Saturday, August 24, 2013

Some women aren't helping.

I've written a couple of blog posts on feminist issues lately, but I'd like to point out that if you were sitting there reading them and thinking, "Yeah! Men are hella messed up!" then you're missing the point. I think that I was pretty clear in my view that when it comes to gender issues, it's women who are being treated unfairly. (On nearly every issue, there are exceptions - like child custody battles, for instance.) However, I feel the need to point out that it's not simply a matter of men oppressing women. You shouldn't even look at it as a "man versus woman" issue. It's a "society versus women" problem. Since men are mostly the ones with power in this world, much of the blame lies at their feet. However, I'd say that when it comes to feminism, there are some men who are helping the cause and some women who are hurting it.

Hopefully I'm not too off-base with this, and I hope that if I am somebody will chime in and correct me. However, these are some of the issues where I think that women could do more to help their situation. Of course, I must note that when it comes to this stuff, I'm not pointing the blame at all women, and in some cases there are men who are equally guilty.

1. Embrace the word "feminist". - I wrote a while ago about how you have people who will say things like, "I don't believe in God, but I'm not an atheist." They avoid the word because of all the baggage that it supposedly contains, but I tried to make the point that when you avoid using a word, especially a word that accurately describes you, then you're contributing to that word's supposed "baggage".

The same goes for the word "feminist". Think that women should be treated equally? Congratulations, you're a feminist. And yes, I think that men need to do this as well, but when you have some prominent female celebrities like Taylor Swift and several others claiming that they're "not feminists", we have a problem. I think that Ellen "Shadowcat" Page said it best, " could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?"

2.  Don't feed the beast. - My last blog dealt with how men contribute to the problem of women's self-esteem when it comes to body issues. I was glad to see that several women liked what I had to say, but I also hope that when it comes to this, there are a lot of women who exacerbate the problem. Don't believe me? Just pay attention to the magazine rack the next time you're in the grocery store. For Pete's sakes, I saw one that had the front page advertising an article about how they were going to show the "worst celebrity beach bodies". In other words, it was all about how those fat people are gross and how dare they be fat on the beach?

Is there probably some man who's raking in the bucks when these magazines sell? Yes. Are there some men who read these? I suppose, but let's be honest - they're not the target audience. What would happen if women stopped buying these? They'd go out of business, that's what.

And even some of the higher-end magazines aren't much better. Pretty much every one of them has something about diet secrets, diet tips, or something along those lines. That's fine for Shape magazine, but maybe if women stopped buying magazines that told them that they were too fat, they wouldn't feel like they were too fat.

3. Don't be just as bad. - I was reading a story about a woman who plays drums. She was relating a story about how when she stepped up to play with a bunch of guys, they assumed that she couldn't hack it for the simple fact that she was a she. Obviously, those guys are dumbass douchebags. Below, in the comments, one of her friends commented that "Men are so stupid."

See, this kind of thing doesn't help. I'm not trying to say that comments like that are hurting men as much as this woman was hurt by people making assumptions about her. But if you want people to take you seriously and give you respect, then you have to be willing to give them the same courtesy. If the comment was "Some men are so stupid" or "Those men were so stupid" then I would have totally agreed. Instead, I had to think, "That woman is kinda stupid." (The one who made the comment, obviously.)

4. Don't let other women assume things about you. - I know that some women are going to be happy for me saying this, but NEWSFLASH: not all women believe in astrology and want to hear about your stupid sign. Again, I'm generalizing here, as there are men who believe in this stuff too. However, I have heard several stories from women who have had to listen to other women drone on about how they're Capricorns and are therefore imbeciles or whatever the hell. In almost every case, the woman told me that she just played along, pretending like what she was listening to wasn't the most asinine thing she ever heard.

Screw that noise, ladies! If you embrace rationalism, let people know! It's okay for you to say, "I don't believe in that stuff." Playing along with that kind of nonsense just perpetuates that stereotype, and I've known far too many intelligent women to believe that all of them give a crap about when the moon is going to be rising up your butt.

I realize that this is oddly specific, but I just really hate astrology. We can add all kinds of things to this category. For instance, did you know that there are actually some women who DON'T like going shopping? Egads! It's true! I married one!

5. If you're not letting a guy know how smart you really are so he won't dump you, then he's not worth it. There are plenty of great guys who have no problem with women being as smart, or smarter, than them. - 'Nuff said.

6. Expect better from movies aimed at you. - If the theme of the movie is that there's something wrong with a woman because she doesn't have a boyfriend/husband, then this is not a "chick flick". It's an "insult to chicks flick".

So, that's what I got. I realize that as a man, I'm really opening myself up to some criticism here. There's even something somewhat obnoxious about a man saying, "Hey ladies, here's why you're screwing up feminism!" I'm sure that there are plenty of women out there who don't need me telling them this stuff, and if anything, there's a lot of stuff that they can tell me. In those cases, I should shut up and listen.

Still, somebody's buying those magazines and dragging their husbands to see those movies. Not my wife, nor most of the women I know, but I don't think it's all a bunch of men in drag.


Sophia said...

Well, let's keep in mind that it's 1am after a day of toddler-chasing and house-guest-entertaining, but it all sounds good to me, Lance. And I'm a card-carrying feminist, thank you very much.

Oh, and I'm guilty of the smiling and nodding when someone starts expounding on astrology. Not so much on handbags, shoes, shopping, or any of those subjects, but I have an inhibition about challenging someone's spiritual beliefs. Also, I think horoscopes can be fun, so I guess they don't irk me as badly as they do you. :)

Lance Johnson said...

Well, you can say that their beliefs aren't yours without challenging them, ya know.