I was going to take this opportunity to talk about something entirely different, but after something that happened yesterday, I'm going to use it to clear up a few misconceptions about a topic very dear to me.
My mom is an English professor. During one of her classes, she looked at her students and asked "How many of you here would identify as a feminist?". To her dismay, about three or four of the twenty-some students raised their hands, and all of them were female.
"Let me ask you something," she said. "How many of you believe in equal rights for women?" Everyone raised their hands. "How many of you believe women should be paid the same amount as men in the workplace?" They all raised her hands again. Mom smiled. "Then you are all feminists."
The first two definitions of feminism, as per dictionary.com, are:
[fem-uh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
If you'll look, you see none of the common misconceptions of feminism, which include:
1. hating men
2. burning bras
3. getting angry when men hold doors open for them
4. trying to take over the world with our feminine wiles
5. obliterating men altogther and releasing them as a fine powder into the atmosphere (okay, I'm embellishing just a bit)
The reality is that feminists are sick of the way women are portrayed, the way they are pitted against each other and the way that society tells their bodies are shameful and that they should hate them for not looking good enough for men.
Yesterday I had a guy refuse to let me help him lift heavy things for the mere fact that I was a woman, even though I had just carried one of those "heavy" things (which, for the record, really weren't that heavy) across the floor to him with ease. Instead of standing there and arguing with him, I decided it said more about him than me, and I left. And that was when I knew what to write about for the Listserve.
A few traditional sexist practices need a little clarification, too. If a man refuses to hit a woman because he just doesn't hit women, he's doing it for the wrong reason. You shouldn't hit a woman because she's a person, just like you shouldn't hit a man because he's a person. When you hold a door open for a woman, you should hold it open because it's polite to hold a door open for anyone. And, regardless of which gender the person holding the door open identifies with, you should always say thank you. But that's a "common courtesy" issue, so I'll stop there.
My aim with this e-mail wasn't necessarily to change minds, but rather to help some of you understand that you might just be a feminist without knowing it. And that's okay. Most of the negative aspects associated with feminism are radical and certainly not the thoughts of every feminist, or are non-existant altogether.
I have a lot to say on various topics, not all of them necessarily political, social, or even negative. If you're interested, I invite you to check out my blog. Google "kcooperwriting" and you'll find me a few links down under my Twitter account.
Thanks for reading. I've really enjoyed all the Listserve e-mails so far, especially those with projects linked to them.
Katie Cooper Butland
Moncton NB Canada