Sunday, December 16, 2012

Media Moment: "Feminism is Going Out of Style"

            In prowling the ever-expanding realm that is the blogosphere, and all its discontents, I found this post that picked up some attention and is definitely relevant to our discussions. The author takes charge with the term “feminist” and sort of tries to expose it as an outdated misnomer. The crux of her argument is that the word feminist is one bogged down by semantics; that it’s an exclusive term that alienates people who might otherwise agree with its beliefs and purposes. She underlines her argument with five points highlighting the inconsistencies and/or problems with the modern feminist strain of thought. It was interesting, as it is in much of the blogosphere phenomena, to see the ensuing discourse that spilled forth in the comment section.
            To inject a bit of my own opinion, while I thought this article raised some valid, thought provoking points, I did have a few issues with it. Firstly, the title alone put me off. I understand that maybe the author wants to employ a bit of a trendy-style, relavent/hip tone (like how many of the blog’s articles are written), but it adds fuel to the erroneous idea that feminism is a fad or some sort of trend, bringing to mind the recent readings that disproved a similar idea that being gay is a lifestyle choice. There’s no doubt that the constant belittling of feminism as a fad or lifestyle does tremendous harm to it and has effectively diluted its meaning. The author’s second point –where she tries to equate male discrimination and violence with that of their female counterparts – is a false equivalency if I’ve ever seen one. To suggest that the number of males who endure discriminatory practices or are maligned as sexual predators is on par with females who are victims of violence or unequal treatment is an absurd analogy, and I think many would see it as such. We know that, traditionally, this country and many others operate through a male-centric, patriarchal set of hegemonic values. I wish I had some substantive numbers or facts to insert here to back up my claims, but I don’t.
            In the end, the article got me thinking about the term itself “feminist” and the many (mostly negative) connotations and iterations it’s withstood.  And then I thought about how many of those are misled, erroneous ideas that bring the movement down – how so many are deterred or put off from the term, and more importantly, the meaning, prior to even learning its significance. I’m interested in this disconnect between the misconception of feminism and its actual significance: how a lot of people are resistant towards identifying with it – prior to even learning about it first-hand – because of its many maligned connotations. One is the deeply ingrained idea that you can’t be a male feminist, or if you are, it challenges your virility.
            Pardon all the wordy redundancies. I just realized this post's way too long and will put off any potential readers. Nevertheless, here’s some food for thought for the few that might be reading.

Before taking this course, what were your preconceived ideas of “feminism” and now, as we close out the semester, has that understanding shifted at all? Or what was (most) surprising about the myths we debunked in what feminism means? And lastly, if the term “feminist” were dispensed for something more inclusive such as “gender equitist,” as the author suggests, would that benefit the movement and give it more steam?

1 comment:

  1. I was talking to a female friend about feminism recently and she told me that she wasn't a feminist. I was intrigued that a woman, in this day and age would not ally her self with an intellectual movement that promotes her equality in the world. She told me that she was a humanist and that the notion of exclusivity in the defining of equality was reductive. I agreed that that was an interesting way of looking at it, and I saw her point of view. I mostly don't think about the term feminism because it usually gets folded into a vague blur of humanist ideas most left-leaning people (myself included) have. I wouldn't say I'm a feminist because there's almost no point in me pointing it out, it's almost an intrinsic part of the ideology of my culture.