29 September 2006

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.


Jason Bo Green said...

I was actually really, really shocked no one had tagged you.

I didn't tag anyone at all, I hate to pass on chain letters, until I realized I hadn't seen your name on anyone's list - considering your huge interest in feminism, you seem like a natural choice for anyone.

Ummm, I've never listened to AC/DC... I would have just assumed from the title you mention it was about giving a canine a porcine femur or something... I guess not. I'm pretty wimpy in my music choice.

Anyway, terrific post, sport.

RGM said...

Thanks for tagging me, man, it allowed me to focus some thoughts that I've had swimming in my head for a while now regarding my interest in feminism. It's something about which I still have much to learn, but is definitely something I see myself pursuing as more than a topic of passing interest.

Anonymous said...

I think this post was above all others that I have read about "five things feminism has done for me". You captured almost everything there is to capture. I read a couple of blogs both by males and females that manipulate the true meaning of feminism. They all need to read your post to understand what feminism is and what feminism is not.

Thanks for sharing your views on the net. It was very enlighening.

Chuckercanuck said...

I didn't tag anyone because I'm lazy and self=centered, but I did come here a put pressure on RGM to see what he'd say.

Not surprised! I've read your thinking on this before so I thought we'd get something fairly thoughtful, empassioned and interesting for a guy who is more in the Harper camp than most!

Its funny, I love David Lynch, but I can't ignore getting a little upset when he pushes the limit from necessary sex to gratuitous, which he does.

RGM said...

Thanks very much for the kind words. Feminism is a dividing topic for many, which it really shouldn't be given its core values. When I read articles by Barbara Kay in the National Post I almost cringe at the caricature she paints of feminism. When I read about young women talking about how "empowering" it is to take a strip-aerobics class, I cringe even worse. There is such a wealth of strong, legitimate feminist literature available on the 'Net, and it is very enriching material for both women and men. The links on my sidebar are but what I consider to be among the best.

Chucker, thanks also. The cutting of SWC funding is the first thing that Harper has done which rubs me the wrong way, and I've been fairly disappointing with the way some have reacted in favour of the cuts. To deny the utility of SWC implies that we've achieved gender equality, and that's simply not the reality on the ground. But I still think he's pretty nice and will likely get my support in the next election.
There's an argument to be made that *any* sex in films is unnecessary and contributes to the problems that feminism seeks to redress. After all, there aren't copious amounts of naked dudes in movies, and the moment a penis appears the film is automatically rated X or NC-17. But full female nudity only gets an R, because the (male) big whigs who decide these things have decided that naked women are more acceptable to stare at. But that's a whole other story that I may come back to at a later date.

Thanks again to both of you for the comments, they've helped make my morning.

Anonymous said...

RGM, you are welcome. I just wish everyone had your insight about feminism.

C. LaRoche said...

Richard: I've got a more serious comment on your post in the works, but for now, my only advice for you is to appreciate AC/DC for the aesthetic and the riffs, and NOT the lyrics. Lyric-wise, AC/DC is about as chauvenist (and moronic) as you're likely to find.


"There's an argument to be made that *any* sex in films is unnecessary and contributes to the problems that feminism seeks to redress. After all, there aren't copious amounts of naked dudes in movies, and the moment a penis appears the film is automatically rated X or NC-17. But full female nudity only gets an R, because the (male) big whigs who decide these things have decided that naked women are more acceptable to stare at. But that's a whole other story that I may come back to at a later date."

I agree and disagree. Certainly it is a bit bizarre that female nudity garners a worse 'punishment' (since ratings are often seen as punishments by filmmakers) than does male nudity (although, to be honest, from a purely aesthetic point of view, female genitals are not external and thus one could say that from a biological standpoint the ratings disparity is defensible... of course, ratings are not intended to reflect biology, but social standards. So your point holds).

I don't, however, think that an argument can be made that all sex in all film is unessecary. From an artistic standpoint (and film is unequivocally an art, NOT entertainment), sex often plays a central role in character development, plot development, and the exposition of a film (much as it would in a dramatic novel). In a GOOD film, sex will show something happening between two characters that is integral to the plot -- it won't be there as "pornography."

To respond to chuckercanuck, David Lynch (from what I've seen from him) is quite adept at making a gratuitous sex scene fill an essential element in how he paints his characters. Take Mullholand Drive, for example; there are a number of lesbian sex scenes. And, to be frank, they turned me on. Aside from this, however, the sex scenes didn't "demean" either actor -- they served to further elaborate the growing relationship between two of the characters, a relationship that form the entire plot of the movie.

In fact, many would argue that the fact we CAN'T show sex scenes in movies without them being labelled as 'gratuitous' is more indicative of problems in society than the opposite. A nude body should not always imply exploitation, subjugation, or anti-feminist discourse. Sex is, in fact, completely natural, and so is nudity. We simply happen to wear clothes, mostly due to climate, and so when we see nudity, it is relegated to this "objectification" field that feminists so vehemently hate. Unfortunately, the amount of nudity out there isn't the problem -- it is how it is used. In fact, I might even go so far as to argue that the more you censor the nude body, the worse the objectification problem will get.

Carrie said...

Meh... AC/DC really isn't the greatest band in the world...

I'm truly glad to read this. Then it tells me that there really are a few good men out there left (Nathan just so happens to be one of them too-- that could partially be the reason that I'm with him!!)that don't just see us as toys and whatnot.

It's really not a great feeling when guys have to come up to you and lay on the 'Oh my god you're twins... Would you ever do _____ with each other??" kind of thing.

If I hear it again, I won't be afraid to lay the smack down on somebody :P

1 in 2 women will be subject to some sort of violence in their lifetime

That made my stomach turn just having to read that. And that makes me truly sad to even hear something like that.


Much love---> And see you in 16 days!!! :D

RGM said...

Please tell me that you and Susie have never had to deal with that type of question...and moreover, let it be truth.

Carrie said...

Yes. Susie and I have heard that kind of shit a few times...