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sistahs are doin' it for themselves
Jan 29th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i often enjoy radicalmother’s posts, and this one has me inspired.

in a related vein, i once got into a horrifically-awful shoutfest in grad school. i took a feminist theory class. there were two men in the class, two of the most thoughtful and wonderful people i’ve ever known. two men i knew then to definitely be feminist. the prof asked whether men could truly be feminists. a chunk of the women in the room were screeching that men could not, in fact, ever be feminists because they could never experience oppression like women do.

i am a staunch feminist (though i do not play one on TV), but i had a very difficult time stomaching that idea. a) i found it divisive — a movement needs all the members it can get, imho; and b) men *can* get oppressed. generally, the oppression comes from other men; but due to racism, class-ism, and sexual preference, men can be oppressed. (ask some of the recently-emigrated guys from african or asian nations how they are treated here.) therefore, in my mind, they, too can be feminists.

the womyn in my class went on to tell me that i could not be a true feminist because i’m a heterosexual woman, and i can’t really know what it’s like to be a lesbian. well, that last bit is true — i don’t know what it’s like to be a lesbian. but i do know how it feels to be beaten up over my religion. and like lots of other women, i also have experienced my fair share of oppression. not being allowed to join the little league because girls did not do that back in my day. having the identical qualifications as BS and having to take a typing test when he did not for a job. losing a promotion because i looked so tired when i brought my six-week-old to visit at work so we didn’t think you’d come back from maternity leave. i can keep going, but i don’t want everyone feeling sorry for me. i don’t.

i guess where i’m rambling is this: there are so, so many doofuses (doofi?) out there who will denegrate what they fear. there are men out there who can and want to participate in a real dialogue about sexism. there are women who want to refine the definition of feminism to the enth degree until it’s a very limited club. it’s tough sailing when you’re negotiating these waters with your kids in the boat. so i just try to teach my kids the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do to unto you. i hope that somehow translates into just doing what’s right. in the end, that, to me, is what being a feminist is all about: treating women and men, boys and girls, fairly in all arenas of life.

i just wish i could call it humanism.


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