Sunday, May 20, 2012

Responses for Thickpenny

My pal Amanda Thickpenny is conducting a study and asked me to participate. Below are her questions and my responses:

Q. Do you identify as a Feminist, why or why not?

I do identify as a feminist - because a feminist is in favor of equal rights for women. What kind of person is against equal rights?

Q. Do you think that women are guilty of being sexist towards other women?  Please give an example.

Yes, because many women have internalized culture-based misogyny. There are so many examples of sexism by regular women, especially Republican women, and there are some women who have made a career out of bashing feminism and women in general, for example:

Katie Roiphe


Caitlin Flanagan

Q. Do you think that women are guilty of being sexist towards men?  Please give an example.

Yes - anybody who buys into the whole Mars/Venus gender essentialism is not only sexist towards women but also men.

However, a most egregious example of cross-gender bigotry against men is the widespread cultural belief that prison rape is funny - if it's men being raped by other men.

Q. Why do you think current state governments are clamping down on reproductive rights?

It's part of the current Republican far right-ward tilt.

 Q. Why now in 2012?

The ascendancy of the Tea Party, a mostly astro-turf organization created by David Koch and friends which exploits social-conservative sentiments to help push fiscal-conservative goals - and of course the personal enrichment of Koch & company.

Q. Do you think that Feminism has changed since the 1970's - for better or worse?

I'm not sure how "feminism" is defined here - if the definition is the quest for equal rights for women then I don't think there's been a change in feminism.

Although I do think there is still much work to be done, I wonder sometimes if some of the despair over women not having achieved equality yet is the result of lack of historical perspective. After all, extreme patriarchy has been the rule for thousands of years. Women in the US have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. (In Switzerland women got the vote in 1971.)

And only in the last 50 years have women been able to be self-supporting (at least in developed countries), thanks to previously "men-only" jobs opening up for women, as well as equal-pay laws. The fact that perfect equality has not been achieved in a mere half-century, after millenia of female dependence should not be taken as a sign that feminism has "failed" but rather as a sign that feminism's time has arrived.

Bonus response - one of my favorite musical numbers: