Monday, April 18, 2005

feminisms

a very hot discussion about feminism going on over at my friend Bitch. Ph.D.'s blog. be sure to also read her post about trusting women. it was so spot on i had to stand back and go 'wow.' just - wow.

dang, i like smart women.

8 comments:

ebony said...

I'm a new BitchPhD reader. She often makes me say wow too.

jesus chick said...

jeez o'pete! why does everyone seem so angry? (i'm sure that is THE last thing you're supposed to say to a feminist). people just seem to get so snarly and i don't get it. i'm trying to get it, but i still don't get it.

ding said...

funny you mention anger.

here's a great post on that same question:
http://www.athenadreaming.org/Beanie/archives/2005/04/mad_notes.html

my answer? we're angry because there's a lot to be angry for.

jesus chick said...

"Being a mom makes a woman mad" hi. i'm a mom and i'm not mad. based on all the research and case studies i'm a rarity.
"In a sexists culture, all women are angry" ditto the above.
"If you're not angry, then you're just stupid or don't care" "Use anger as a fuel and motivator"
i'm thinking of mother teresa. she had an amazing capacity for love, grace and dignity for those society cast aside. she didn't appear to be fueled or motivated by anger - but i guess that's speculation on my part. she had an astonishing quiet and peaceful reserve and she certainly wasn't stupid and clearly, she cared.
there are indeed great miscarriages of justice in our world. and as those who name the name of christ (and you know who you are) our responses to those miscarriages should be carried out with great passion, commitment, and the attitude of christ. yes, i know, he got angry - but it wasn't his fuel and motivator.
i think the more i hear about feminists the less i think i want to be one - and the more okay i am with that.

ding said...

you, as an individual, are not an angry mother. (and i think you misread the 'anger/stupid/don't care' thing. but i'll look at it again.)

however, the study looks at anger as a trend in a group of women and finds that, in this group of women, those with children were the angriest, leading the researchers to conclude that anger is quantifiable in women and that, measurably, motherhood and anger often (not always) go hand in hand.

let's get that clear.

it seems that women can't seem to get a break - either we're too docile (no anger) or we're too angry (not docile enough.) anger, feminist or otherwise, is a perfectly reasonable response to untenable social exigencies. be ye angry and all that...

but our society can't seem to deal with a righteously angry woman.

or, rather, society concentrates on the anger to shame the woman to be quiet instead of dealing with the reasons she's angry. in our society angry women are uppity, mannish, unfeminine and inappropriate; it's an easy way to disregard patriarchy.

(and if there isn't a healthy dose of feminine anger going around, then i'd call that the benefits of privilege.)

jesus chick said...

hey ding -
i read your post through a second time and was wondering - can you expand a little more on the "if there isn't a healthy dose of feminine anger going around, then i'd call that the benefits of privilege". thanks.

ding said...

sure.

what i meant was, if one can look at the economic, sexual and historical facts of what it means to be a woman today, and we're not angry about it, then there is something standing in between us and what is going on - that thing usually being privilege, whether class, national or racial privilege.

privilege is the blinder that tells us that everything is ok, or that "well, that doesn't happen everywhere." it means that one's subject position aligns them with the hegemony and the hegemony's understanding of history, rather than looking at exigent forces acting upon a woman's material reality.

for instance, a woman who says that she doesn't understand why everyone is making a fuss over providing healthcare for working mothers who make less than $20k/yer could be said to be blinded by her class privilege if she, herself, benefits from an income significantly more than $20k/yr. she is ignorant of what a woman from the working poor goes through in order to have what the rest of us take for granted.

a woman, for instance, who says that women who are denied birth control at the pharmacy can just go to another one could be said to be enacting class privilege because they don't realize: a) not everyone lives in an urban center or b) not every woman has the luxury to travel for birth control the way a woman with leisure time would (leisure being a marker of class.)

in pop culture, i'd say look at tea leoni's character in 'spanglish'. she is all about white, upper middle class female privilege - and it blinds her terribly to the economic and social realities of brown women.

when we, as people (not just women), forget our privileged subject positions (educated, white, upper middle class black, wealthy, employed or american - to name a few) there is an entire world of depredation and exploitation we've never seen or heard of.

and *that* alone should make us wanna holler.

ding said...

an add-on:

so you don't feel picked on (because i'm honestly not like that) i'll offer an example of masculine privilege.

i had to explain to my father once why all my doctors are women; i had to explain to him that i have no use for judgment from a male doctor when taking my sexual history, that a woman's hand is smaller when giving a pelvic exam, that the questions (and answers) are different when you have a woman doctor. who knows your body better than another woman?

my father was stunned. he had honestly never realized any of that before. his not knowing was the result of masculine privilege; when you're a man, the dominant sex, your body is the medical model. why should you ever think a woman's body is different and has different medical needs?

when my best friend, a white woman, noticed i was followed in a department store by a staffer, she was shocked. her blindness was the result of her racial privilege: as a white woman, she'd never been mistaken for a shoplifter and so never been followed.

as an educated black woman i cannot understand why certain women from my community make decisions i'd never ever make regarding sex and reproduction; my class and education privilege me from ever having to truly understand what their options are. my ethnicity, however, gives me a tiny clue.

privilege is the thing that protects us, that gives us permission to remain ignorant.