certainly not a man. I believe (like some other cultures) that there is actually a third gender that we have never made much room for in our culture. There are plenty of people with were born with who identify as female – and there are plenty of women who were born with vaginas who identify as male. Time to recognize the validity of a third gender. It would save so many lives!

    • I do not disagree with the third gender identify. I take huge issue with ignoring hundreds of women of accomplishment in favor of a man, as woman of the year. Sorry this offends many. Yet, while many struggle with transition, struggle with money as only the starting point Bruce / Caitlyn has the obvious advantage of being wealthy and famous, thus everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. I simply refuse to do so.

      • I feel the same way! I don’t get that 3rd gender identity crap either! There IS NO 3rd gender! A couple of years ago I read that Chaz Bono was shopping online for a penis. I’m like, ‘Excuse me?!’ You shop online for furniture – not genitalia. Trans people also seem to have this holier-than-thou attitude; they either portray themselves as victims or as heroic saviors of all humanity. They apparently believe, because they’ve transitioned from one gender to the other, they have this omniscient view of the world and have the answers to all of life’s mysteries.

        Years ago, when I was part of a local Toastmasters club, there was a guy who was then in the process of transitioning into a female. He’d been in the U.S. Army and was currently a nurse at Parkland. Part of his transition required him to start dressing and behaving as a female. So he started showing up to meetings in women’s attire. It was embarrassing because, on a few of those occasions, we had visitors; people who were attending various Toastmaster club meetings to see which one they might want to join. This T guy would sit there (and occasionally speak), and it was obvious he was a man dressed as a woman. I felt embarrassed for the gay / lesbian community as a whole, but I also felt it was an insult to women. A few others simply thought I was being judgmental and bigoted, but I didn’t care. I don’t do political correctness too well.

        Here’s another situation. There was a men’s leather contest in Dallas two years ago. (I know the leather community overall is considered freakish enough, but bear with me on this one.) Jeffrey Payne-Roy, the then-president of a local leather club, issued a statement that only biologically-born males would be allowed to enter the contest. Next thing anyone knew he started getting hate mail from all over, including actual death threats. There were even threats made against his pets! On Facebook of all places! He and his partner had to get Dallas police involved. Of course, that didn’t help much. As usual, police don’t do anything about threats until after someone is injured or killed. Keep in mind this was a freaking leather contest, not a race for mayor. Yet the trans community acted as if the zombie apocalypse had set up on us and they were out front coated in soy sauce. Ultimately Payne-Roy and his partner and their pets weren’t harmed, but they installed a security system in their home and remained out of sight for a while.

        I was even more angered when the Violence Against Women Act was expanded a few years ago to include trans women. I don’t know what compelled the government to extend special protection to the 5 or 6 trans women who are victims of hate crimes every year, while ignoring the thousands of men (straight, gay or bi) who suffer the same.

        • Oops, misread your response. I still don’t believe there’s such a thing as a third gender. If there is, what would it be called? I understand some people are born intersex, or as hermaphrodites. I know some individuals are born with more than two chromosomes. But the transgender movement has taken things to a completely different level.

        • I think the VAW was specific for its time, dealing primarily with an issue not fully understood but was terrible and needed to be addressed. Since its inception, I think we more fully understand abuse and that it crosses gender lines. The VAW is no longer a good piece of legislation, now it should simply be part of our legal process, domestic abuse is illegal; done.

          As a nation, we take things in pieces rather than as a whole. We do not understand how to legislate acts, instead we legislate for special interests. He who has the loudest voice at the time.

          • I agree with you both on the VAW – who cares the gender of the victim? Violence is violence. Same thing with hate crime laws – what the hell is the point of trying to root out the motivation of the assaulter? If somebody bashes in somebody else’s skull, the crime is the crime. I don’t care if the basher hated the bashee because of his skin color, his choice of sex partners or the shirt he was wearing.

            • Regarding “hate crimes”. I could be wrong but I think the reason behind hate crimes was this. Many localities and states were not prosecuting or were minimizing sentences on violent crimes against minorities. I think the feds stepped in and created “hate crimes” so these criminals could no longer be set free of murder charges by juries made up of their “peers” at the local level. Like the frequent hangings in Alabama and Mississippi of black men that would go unpunished under state and local laws. This enabled the feds to step in and charge those perpetrators with a federal offense.That is my guess.

            • That’s exactly my point about “hate” crimes! If someone physically attacks me because they want to rob me, how is that different from physically attacking me because I’m Hispanic? If a woman physically attacks me because I’m male and she hates all men, why should she be punished less than if a man attacks her? If a Black person attacks me because they hate White people, is that less of a crime if they attack me because they hate Hispanics? What if someone attacks me because they assume I’m an immigrant? I’m not, so does that mean the severity of the charge is diminished? Just sorting through all these scenarios makes my head hurt.

              It’s already against the law to physically attack someone, so a special “hate” crime statute doesn’t add anything different. It just segregates everyone and tries to place a moral value on their lives.

              • I answered the Hate Crime issue once already, Joseph has as well.

                As a victim of a Racial Hate Crime, there is a special level of violence and a need for response to these crimes in our society at this juncture.

            • I guess Peg, as a victim of a Hate Crime I have a bit different perspective on Hate Crimes. There is a very ugly part the motivation when it is specific only to Race, Religion or Sexual Orientation which is in general what Hate Crimes cover.

              There is something terrible when you are a victim only because of something so impersonal. There is something horrifying that permeates entire families and societies.

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