Monday, February 22, 2010

I don't mean to scare anybody!

I had a conversation a few weeks back which left me under the impression that a few people have been surprised, and even a bit uncomfortable, with some of the feminist content of my older posts.

Here's the deal - if you've read any of my other rants, you'll probably have recognized that when I rant, I can get a little angry sounding. But when you couple that with rants that happen to deal with women's issues, it comes off very "angry feminist." But my response to that is kind of, well, yeah - that stuff bothers me. Anyone who has ever been angry about something that bothers them should be able to understand my reaction.

I know that the problem is that people read a lot into feminism. A lot of people assume that feminism isn't just about being bothered by women getting the short end of the stick on several issues (and wanting to do something about it); a lot of people think that it's also tied-up with hating men, or loosening up personal hygiene standards, burning bras (which actually never happened) or for some, "going" lesbian. And well, it is maybe about that for some feminists, but the problem is that in the process of making feminism a scary thing, people against feminism had to create one image of a big, scary feminist to turn people off of it. And those people chose to fixate on a very radical, non-family friendly version of what a feminist can be in order to do just that. And it worked - that image is conjured up in the minds of many people who might in fact consider themselves feminists if not for that negative association.

People who know me know that I am not like that (I think.) But I think some of the people who would read the feminist stuff on my blog and be concerned by it were concerned that I might become that. That I might change. I'm not changing in any way, other than that throughout my life I've become increasingly cognizant of some things that I've dealt with as a woman that I feel most men don't have to deal with on the same level, systematically, that women do. That's all that made me a feminist - I just came to believe that women haven't achieved true social, political, and economic equality in this country. And frankly, if you suspect that might be true, or if you believe in general that women and men should be equal in those respects, then you are a feminist too.

I'm writing this post to possibly open minds to the idea that feminism doesn't have to be scary. Like I said, the media and anti-feminists have really planted this nasty image in neutral people's minds that feminism has a laundry list of unappealing requirements. It really doesn't. And being a feminist doesn't overshadow the rest of my personality - it just adds to who I am. It's kind of like how in the sorority we'd protest against being assessed as a "stereotypical sorority girl" - we'd say, being in a sorority is part of who I am, but it doesn't define me. Feminism is the same way, and I think if people thought of feminism more as just a facet of people's beliefs rather than as something that encompassed their entire being, then it wouldn't seem like such a scary thing.

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