October 12, 2011

As for my feminist rant

1. The idea that being a feminist is something to be embarrassed about. That any diatribe a woman may go on to prove her point is stamped "a feminist rant" and intellectually dismissed as beating a dead horse. That any woman who wants equal treatment is too 'caught up' in 'new fangled areas' such as gender/sexuality research. Every woman every day experiences some fashion of gender discrimination, whether they realize it or are so used to it, they can't anymore.
2. That anyone with curves must dress excessively modestly to be taken seriously. As someone with "pre-Raphaelite curves", if you will, I see this every day. It is automatically assumed a woman is of a lower intellectuality if she has curves or looks pretty. If she's blonde and wears an argyle sweater, she gets the stamp of sexy librarian. If she's brunette and dresses modestly, she gets the ever-alluring girl next door. If she has curves - slut. The very idea of modesty. That defeminizing oneself is a "smart move" for those who want to be taken seriously (we can see this from Queen Elizabeth I to Rachel Maddow, to the baggily-dressed journalist in The Ides of March).

Courtesy of IMdB.com
3. That if a woman staunchly portrays herself as asexual or as very sexual, she is thought of in sexual terms. We see women who dress as "tomboys" or "butch" and automatically think "lesbian" or "desperate." We see women who wear clothing that doesn't hide their figure as easily accessible sex objects. Adamant virgins become "virtuous" and therefore of a higher quality (and now qualify for fetishistic male fantasies). Women who embrace their sexuality and decide to sleep with whoever they damn well please are seen as therefore willing to have sex with anyone as well as easy and devalued. There is also the assumption that they are implicitly open to propositioning and would welcome such advances.
4. In general, women are there for the taking. Sure, our day would be made if you honked your horn at us. If you grabbed us on the street. If you yelled out anything containing the phrase "pretty lady."

I was in a high school class today. A girl was reading out her short essay on another member of the class (male). It was jokey, but contained compliments. Immediately one of the guys started miming a blow job (you know, that old 'if I move my fist forward and backward outside my mouth and press my tongue against my cheek it looks like I'm giving head' witty move that has been around for decades): dude, she totally just s'ed his d. Yeah. Two days ago I left the coffee shop and two guys, obviously 5-10 years older than I, flirtily yell out to me Smile for us, sweetheart! Give us a smile! Now there's another one. If a woman gets mad, the reaction is often either don't mind her, she's PMSing, and her point is dismissed or cheer up, huh? Why so serious? Give us a smile! No, I am not your little dolly. I will not look cute for you on command. I am not flattered that you think that I have a nice smile or should be obligated to be perpetually cheery and on display for the male sex to amuse themselves with. When I was in fourteen years old I was walking by myself. Straight forward, eyes in front of me, determined. Wearing sweatpants and a workout t-shirt, having just come from a dance class. Three boys, about 18ish, walking down the street towards me start with the "Hey there's!" and "In'nt she cute!s" due to my 4'11" frame. They grab my chest, pretty unremarkable at the time, and continue on down the street laughing. I rush away.

Yeah, sexism is still around. It's sad that people don't see it, but understandable. We're bombarded with it nearly 24/7 and have been for decades. It's easy to become numb to it and dismiss it.


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