Monday, May 4, 2009

Being a Feminist

I wanted to use this blog to describe how I consider myself a feminist. I think I need reassurance that I’m doing what I need to do to be considered one because by this point I know what feminism is yet when I tell people I am one they’re always shocked. This leaves me with two options; 1- I am obviously doing something wrong or 2- feminism is still so completely misunderstood it’s unbelievable.

I stand up for what I believe in and am for the equal treatment of all people. I’m pro-life but I can understand reasons for pro-choice arguments. I do not think women are better than men, nor do I hate men. I think that women and men are better at various things and that these skills should be encouraged instead of chastised. I am for the betterment of society as long as it doesn’t sacrifice my ethical views, and I’m not opposed to change. I will and do voice my opinion when people are being unnecessarily rude or narrow-minded. I am empowered by myself and my role-models. I have career goals and want to have children.

That being said, I still consider myself a feminist. Actually, I would think most people would be feminists if they held similar lists, yet the term feminist still has such a negative connotation to it. When I explained to my boyfriend that I was a feminist he laughed and said that I couldn’t be because I didn’t burn my bra or hate men. This made me 1- seriously doubt his intelligence and 2- wonder why I was dating him. (I’m still with him- I know, I know…) But the challenge to educate people on what feminism truly is, is extremely challenging. Even empowered women that I know don’t consider themselves feminists when they hold the same views as the list above.

It’s interesting going through the women’s studies minor at SMC and realizing how much we’ve changed. Writing the “What is Feminism?” paper 3 times has given me an almost comical illustration of my development. Originally, I viewed feminism more of an extreme almost political stance. I didn’t think all feminists were man-haters, but I didn’t realize that bras hadn’t actually been burned. Obviously now I hold a much different view. Anyway, I’m going to continue to trust that I know what feminism is all about and confidently explain to others why I am one. I’ve received the funny, cynical, and skeptic looks but I am positive that I can make people see the light. It sounds super cheesy but as Saint Mary’s women I feel that we have an obligation to spread our intelligence around.

Music Lyrics

I would like to take this opportunity to rant about today’s music. I would have to say that overall it’s pretty gross, and while I’m no innocent, I’m beginning to understand why my mom didn’t let me have that one Eminem CD when I was in middle school.

Going out to the clubs and dancing is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun and it’s not meant to be good, clean fun- well at least not at Fever. However, when I hear lyrics like “Do the Helen Keller and shut your lips” I want to find the writer and singer and slap them both. However catchy songs may be, the messages they send are really destructive. It’s hard to control obviously, and I wouldn’t want the government to regulate every little aspect of our culture, but where is the line drawn?! Aside from music, my mom was telling me about a new video game that’s on the shelves. Literally, the entire premise of the game is to rape people. How the heck does that get through the red tape?!

I’ve already touched on society and morals in this blog, but as I mature and begin to think about bringing little gingers into this world, I’m scared for their welfare. I can’t shelter them from everything, and I wouldn’t want to, but when you compare today to 20 years ago, and look at the differences in society, you can only imagine what another 10 years will bring to ours.

Intellectual Life

I’m pretty lucky in the fact that I have a group of friends (guys and girls) who enjoy debating various aspects of society. For this reason I would say that I get a pretty well-rounded education. I think college used to provide more of an intellectual life by definition because classes used to revolve around discussion instead of just lecture. I personally learn better through discussion and hands-on activity, but I know that with the college climate becoming more of a corporate model, class size doesn’t always allow for such things.

Being at Saint Mary’s I feel really lucky since I was able to get so much out of every class. Even my computer programming course- our professor would say a prayer/poem before every class. And believe me, that class required all the prayers possible- ick. But even so, everything seems so well-rounded here because it all kind of relates to each other. I may just think that way since I was in the IB program in school, but I can see the connections (and no, I’m not crazy).

Family Values

I am a HUGE believer in family time and values. I think promoting family is critical to developing children’s morals, education, social skills, and goals. Actually there are a lot more things I could add to that list as well.

In today’s society, I think we’ve lost touch with the family. Maybe that’s because I hold more traditional views as a Catholic, but I will always believe in family dinners and spending the holidays together. I was raised that way and I know, or at least consider myself, extremely lucky to have been given that gift by my parents. All sappiness aside, the facts are that kids who are ignored and abused are usually the ones who have problems dealing with school and society’s rules.

In a feminist POV, I really want to have a career and be able to continue it while my children are still young. This creates a pretty large rift in my family ideals and career aspirations. However, thanks to the joys of feminism I know I can pull off both. I’ll just need to find a man who will be aware enough to take on additional responsibilities

Racial Issues

Being a white-girl, the only time I’m really faced with a race issue is when it’s brought up in class or through friends. I’m going to take this time to rant a bit because my guy friends are completely ignorant on this issue for as much as I try to educate them otherwise.

When I first met my best friend’s boy friend I thought he was a complete racist. Whenever he opened his mouth something ridiculous would come out. Lauren (not her actual name) and I went to a townie bar in South Bend that was predominantly black. This was a HUGE issue because “obviously black men couldn’t be trusted and were always trying to rape white girls.” It’s almost embarrassing to publically state that I hang out with people like that, but they’re not all bad except for this one issue, as ludicrous as it is.

I continue to argue with them, almost on a daily basis, about racial issues. It’s frustrating because I can get them into a corner every time and make my point extremely clear, yet they go right back to the same stupid ideas. Like I said, it’s extremely frustrating, and while I like hanging out with these guys, I don’t want to sacrifice my reputation and ideals by being around them. It’s sort of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Body Image

I have struggled with my body issues all of my life. It’s sad to think that 5 year olds are dieting today, but I can remember being aware that I was chubby when I was in 1st grade. At this point in my life I’m beginning to accept it for the way it is. I have the “ghetto booty” that’s not going anywhere and I’m ok with that. The extra pockets of pudge that refuse to budge are ok too, as long as I can camouflage them with clothes when the need arise.

As I get older, I’m realizing that the “perfect body” really is a figment of our imaginations. The fattest man in the world is still married, seemingly happily, and is even trying for children! I don’t know how that works but I prefer not to think about it. Anyway, I digress… What I’m getting at is that there’s someone out there for everyone, and in our obsession with getting to that size 2, (that would be one butt cheek for me) we fail to realize that that’s not who we truly are and trying to maintain that weight would keep us miserable and bitchy all the time.

Obviously I talk big- I still struggle with it and compare myself to the ridiculously beautiful people, but I have begun catching myself when I do it. The fact that I can catch myself and realize how silly it all is, is actually very comforting because it makes me see how much I’ve matured since being liberated at Saint Mary’s.

Gender Roles

My earliest experience that I can remember where I realized there were gender roles and that they would affect me was in 2nd grade. Aside from realizing the differences from girl and boy parts I had never been in a position to realize I wasn’t capable of doing anything the boys did. However, during recess on a hot and sunny day, I was told by a teacher that I wasn’t behaving like a lady by rough housing with the boys. Looking back on it today it makes me almost angry. What right does some little old lady, with her 1940’s ideals, have to tell a little girl she can’t play with the boys?

The reason I bring it up is because I’m preparing to enter the business world where it is still predominantly the “old-boys” club. I have been repeatedly told by my male friends that in order for me to make it I’ll probably have to go “the extra mile” and use my sexuality as a tool. It makes me sick to think that they still believe that this is the case or rather that I’d do something along those lines to get ahead. It proves that even in our seemingly “PC” society, views are just as tainted and narrow-minded as ever.

I’ll be playing with the boys every day, and you’d better believe that I’ll be keeping up.