“Why is burning the bra the ultimate image of the radical subversion of the male-dominated order? Because unbound breasts show their fluid and changing shape; they do not remain the firm and stable objects that phallocentric fetishism desires. Because unbound breasts make a mockery of the ideal of a ‘perfect’ breast. The bra normalises the breasts, lifting and curving the breasts to approximate the one and only breast ideal”
- Iris Young 1992 ‘Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling’ in D. Leder (ed) The Body in Medical Thought and Practice pp.215-230
“It is a central tenet of feminism that women’s invisible private wounds often reflect social and political injustices. It is a commitment central to feminism to share burdens. And it is an axiom of feminism that the personal is political”
- Nancy Datan 1989 (In Crawford and Gentry eds. p.175)
You know when something you read just...yeah.
Can I put just this under the heading ‘rationale’ in my thesis please?
A short, not very well thought out, rant:
I have only this year properly come into contact with men’s rights activism and one thing above all strikes me about it:
it’s not about men’s rights, it’s anti-women’s rights.
I may have a biased view since I have a limited knowledge of it but from what I’ve seen this seems to ring true. And I think the problem is that feminism is interpreted wrong. Feminism isn’t about being anti-men. It’s about helping women to have the same freedom and choices that men have. In fact, it’s about helping everyone of all genders, even men, to be liberated and free from the pressures of life in a society dominated by restricted views of what is expected from men and women.
I definitely sympathise with some aims of men’s rights such as fairness in divorce and custody cases etc but why not work with feminists on so many issues which affect all genders? Instead of getting angry about individual women who behave badly (which seems to make up most of the r/mensrights subreddit) and instead discuss the ways that men are kept down by society, not other women. There’s no sense in lashing out at women who are equally or more oppressed by society, we should be discussing the ways that we can make changes which improve the lives of everyone!
Here’s a roundup of the sexism I’ve encountered today! Happy times…
First, a tradesman who was fixing the TV for the flat next door and came to use my TV to check the channels called me ‘sweetheart’. TWICE. Dude, I’m not your sweetheart. Calling me that tells me how you think I should be: sweet, cute, lovely, innocent etc etc. And I am not them. Okay well I am sometimes but not to strangers!
Then I went shopping. Oh yes.
I stand in HMV and stared at the front covers of DVDs, noticing how the men were usually posed looking straight at the camera, often with their arms crossed or showing some other sign of power; the women are usually posed looking away from the camera, at the man, or even with their eyes closed. Sometimes they sit with their legs open in a provocotive manner. Sometimes in a submissive position, inviting. Sometimes they sat in a childlike pose. I sigh and move on.
In a shop called ‘Menkind’ I come across this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jokes-Blokes-Ultimate-Suitable-Company/dp/0091940443/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323798418&sr=1-1
It should be renamed ‘Jokes for Sexists’ because I only open 1 page and read 6 jokes, none of which were funny and all of which were sexist. Actually, it should be renamed ‘Jokes for sexists without an ounce of humour’.
Walking home a guy in his 60’s says to me in the street “Oi oi love, you cold?” I’m not your love and yes I’m cold you absolute arsetwat.
Oh, and this morning I read this disgusting post on reddit: http://i.imgur.com/s3UUT.png
And this blog: http://transgendertropes.wordpress.com/
What an awesome day for all genders!
On Saturday I attended FEM11 - a conference organised by UKFeminista. The day for me was a curious mix of heat exhaustion (dam no air conditioning) and the rush of adrenaline you get when 1000 like-minded people all woop, cheer and clap the exact same things you too want to woop cheer and clap. It’s the same feeling I get when at a gig stood in the middle of a crowd all singing along to a song I love. It’s a feeling of being part of something bigger, reaching out and being reached out to. It’s a very human, and very social, feeling to experience. At least I think so. Bliss.
Kat Banyard, co-founder of UKFeminista, kickstarted the day with a very rousing speech about the future of feminism. She’ll go far that girl. This was followed by some excitable young feminists sporting huge merkins (is that a word we use anymore?) over their crotches urging us to attend a ‘muff march’ in December against the proliferation of cosmetic labiaplasty. Then came Sandi Toskvig. Sandi is so intelligent and witty and her talk began so promisingly. She drew on children’s books, discussing the sexism inherent in them and then turned to the history of literature, suggesting the very act of committing words to paper is sexist. I can definitely see her argument. Writing stories down and orally retelling them are very different acts with different consequences. And her point that once the Bible was written, Jesus’s teaching took on a sexist, androcentric tone and women began to be excluded from the public sphere is valid I think. Sandi then discussed our brains. She stated that the brains of men and women are inherently different - explaining why men and women are adept at different things. Literary skills, Sandi said, are found concentrated on one particular side of the brain - the ‘masculine’ side which is enlarged in men. While the oral telling of stories is found in the other, ‘feminine’ side of the brain, enlarged in women. This is all very interesting, but I wish Sandi had just taken one step back. Is she suggesting our brains are already separated into male and female at birth? Is this a difference that exists before socialisation? Sandi didn’t address this and this left us feeling that this is indeed what she thinks. However, this poses a problem: essentialising. If we argue that men and women are biologically different, and that socialisation and sexism reflects this then we are saying something wholly different to what I would argue. Which is that we are born with the same brains but they change through socialisation. Girls are taught to be vocal about emotions, to talk, while little boys are told to go outside and play and to keep their feelings and emotions to themselves. This division is social, I would argue, there is no biological basis for it. And while differences may be displayed in our brains, this is because the brain is like a muscle, and certain parts of it are exercised more depending on which ‘sex’ we are assigned.
I did enjoy Sandi’s talk though, and I liked her idea that women and men see the world differently. Up until now, the ‘female’ way of seeing the world has been viewed as inferior and weak and that this privileging of masculinity over femininity has essentially caused many of the world’s problems. Men have been in positions of power for thousands of years. They have led people into war, they have raped and pillaged lands, and the ownership of power and money over others has become of highest importance. It can be argued that if we were to stop and listen to women we might learn a new way of looking at our world.
In an essay I wrote in the final year of my degree I argued that feminism has something to bring to the environmental movement which cannot be found in more ‘masculine’ approaches utilised by organisations such as Greenpeace. My lecturer (a male environmentalist) disagreed with me and tried to steer me away from that argument but I wrote the essay anyway and got a fairly good grade on it! I won’t go into details in this, my first blog post, - it’s already a bloody novel, but I do think this argument could be applied to other movements such as the anti-capitalist movement, and should be considered when attempting to get more women into politics.
Women look at the world differently - not because we have vaginas instead of penises, but because the gender binary within which we are socialised leads us to a different viewpoint. We have different experiences, different values and priorities, even different problem-solving methods. These perspectives are valuable. Masculinity has had its turn and look where we are. Now the world is ripe for a change - perhaps a ‘feminine’ turn in politics would bring up some solutions to our many, many problems.