I am a feminist woman who just got finished grading a bunch of papers because I’m also a teacher –historically a woman’s job by the way and like social work, the two lowest paying of the ‘professions’ –not just a coincidence, surely.
Even now students both male and female students that I would say I would classify if one were into classification as male-identified. Because in every game, don’t we always want to side with the one who has the game rigged to his favor?
Anyhow they say things like: well, she’s a feminist…. and it should just be about human day, not Women’s Day…and you know not just women suffer from violence or …blah , blah , blah but men too. And friends of mine , good friends of mine are insistent that they wish to be identified solely by their artistry and not by their gender, to which I say, yes, of course. We all do. But in reality we and our stories (as writers) aren’t always viewed as we intend and our scholarly work is questioned because we have the audacity to want to view the world through a lens that sees equality and not just the world as white men and others.
To my students, to my fellow artists, I hear your frustration. But your frustration is not the result of feminism somehow hurting you.
And I agree with you. Like Neko Case said a few months back in reaction to being labeled as a “Woman in Rock” —fuck that. She’s a musician in rock music. You’ll never see a Rolling Stones cover (as irrelevant as they now are) that proclaims “Men of Rock.” You know that. I know that. And that’s why we need feminism, because the world at large does not look at us equally.
A friend of mine is a horror movie director. She happens to be a woman. She happens to be a mother. Looking at her work , I’d say sometimes she has told stories that are probably informed by her experiences–as we all do regardless of being male or female identified. But in the end she is not her gender, she is a film director. Period.
I’m a writer. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a teacher. I’m a lover. I’m probably a few more things too. I’m a feminist. I feel my stories are just as important as those told on the big screens with explosives and in pages with angst of finding one’s place in life lost as is the plot line and theme of so many white man’s tale. It’s not a pissing contest. It’s not about who is better. It’s that my story and your story gets told on equal footing.
I like that people call it all out more these days. When women who are lawyers are asked who designed their clothes. When women who are busy being secretary of state are asked about their suits. You know it. I know it. No one would ask a male lawyer or secretary of state that question. Because it’s sexist and because it’s stupid.
We live in a great age in the US when some of the most obvious forms of sexism get called out and called out far more than racism gets called out. But just because it gets called out doesn’t mean it’s all solved now. It’s not. It’s just getting better. And worldwide it’s a different story. As long as girls are getting shot in the face because they want an education nothing is solved.
As long as developed countries treat such things as a low item on the world’s agenda, it’s still an issue.
Smart women have always circumvented the dominant paradigm in whatever the ways they could: joining convents to continue studying and to refrain from expected marriages and childbirth (Go Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz), studying on the sly, standing in the street, having a congressional session in one’s honor while you’re out of the country to keep you out (Go Emma Goldman). We find our way.
International Women’s Day. We celebrate surviving DESPITE opposition every step of the way. So celebrate. Your sisters have come a long way, baby. Despite the co-option of the cause and culture every step of the way.
You know the statistic as well as I: Women with education tend to have less children and more to contribute to their societies outside the home. Scary fucking shit for apparently half the world. There’s a whole lotta vagina/clit envy out there.