Five Things Feminism Has Taught Me
In case you don't know, there is a "tag" thread going around in response to the Harper government's decision to cut funding for, inter alia, projects such as the Status of Women Canada. The concept behind it is:
"A new tag game about “five things feminism has done for me” is going around the net. The purpose of the game is to raise awareness against federal conserative efforts of eliminating the status of women commission."
I had a feeling this would make its way to me eventually, and I'm glad it has because I was doing some preemptive thinking on the subject.
1. It has allowed me to more fully understand where my girlfriend is coming from on a lot of the topics we have discussed, both within and without our relationship. This has allowed our relationship to grow deeper and stronger than I could have ever imagined. Feminism plays a major role in our lives, covering everything from what we watch (and what we don't watch) on TV, where we go to enjoy ourselves (hint: not the bar), the things we talk about, and the way we tackle things together.
2. It has opened my eyes to the negative effects that certain of my past behaviours have had on myself and the people around me. I've grown up and matured considerably because of feminism. Interesting note: I put on AC/DC's Back In Black album today and actually ended up taking it out in disgust after listening to "Give the Dog a Bone." It's been quite a while since I've given any AC/DC a listen, and it may turn out to be a while until I do it again. Because of feminism and the large amount of feminist literature I've consumed, I am regularly thinking of ways in which I, as a man, can help the feminist cause and improve conditions in our society. That was the impetus behind the paper I wrote and sent to the Minister of Justice. It's why I from time to time talk to other guys and confront them about their misogyny. I've found that quite often people are not truly thinking about their actions and thus not taking into consideration the consequences. An issue such as pornography is one that I've spent considerable time railing against other guys for, either because of their active use in it or their laissez-faire attitude towards something that greatly harms women, not only the actual women in pornography but the women in the day-to-day lives of the men who are consuming it. Tasha & I were discussing last night the twin problems of ignorance and stupidity when it comes to a lot of feminist issues. People largely don't know or don't think about how pornography comes to be, and I've heard the tired line so many times that "oh they choose to do it!" that it really infuriates me, because those who use porn and rely on that defence are displaying either ignorance or a lack of compassion for their fellow people. For these people, their instant gratification is on such a high pedestal that all other considerations simply fade away. Feminism has taught me how to be more other-regarding and led me to try to help others to see the deleterious effects of their selfish actions.
3. Feminism has taught me that there are a very large number of men who will go to great lengths to "put women in their place" and deliberately hold them down from achieving and honestly celebrating their true potential. All one needs to do is look at the way Playboy "celebrates" the achievements of Olympic athletes, businesswomen, and other women by reducing them to naked pieces of flesh to be ogled and then discarded. I have much contempt for Hefner for creating a fantasy world that far too many men buy into without the slightest thought for the consquences.
4. Feminism has taught me that there are a large number of women who, through a combination of their own experiences and those of other women, believe that they are somehow held as less valuable to men unless they conform to the Hefnerized "ideal woman." Feminism has also taught me about how men exert undue pressure on women to conform. The manner in which truly exceptional radical feminists are gathering and "outing" this day-to-day oppression is an amazing sight to behold. Visit sites such as Genderberg, One Angry Girl, Den of the Biting Beaver, and so many others, and you will see that women see through the bullshit societal construct that has been erected and are actively putting out the word pertaining to how to bring it down and make our society a little more equal and just.
5. Lastly, feminism has taught me more about compassion. Feminism has been manipulated and abused by both men and women to make it either more demonized or more acceptable to men. A case in point of this would be the show Sex and the City, or the manner in which the word "empowerment" is so horribly misused by women with privelige who are working in "industries" in which the overwhelming majority of their peers do not even come close to that level. The objective of actual feminists, not the pseudo-feminists in the Pussycat Dolls videos or Carrie Bradshaw, is very simple: to be treated as equal human beings. That means, among many other things: being able to go out at night without the fear of being raped; being able to stand in line at the grocery store without some random guy visually undressing them and thinking of all the things he wants to do to them; being paid the same amount for the same job as a man; not being held to any number of double standards; not having to work twice as hard to get the same recognition and credibility; being taken seriously as a person despite having breasts; and, being loved for the person that they are, not what they look like. When you think about it, these are all very common-sense ideas that, let's face it, should not have to be issues in a country such as Canada in the 21st century. For all of our claims of progress over the past two centuries, clearly we still have a long way to go when it comes to the very basic essential manners which we demonstrate towards one another. Feminism has helped me to care about not just the woman (and women) in my life, but about all women. When I hear that 1 in 2 women in Canada will at some point in their lives be the victims of violence at the hands of men (a stat that comes from Status of Women Canada), it makes me truly sad and wonder how we--meaning, men--can be so cruel towards people that we claim to love and respect. It makes me want to make a difference.
And that's my answers.