I want to be politically correct, so here are some trigger warnings: I talk about rape, rape culture, sexism and feminism (obviously in the title). I don’t know how to properly cite trigger warnings, but I’m doing my best. There’s some mild language scattered, but this isn’t like profanity-central or anything.
Long overdue… I kind of wanted to ease into this topic with consent, chivalry and all that jazz because feminism means a lot to me. (I go more in-depth with rape, rape culture and gender roles in this post.) Think of this as semi-formal blabber-tangent-sort-of-essay that was written mostly to share my beliefs on feminism and why feminism is one of my favorite subcategories of the belief in equal rights for all human beings.
There’s very few things that I can go on and on about: one being alternative music and the other is feminism. I know I will look like this:
but bear with me here.
My favorite “definition” of what a feminist is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, “feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” (This along with a portion of her Ted talk was featured in Beyoncé’s ***Flawless.) Adichie’s Ted talk:
I like what she thinks a feminist is, but I do want to say something about the differences between sex and gender. The World Health Organization does an amazing job with this:
Gender Spectrum does a more in-depth coverage of gender. (Must read in order to fully understand what I’m trying to say.)
First thing I want to address is the notion that all feminists hate men.
Simply put, there are radicals to every movement. Don’t confuse misandry and feminism. Also, feminism isn’t taking away a man’s power. It’s about establishing equality so that both men and women can make wise, conscious decisions together.
G.D. Anderson, when asked why the protagonist of her book was male when she was a feminist, said, “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” I support this statement wholeheartedly.
But sometimes femininity is often perceived as a burden–too delicate to get things done. The reason why women are seen as delicate is because the way the patriarchy has manipulated women into becoming a weaker, more fragile version of themselves.
A Work of Artifice by Marge Piercy:
The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
the gardener croons,
It is your nature
to be small and cozy,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.
This poem compares the tiny bonsai tree to a woman and how the gardener has carefully pruned the branches of the tree so that it would remain tiny and fragile when it could be something bigger and stronger. You can sense the irony within the poem when Piercy describes the great potential the bonsai tree has and then says it is in the plant’s nature to be small and cozy, domestic and weak; the domestic and weak part obviously referring to a woman. The pot refers to the patriarchy in which a woman must grow up in. She references the Chinese tradition of boarding the girls’ feet so that they remained so curled and tiny that they can’t walk on their feet without someone’s help (both literally and metaphorically speaking.) because small feet were considered beautiful; the crippled brain referring to the way women are educated in this world–the focus being on young men and how young men can benefit society; the hair in curlers referring to the outrageous standards of beauty imposed by men and the media; and the hands you love to touch referring to the hands of a man who are so familiarized by women as the only sense of safety a woman can have.
Now I absolutely hate gender roles. I have for a long time–ever since I was an 8-year-old girl whose parents only made their daughter wash the dishes. (I have very “traditional” parents–I’m a first generation Chinese-American.) I don’t know if it was morality or laziness, but I’m glad I stood up for myself. I used to always ask my mom, “Why do I have to always wash the dishes? Why do you always have to wash the dishes?” It wasn’t a matter of chores. It was me wondering why my older brother was allowed to do whatever he wanted, but I had to do the dishes, help with laundry, sweep the floor and your standard products from the cult of domestication. It was me wondering why my mother always washed the dishes, and why my mom had to thank my dad for doing them when he did. It was me wondering why my mom had to take care of the kids after work when my dad could sit in front of the television and relax. I didn’t know what gender roles where when I was 8, but every single time I’d ask my parents why I had to do the dishes and not my brother, their answer was, “Because you’re a girl.” And 8-year-old me thought that was the worst reason ever. And almost 8 years later, I still think that’s the worst reason ever.
When I say I hate gender roles, I mean all of them. It’s that expectation versus reality that disappoints everyone. Men cannot keep holding the standard of paying for dinner, buying expensive jewelry, opening the door all the time, etc. And I, as an unskilled female, cannot be expected to cook and clean because the prepared-foods section at Whole Foods is my best friend and well, for someone who quite enjoys the aesthetics of minimalism, you should see my room. Chivalry is doing more bad than good; it contributes to male entitlement/rape culture. (More on that later.) You can’t want to be both on a pedestal and equal with another person, unless you’re both on the pedestal. How happy would a guy be if you got him an engagement ring too? Men and women are confined to boxes where they have to be this and have to be that–
Also, with societal gender roles, femininity is immediately assigned to women and masculinity is assigned to men, and that should just be stopped. Like, forever. Here’s one of my favorite videos about femininity and masculinity and the way femininity is viewed even in the gay community:
Here’s another misconception about feminism: you can’t be a housewife AND a feminist. You can, in fact, be both a housewife and a feminist, but staying at home and taking good care of your children should be your choice. Becoming a housewife as your own choice, regardless of gender roles and regardless of what men in power want you to do, is what feminism is about anyways.
Shaving. “All feminists have hairy armpits.” You can still be a feminist and shave, but shaving your body hair isn’t feminist in itself. People always say, “it’s my choice to shave,” for this one, but not really. The reason why most women do shave is not because they don’t like their body hair, but because the patriarchy has imposed the standard that all women are more attractive without body hair. People look at you funny if you’re a female with body hair–it’s not deemed socially acceptable to be a female with hairy legs. Now, I hate shaving: it’s time-consuming and the hair eventually grows back. I’ll admit that I shave my legs, and sure it’s my choice to shave my legs, but the choice is influenced by the patriarchy’s views on body hair, even my own choice has some level of biased. I feel like at the same time when I don’t shave my legs (eg. when it’s colder out, and I’m not wearing shorts), it’s me, like, sticking it out to the Man. I’m glad that my morality and laziness together defeat gender roles.
Seriously though, equal pay for equal work. I just don’t understand why people don’t get equal pay for the same job. I know that in some instances, a person doesn’t do a good job, and those are the cases where they don’t deserve equal pay for equal work… because it’s not equal work. But when a woman is doing a good job and a man is doing a good job, why does the man benefit more? If we lived in a society where sexism, gender roles, misogyny/misandry didn’t exist, what would a man quite possibly need that required him to make more money than a woman?
“Because you’re a girl.” It just sounds bad. My 50-50 chance of being a boy or a girl at conception shouldn’t be the reason why I am constantly looked down on. I hate that I have to talk to guys a certain way, and if our conversation includes laughter or smiles, it’s not because I am their friend; it’s because I’m attracted to that guy, making passes at or flirting with him. This happens to me all the time in class, and I hate that I can’t have a normal conversation with the opposite sex without people assuming that I want to marry them or something. Believe me, people are so immature once someone smiles at you, it means they “like-like” you.
A thing that absolutely bothers me that I hear pretty much everyday is people slut shaming girls. Guys are seen as players and studs when they have multiple partners–these words have more positive connotations attached, while girls are seen as sluts, whores, etc, all having negative connotations attached. DOUBLE STANDARDS ARE THE WORST. Why do men get to act a certain way and be praised, and when women do it people go around shaming her? It is none of your business how sexually active a human being is. If you want to have one sexual partner your entire life, then that’s fine. If you want to have ten sexual partners your entire life, then that’s fine too. It is not for you to decide and judge who is a “prude” and who is a “slut.”
Girls are especially judgemental when it comes to the number of sexual partners in correlation to the way you dress. You would think first hand that a girl knows how horrible it is to be called a slut for wearing a tank top and shorts. The clothing you wear has nothing to do with how many sexual partners you have or with your welcome to sexual advancements. (More on this later.)
I also hate that my parents constantly worry about me when I’m with my friends past 9 pm. They tell me, “Be careful!” They never tell my brother to be careful because they know that things like rape are less likely to happen to him. It’s because everyone else is teaching their daughters, “Be careful! Don’t get raped. ” Parents and even teachers never teach kids “Don’t rape.”
That’s the problem, parents and educators are teaching the wrong thing. It would be so much smarter to teach kids not to rape. Girls wouldn’t have to do so many precautionary things to ensure their well-being and safety. Girls wouldn’t have to feel unsafe alone or at night or even walking on the side of the road without getting catcalled. (More on catcalling later.)
You can tell the way the education system feels about girls. Girls are taught to cover up in school. We get dress coded and assigned a detention if we wear a tank top with straps too thin, dresses too tight or shorts that are deemed too short. Now, I understand that it’s not appropriate to wear club-wear to a funeral, but shorts and tank tops are part of casual wear–it’s not a wrong occasion to wear them to school when it’s warm outside. But wait… Is it because the precious future leaders of America might become distracted by the taunts of the female sex’s exposed shoulders or legs? Is it because you don’t believe that the future leaders of America can be women? (Seriously though, the only time I’ve heard of a guy being dressed coded is because he was wearing a tank top with his flabby arms exposed to the world.)
This is an excerpt from Arthur Chu’s The DailyBeast article “Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds:”
How much longer are we going to be in denial that there’s a thing called “rape culture” and we ought to do something about it?
No, not the straw man that all men are constantly plotting rape, but that we live in an entitlement culture where guys think they need to be having sex with girls in order to be happy and fulfilled. That in a culture that constantly celebrates the narrative of guys trying hard, overcoming challenges, concocting clever ruses and automatically getting a woman thrown at them as a prize as a result, there will always be some guy who crosses the line into committing a violent crime to get what he “deserves,” or get vengeance for being denied it.
Rape culture does exist. And it flourishes in this day and age like poison in a garden. Rape is masked as the norm when it shouldn’t be. (Here’s another thing: rape can happen to men. Including the “too” would take women out of the equation. The following is more focused on the rape of women, just because the way women are actually viewed as victims is a huge factor in why I am such a feminist.)
Schrödinger’s Rapist is the thought process a woman goes through when she sees a man or men that are complete strangers. It’s not saying that all men are rapists; it’s a precautionary “all men have the potential to be a rapist because I do not know them.”
You say not all men are monsters?
Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned.
Go ahead. Eat a handful.
Not all M&Ms are poison.
It’s pretty much registering body language, attire, tattoos, etc to instinctively determine how safe, trustworthy, non-rapey a male stranger is. The mere fact that Schrödinger’s Rapist exists shows you the way girls are taught to grow up; “Be careful!”
- Expect rape. (The statistics say 1 in 6 or even 1 in 4 women get raped in their lifetime.)
- It’s a woman’s job to prevent a rape.
- If we don’t prevent a rape, it’s our fault.
THIS IS SO BAD. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO USE SCHÖRODINGER’S RAPIST FOR EVERY MALE STRANGER WE ENCOUNTER. It’s bad for women because we have to be overly cautious, and it’s bad for men that we think they are guilty until proven innocent at first glance. It’s really disappointing, and it shows how little our society has progressed.
The idea that there is an entire category in which there are Sexual Assault Safety Suggestions says a lot about the way we’re taught to be cautious instead of trusting that there are decent human beings that won’t sexually assault you. (Again, we’re teaching our kids the wrong thing.) The “Dealing with Sexual Assault” part is just as sad, if not more.
Yell “fire” rather than “help” or “rape.” This is more likely to draw attention and assistance.
It’s saying that people are more likely to respond to another person yelling “fire!” than “rape!” and it’s probably true. But why aren’t people responding to calls of help in cases where you might need help the most?
“She was wearing a really short skirt,” “she was drunk,” “she was asking for it” and other just straight up crap excuses are examples of victim blaming. The fact that it’s the victims responsibility to 1) not get raped, but 2) take responsibility for getting raped is beyond comprehensible. Shorts skirts or any revealing clothing aren’t a welcome mat for sexual assault. Was a child wearing revealing clothing when they were raped? Was a man wearing revealing clothing when he was raped? Only female victims get told it was because their clothing suggested they wanted to have sex. Drunk behavior is behavior when a person is under the influence of alcohol and cannot make well-informed decisions for themselves–you can’t say they wanted it if they can’t make well-informed decisions under the influence. And well, if they were really asking for it, would it technically be rape? So point is, no one asks to be raped, nor does anyone deserve to get raped.
Even the legal system sides with rapists. Your standard excuse, “But you were wasted!” or “you should have been more careful!” There is always some form of victim blaming–some people are even reluctant to report their rape because they are afraid of what people will say to or about them. Again, UCLA even knows that not everyone wants to report the assault, “If you want to report the assault…” Why does it even have to be a question of whether or not you want to report a crime? It’s the stigma that society has when it comes to such a “controversial” topic like rape and rape culture. It shouldn’t be controversial; everyone should believe that the victim isn’t responsible for what happened to them. This is the equivalent of people telling Lincoln or Kennedy, “Well, you should’ve known that becoming president would’ve gotten you shot and killed!” In pretty much every single crime known to mankind, the convicted perpetrator gets 100% responsibility–the only exception being rape crimes.
There’s also the Elliot Rodger excuse: “maybe if a girl just had sex with him, he wouldn’t have gone on a rampage” or “he was mentally ill.” People always jump to the conclusion that a perpetrator was mentally ill. There are plenty of mentally ill people out there that don’t rape or kill people. They cope with their illness without harming others. Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t give you an excuse or justification to rape or murder people.
Also, notice how the media likes to move away from the fact that he was a straight up misogynist and blamed it on his mental illness–I mean, Elliot Rodger hated everyone. He objectified a woman’s body, he felt he was entitled to a woman because of the mere fact that he was a straight male, but also, he was a huge racist and didn’t understand why white women would have relationships with men of color when he, a white male, was CLEARLY the better option. (That was sarcasm, if the bold, italics AND the all caps wasn’t an indicator.)
I want to talk about rape jokes, but I feel like I couldn’t do as good of a job as Priya, @thewordy on Twitter:
You also have people who feel bad when a tragedy happens. “She was someone’s daughter, friend, sister, etc.”
There’s also a very large amount of dehumanization of women–which attributes to the sympathy for the victim’s parents, relatives, etc instead of sympathy for the victim themselves (this is usually unintentional, but so are sexist comments; this doesn’t make them any better). Dehumanization is taking away someone’s voice, verbally abusing them/literally calling them animals, and ignoring the human in them: the human that likes to paint, sing, write, the human that has interests and hobbies, so they can exert some level of superiority over the person.It’s downright primitive that humans can’t see each other as equals, always striving to be that dominant person.
Women never get catcalled if there is a masculine looking male by her side. Women are viewed as “bitches” — accessories to show male dominance. The reason why men don’t catcall women with men by their side is because there is already someone “exerting dominance” over her, and because he’s such a good guy, he doesn’t want to impose. Now, I didn’t realize it was ever okay to assume a woman was property to another man, because, well, slavery is illegal everywhere on this earth.
Just because a guy is even remotely decent to a woman, doesn’t mean she’s his. “Friend-zone” doesn’t exist. “Friend-zone” is a made-up word–it’s really a way a guy can degrade a woman for not wanting to be involved romantically with them, even if the guy compliments her. Men are not entitled to a woman’s body, ever. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to a woman, she doesn’t have to fall in love with you just because you treat her well. You should always treat a woman well even if you don’t get anything in return; you should treat everyone well without expecting anything in return. Because you’re a good person.
Women make the rules for their body; their body, their rules.
It’s disgusting how many people hypersexualize women by catcalls. Catcalling isn’t a compliment. It’s street harassment. You are taking a woman’s body, picking apart what you (a man) like about it, and then shouting at her like she’s public property that you have the right to comment on. Also, for people who are always like, “It’s in the Bill of Rights; I have freedom of speech!” No, it is not your God-given right to dehumanize someone with your verbal abuse.
5 Reasons Why Men Shouldn’t Catcall Women (there are more):
- If you’re trying to start a conversation, 95% of the time all you’re going to get out of shouting at her is an eye-roll. The other 5% is women standing up for themselves and calling you out–you sure as hell won’t get a phone number from that.
- It’s disgusting.
- It doesn’t make a woman feel good about herself–it’s never a compliment.
- You’re dehumanizing women.
- We’re your peers. YOU WERE LITERALLY IN YOUR MOTHER’S STOMACH-WOMB FOR 9 MONTHS (unless you were born premature, BUT STILL).
I’ve been catcalled/slut-shamed twice before, both times with a group of friends. Both times from some gross creeps who yelled it out of their car window as they drove past us.
The first one was just “Sluts!” which wasn’t cool for many reasons… Here’s two:
- the societal role in which women must preserve their virginities while men can run around (just the view itself… also, sluts is another made-up word to degrade women for being sexually active.)
- we’re a group of 15-year-old girls whose sexual activity was being commented on by a man well-above the age of 40 (sexualizing minors by a grown-ass man who could have easily been a father of a child the same age as us… When is it ever okay to humiliate kids like that from your car? I mean, if you do it, at least do it in my face so I can tell you how low and downright repulsive you are.)
The second time was some creepy guy with a snap-back on backwards who just said, “Hey, cuties!” and winked. Now this one didn’t bother me as much. It didn’t come off as completely perverted, but why would anyone ever think it’s okay to holler at someone from the passenger side of a car? Now note that this wasn’t a guy who was like, “Hi. I think you girls are really cute.” or anything. It was just straight up yelling at us like we were some inanimate objects. I mean, he was too far away for me to call him out so I made the ugliest face I possibly could with only the whites of my eyes showing and my tongue hanging out of my mouth. And I know he saw it.
I will praise Snickers for making this video, but it sucks that they put “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” at the end. I mean, I know it wouldn’t have been an advertisement without it, but this video would be nicer knowing that those men yelling decent things aren’t being paid to do so.
Here’s a thing about feminism that I want to talk about, but can’t really find a home for in the text other than the fact that it has to do with feminism:
“Are you on your period?”, “Is it that time of the month again?”, “Women are so emotional!”, etc are comments that bother me the most. Oh, but Jean! You’re being too sensitive. Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t realize that my period was a sign of properly functioning menstrual cycle thaT KEEPS THIS SPECIES FROM DYING OFF. You’re welcome. Besides, I don’t understand why people use it as a jab at me? There’s nothing “gross” about having a period besides it being a bloody mess. (Any British people out there… no pun intended.) But really though, being on my period is gr9 bc it means that my body is functioning normally. I just don’t understand why people ask a woman those types of questions if she says anything remotely expressing “negative” emotions.When a man is super fired up about something, he’s passionate. When a woman is super fired up on something, she’s emotional. Why are there two different words one with a more positive connotation than the other, to describe the same amount of ferocity you have when you defend something you care about?
Also, yes, you can still wear makeup and be a feminist. In fact, feminists have a deep respect for women who can apply their eyeliner evenly on both eyes. (marinashutup’s myths about feminism)
Anyways, I am so happy about the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. Here are some of my favorites:
from Tumblr user rasenth:
Don’t tarnish the feminist movement even more with your hypocrisy. (That’s pretty much why people are like, “Aughh feminism!!!” and then run the opposite direction: because there are too many stereotypes and generalizations about the movement.)
Karl Marx once said,”Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.”
(Anything that I have said wrong or politically incorrect please correct me in the comments. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on every topic I’ve covered, but I’d like to think what I’m saying is logical and well thought out. Not everyone mentioned in this post shares the same thoughts as I do, but all credit goes to the content creators and those who have tweeted those words of wisdom.Thanks for reading.)
S/O to my English teacher who showed our class the Marge Piercy poem.