Friday, February 03, 2006

Enough about the Fellas, This One Goes Out to the Feminists

I've been thinking more about the penis movie and I have to say that, not only do I think it was kind of earnest and boring, I have to say that I think one problem we feminists have is that we're earnest and boring. Not as a whole. A lot of the third-wavers seem to be having some fun. But here, in Nashville, I'm not seeing too many third-wavers. More like second-and-a-half wavers, full of earnest boringness, reading our little statements agreed to by committee of respectful patronization of the kids we're trying to reach. God, it almost makes me long for a pack of man-hating baby-killers. At least they have passion. They have rage to fuel them. Wickedness. They have wickedness. Earnest boring feminists don't. And it seems to me that this is a big problem. Let's take a scenario: A girl in college comes up to you and says, "I'm going to law school." And you say, "Oh, you want to be a lawyer?" And she says, "No, I'm going to get married and stay at home with the kids." The earnest feminist respects that "choice" as if it's a valid feminist choice. As if all choices are equally valid if women choose them. As if women aren't capable of making dumb-ass decisions. But the wicked feminist can laugh, long and hard, when confronted with such dumb-assery. And really, I think, it's about time we started doing that. Feminism is supposed to provide an alternative to the current ways we pretend men and women have always been. How can we possibly do that if we don't act like our alternative is more fun? If we don't embody the fact that our alternative is more fun?

50 Comments:

Blogger bridgett said...

I had a long discussion about this in my women's history class and the class kept coming back to two core issues: what is feminism? what or who is it for?
Many of them had trouble with the proposition that not every choice that made a woman happy was a feminist choice, but after a while, they started to see that feminism is not primarily a theory of personal fulfillment but rather a set of theories of social power relations that tries to imagine and then put into practice how our own lives collectively might be transformed positively by a commitment to social justice. If you want to get a boob job and slice up your cooter so you can make a lot of money as a porn star, well good on you -- but that's not really transforming social power relations or tending to empower women (or men) collectively or leading to a more just society, is it? Learning to cope with patriarchy or making oneself comfortable or materially successful in the space provided within its constrained vision of the things one might aspire to is not the same as feminism.

Feminists are not considered "fun" because we have the temerity to critique social practice and try to make people think about the negative effects their behaviors have on others. We can be preachy and tedious, self-righteous and smug -- look at me, I'm so feminist and you're not. Who wants to hang with someone like that? Everyone has a limited tolerance for being criticized, especially if one is in a position of assumed power. I have better results when I just walk the walk and not hang out the shingle before every declaration.

But mostly I'm too busy leading my coven to worry about this shit. Happy Belated Imbolc, y'all.

(My captcha word is mudafudn...hilarious!)

2/03/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

bridgett,
So your point is that women should be unhappy so that acadamia's view of what is best for them is achieved.

That's SOME feminism yer preachin'

2/03/2006 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Uh, no. I'm saying that women placed in whatever circumstances they find themselves can make all sorts of choices to make what they feel is a better deal for themselves. Not all choices will lead to social transformation, though they might help the individual woman a lot and make her personally happy. I don't have a kick with personal happiness. I just don't conflate it with feminism. (Just like I don't conflate owning a rifle with bagging a deer...they bear some relation, but it's not the same thing.)

2/03/2006 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought feminism was about making sure women aren't limited in the choices available to them just because they are women.

What the hell does choosing to work versus stay at home have to do with feminism? Making such a choice possible is feminism, the choice itself... that's personal. Why does anyone get to say "If you stay at home with your baby, then you're no feminist."

I'm a man, so I don't really know, but it seems to me that feminism should be about enabling women. Not trying to dictate their choices to them. Which it sounds like you're might close to advocating their B.

w

2/03/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Yeah, I find stay at home mothers to be dumbasses. That makes me a better feminist than they.

/rant

2/03/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

W. and Coble, if you can't see the humor in spending all that money to get a law degree when your goal in life is to stay home and raise kids, I just don't know what to say. And what about their poor husbands?

"Dear, will you marry me?"

"I don't know. Can you afford my student loan payments?"

I mean, these poor guys are basically spending $100,000 on top of whatever they've shelled out for a diamond, to purchase a wife.

How is that not funny? I mean, sure, maybe there's something mildy-pseudo-feminist about negotiating and keeping your bride price for yourself, but I'd be hard pressed to argue that it's any real accomplishment.

I don't see how the distinction between "my partner and I decided that it was in the best interest of our family for one person to stay home with the kids, and taking into consideration all of the circumstances and people's strengths, weaknesses, and desires, it's me" (a position I repeatedly say I respect and find feminist, even though it seems y'all repeatedly believe I'm lying) and "I'm going to law school, but my whole goal in life is to get married and have kids and stay at home" (a position I find hilarious) could be any clearer.

And the fact that y'all defend women who plan--before they've even met you, before they know your circumstances, or even have a particular man in mind--to stay home with the kids cracks me up.

Why you would accept such a dehumanizing view of yourselves--that you're just the wallets and the wage-slaves--as being perfectly acceptable is beyond me.

What kind of relationship is that where one partner comes into the marriage with clear, non-negotiable constraints about what kinds of ways he or she is willing to participate in the welfare of the family?

But fuck it. If that's your thing, more power to you.

As Bridgett says, we all make all kinds of choices so that we can get by as well as we can. Not all of those choices are feminist.

But there's no rule that says that everyone has to only make feminist choices. Just as there's no rule that says that feminists have to act as if every choice a woman, even me, makes is feminist.

2/03/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Feminism Is Not A Theory Of Personal Happiness. It's a set of theories about social power relations and their transformation.

So. Stay at home if that's what works best for you -- that can be a personally fulfilling choice for men and for women. But what are you doing at home? Are you transforming the power relations of the private realm or are you not? If you are doing the former, it's a feminist act. If not, then not. Not everything that a woman chooses is feminist because she's a woman. (See also "Not everything a man does is oppressive because he's a man.")

Incidentally, the whole "out to work" schtick is pretty much a straw man. The majority of American women do not have the "choice" not to work for wages, whether part-time, full-time, or casually. And staying at home IS working...and working...and working.

And don't worry about being "only a man and not getting it." Men (especially younger men) know a buttload about being victimized by patriarchal power relations, particularly in the workplace.

I've got to go to work now, and then I'll be coming back home to work some more, but I'll check in after I put my kid to bed.

2/03/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

W. and Coble, if you can't see the humor in spending all that money to get a law degree when your goal in life is to stay home and raise kids, I just don't know what to say. And what about their poor husbands?

My best friend in college did it, and several of her law school friends, too.

So what? They decided that she can always renew her law degree later, take classes to keep up her bar membership and raise their kids. Even if it takes TWENTY years to raise the kids, they can still go back and practice for a good twenty years after that.

Or they can write. Or they can donate time to the legal aid clinic.

And the fact that y'all defend women who plan--before they've even met you, before they know your circumstances, or even have a particular man in mind--to stay home with the kids cracks me up.

As I've said, I do know some of these women, and I defend them and their right to make choices.

2/03/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

bridgett,
Your arguement sounds like when black race pimps argue against Clarence Thomas or Condoleeza Rice. They throw out hollow arguements about what tokens they are, or uncle Toms, and how much they are hurting the black community's progress. In actuality, the "problem" is that they are not furthering the meal ticket of those who make their living by screaming "injustice". The parallels can be seen with NOW.
I say having individuals become powerful is the greatest help to any group by setting an example to the youngins that "See, you too can be powerful and successful."
That's what brings about your beloved social change, not EOC laws and quotas.

2/03/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Feminism Is Not A Theory Of Personal Happiness. It's a set of theories about social power relations and their transformation.

I'll be sure to submit my will to the collective forthwith.

Or not.

2/03/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

In case you didn't get my parallel, the stay-at-moms-by-choice are showing their empowerment by showing that they have the power to decide what makes them happy, and it is that leading by example that brings social change, not everybody reciting the mantra as mindless feminist-propaganda spewing stepford feminists.

2/03/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Peggasus said...

As a SAHM for the last 19 years, I often get the impression that because I made the choice that we felt was best for our children, that I am somehow denied membership in your club. When I quit my high-paying (?) corporate systems analyst job I was making slightly more than my husband. When I CHOSE to stay home, it was with the understanding that he never, ever try to tell or make me feel that my contribution to our life was worth any less than his, just becuase he happened to bring home the bucks. And, to his credit, he never has. And I like to think that I have never let motherhood define me, as I have always have outside interests and activities away from my kids. And yeah, I do now make some money off of my artistic pursuits, which is what my degree is in.

Now consider my mother. To a certain extent, we are all products of our upbringing, and my mother's was during the Depression. She still says 'Women's Lib' like it's a dirty word, and I believe it's because those early, bra-burning, strident feminists made her feel like her choices were not valid, if not even downright stupid. Thank God we've come further than that by now. But how and why has our/my choice to raise a new generation of more aware kids not become as valued simply because I opted to fight the battle on the home front?

Gotta run now. My husband is due home this evening and I've got to get dinner going. I'm making stuffed peppers, one of his favorites.

2/03/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Hobbs said...

Dumb thought: Maybe the girl wants to get her law degree now, while her parents are paying for it, or now because it will cost more later, and then after she has raised her children, she will use her law degree in some career way.

Or maybe she wants the law degree as an insurance policy in case her first choice - life as a mom - winds up being less fulfilling than she thought.

Or maybe she wants the law degree in case she never does find Mr. Right and settle down.

Feminism offends when it stridently declares certain choices to be good and others to be "dumb-ass."

You don't know why the girl wants her law degree and wants to be a stay-at-home mom, but you think it is a "dumb-ass" choice because you think being a stay-at-home mom is a non-feminist, non-"empowered," dumb-ass thing to do.

That's nuts.

The victory of feminism is that the girl has the choice to go to law school. Celebrate that, don't denigrate it.

2/03/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

First, let me say that I'm really sorry, Peg, if you feel personally insulted by these posts. I adore you and I adore your ballsy writing style and I hope you know I wouldn't write anything intentionally to hurt your feelings.

As for the rest of you, I call bullshit.

Women getting law degrees with the intention of being stay at home moms is hilarious.

Maybe you don't find it funny; fine. But to rake me over the coals because my sense of humor is different than yours?

What? I should struggle to say only the right things and not speak up too loud or say things that are rude or hurtful to people who don't even fucking read me?

Please. Bullshit on that.

And total bullshit on your deliberately misreading me. I say, "Hey, feminists, what if we were more obnoxious? Wouldn't that be fun?"

Bridgett said, "No, probably not."

And then y'all come along and say "feminism offends when it stridently blah blah blah," "Blah blah blah parallels with NOW," "I defend their right to make choices," as if you're defending women against all feminists when you defend them against me, who was tossing out an idea about something I see a lack of among feminists, only to have it shot down by the first other feminist to comment.

Well, bully for you, jumping up to defend women againt me, as if I speak for all feminists. Talk about ascribing collectivity to individuals.

I think something is funny that you don't. So fucking what?

I'm not demanding that these women don't get law degrees. I'm not over at the law school making sure that everyone meets my standards for sense-making before I let them get to class. They can do what they want and I won't stop them.

But I don't owe them my silence and I don't owe it to them to pretend like I don't think setting a bride price for yourself--which is either paid by your future husband or, as Hobbs points out, by your father--isn't funny.

2/03/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Women getting law degrees with the intention of being stay at home moms is hilarious.


You find it so. I find it empowering. To know that you are never trapped in any one scenario is the essence of liberation.

Maybe you don't find it funny; fine. But to rake me over the coals because my sense of humor is different than yours?

I call bullshit on your position that you were just talking innocently about your sense of humour. Because you didn't say "I' or "Me".

You said "you" and "we" and tried to couch what you now say is simply your sense of humour in the cloak of "the wicked feminist" collective.

I also call bullshit on your whole "bride price" business, as though those of us who have found husbands are somehow lesser. That we enabled ourselves to be traded for a currency. That we didn't enage freely in the association with a man because of our love and mutual respect for him. That because we--hell, I--didn't stay single and sit around the living room cooking up theories about how marriage cripples The Feminist Collective that I betrayed the Sisterhood.

You know, screw that. Honestly. I fell in love with a man who was and is my best friend. We collectively made and continue to make choices about what we want from life. If what we want from life differs from some academic ideal, then so be it. If you find it funny that I went and continue to go to college merely because I enjoy learning and not to advance my place and the place of All Women in society then you just go ahead and laugh away. If you have some wierd assumption that committing one's life to someone through richer/poorer/sickness/health is just some crazy stupid thing for the cavewomen of yore than I must say that I do strongly disagree. And call bullshit.

2/03/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Katherine,

Do you actually read me or just skim so that you can hurry up and get to the point where you get to write your pissed-off comments?

Because, surely, you must get that there's no "wicked feminist collective." That's a joke. There's no man-hating baby-killing feminists; it's just a straw-man, an accusation thrown at women to scare them out of calling themselves feminists. I was advocating becoming the monster we're accused of being. That seems obvious to me, but maybe not.

And then for you to act personally insulted is bizarre. How many times can I say that I respect people's right make decisions together about what they think is best? You and Tim make decisions together about what's best for the two of you.

How you can see that as the same thing as some undergraduate deciding years before she's met a husband and has any ideas what the needs of her family might be, that she's going to first get a law degree and then stay at home and raise children is beyond me.

One is a decision made by both people in the marriage. The other is made without consideration for the vagaries of life.

And, again, you ascribe to me positions I don't hold--that "those of use who have found husbands are somehow lesser," that I might "have some weird assumption that committing one's life to someone [...] is just some crazy stupid thing for the cavewomen of yore"--and then get angry with me about them.

So, again, I have to say, I'm done fighting with you. I can fight with you about real things I've said, but once you start making up stuff and holding me accoutable to it, I'm done.

2/03/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous lori said...

I'm a Civil Engineer who attended college in the south; I remember being shocked by the number of girls in my freshman dorm who freely admitted that they were attending college to find a "good" husband so they could be SAHMs. For me, college was a priveledge that I earned - I was only the second person in my family to graduate. It was beyond my comprehension that families would spend that kind of money on tuition for their daughters to choose not to use their education. Maybe this is why Aunt B finds the law-school-to-become-a-SAHM so funny. It doesn't make sense to us.

I will say that in my liberal-minded youth, I couldn't imagine turning my back on my hard-earned degree. Twelve years later, and 4 weeks from the due date of my first child, I would give anything to be able to stay at home and raise him. I don't have that option because of financial committments we made before getting pg. But I hope to some day be in a position where I do have the option. I don't think that makes me less of a feminist.

2/03/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Equus Pallidus said...

"How can we possibly do that if we don't act like our alternative is more fun? If we don't embody the fact that our alternative is more fun?"

Because it's not. You and your cats are boring. If you want to learn the lesson the hard way, fine with me.

When you are living alone in your 50's and you see your neighbors having there children and grandchildren over, then you will realize the mistake you made.

For you it will be too late.

2/03/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Equus, if I'm so boring, why are you spending so much time here? It's the boob freckle isn't it?

2/03/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Equus Pallidus said...

Aunt B

Trying to show you what your future holds. I like people, all people, even Huck who called me a dumbshit.

I want women to think about the birthing window. You only have so much time for that. After which you have the rest of your life to pursue your dreams.

2/03/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

once you start making up stuff and holding me accoutable to it, I'm done.

That continues to be your most convenient position for avoiding my points, doesn't it?

And, again, you ascribe to me positions I don't hold--
You use terms like "bride-price" that carry with them loaded cultural assumptions. You may mean them flippantly, but they do have that heft, and I tend to react.

Also, please stop questioning my reading comprehension. It's a shallow argument at best. Perhaps I should start questioning your writing skill? I read every word you say in the posts I disagree with. Oftentimes I read them repeatedly because I want to make sure that what I read was actually what was written.

Because, surely, you must get that there's no "wicked feminist collective." That's a joke.

I get that it's a joke once you decide that's the safer position to take. I get that you throw it out there and if Bridgett, Professor, et.al rally around it then you believe it to be a New Idea. If it gets shot down it then becomes, de facto, "a joke".

And then for you to act personally insulted is bizarre.

Why bizarre for me and not for Peggassus? She and I are in very similar positions, and apparently came away with very similar reactions to the initial post.

you and Tim make decisions together about what's best for the two of you.

How you can see that as the same thing as some undergraduate deciding years before she's met a husband and has any ideas what the needs of her family might be, that she's going to first get a law degree and then stay at home and raise children is beyond me.


Well, because the women I went to undergrad with that went on to become lawyers all had the same attitude I did...that they wanted to be a lawyer but they also wanted to be a mother. If they happened to get married they wanted to stay at home and raise their kids. Heather and Sonia were both brilliant women, and both knew their own mind. They weren't swayed by what a man said. They knew what kind of mother they each wanted to be.
Ironically I was the last one that expected to be married but the first one to actually wed. But I can very easily see myself in the exact scenario you propose. Why? Because it's good for a woman to know her own mind.

And the way I look at it, you've got 40 years to go to law school, but only about 15 to get pregnant. So, put your chips where they need to be.

2/03/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not defending anyone B. I'm just calling bullshit on you for using feminism as your reason for laughing at a woman who goes to law school to become a stay at home mom. I more or less agree with you. Laugh all you like, just don't cloak it in feminism.

w

2/03/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Peggasus said...

Shit B, I'm not insulted at all. It'd take a lot more than that.

My only point was about choices. I guess when it ever gets to the point where we don't have to defend our choices one way or another that the equality will have been achieved.

And it is true that I am making dinner right now. But this is just in preparation before I go and leave my husband and kid for the entire night and go to a concert and stay in a hotel room with the girls.

I feel SO oppressed.

2/03/2006 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous brittney said...

I get that it's a joke once you decide that's the safer position to take. I get that you throw it out there and if Bridgett, Professor, et.al rally around it then you believe it to be a New Idea. If it gets shot down it then becomes, de facto, "a joke".

How can anyone not see that as a joke from the get-go? OMG. For someone who called someone a nannymommy or something today somewhere else, you sure are doing your fair share of it.

You are doing precisely what Aunt B. continues to say you do. You assign positions to her that she does not hold, then ask her to defend them. It is a common internets debate tactic. It is also very easy to spot.

2/03/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

How can anyone not see that as a joke from the get-go?

I get that "wicked feminist collective" is supposed to be a funny-haha term that softens the pallette for a stated position.

You assign positions to her that she does not hold, then ask her to defend them.

Wrong. I explain my inferrance of her positions and ask her either clarify where my inferrance my be incorrect or then debate my counterpoint. It's a common debate tactic in, uh, debate.

For someone who called someone a nannymommy or something today somewhere else, you sure are doing your fair share of it.

I called S-Town Mike a Nannymommy, an Orwellian Thought Police person and the Magic 8-Ball of commenters. I did that all at Glen Dean's blog and all in a different context. He told Glen not to say something.

I haven't told anyone NOT to say something, I've just called bullshit on what has been said. Or apparently not said.

2/03/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous brittney said...

You've called bullshit on what YOU said she said. You do that often. You get all worked up, whip up this breathless, lengthy response full of emotion then expect people to spend all day refuting it. You inject yourself into debates that become so tangled with misconstrued inferrances that people simply throw up their hands and surrender.

This stuff is my job. Other people surely don't have time for that.

2/03/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

I love Brittney, yes I do. I love Brittney how 'bout you!?!

2/03/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

then expect people to spend all day refuting it.

I expect nothing.

I see points to be debated and debate them.

You can debate it or not. Makes me no never mind.

2/03/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I love Brittney, yes I do. I love Brittney how 'bout you!?!

I'm so glad you decided to come out of the woodwork to attack me. It's been a lot of fun.

2/03/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

I appologize. That was unfair of me.

I just can't seem to quit these troll urges.

2/03/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger thehomelessguy said...

There are true victims of society. And they do deserve justice. But something odd happens when victims are organized in defense of their rights.

Those who do the organizing use the pain of the victims as a facade to mask their true intentions. The "leaders" of victims groups never seem to want problems solved. Certainly those motivated to organize victims have another motivation - the seem bent on exacting some kind of revenge on the offenders of their particular group. I think it may have to do with the power that comes from being a leader. The never want to relinquish their political clout. Dispite the progress made for many victimized groups, from blacks to feminists, it's the leaders of the groups that try to pursuade people that there really hasn't been any progress, that there is still a need for them to continue to hold their positions and continue their work.

Sadly, these people lose a lot of their credibility when they deny the progress made and the battles already won. It's as pathetic as some old southern redneck claiming, "the south will rise again."

The would do better to adjust to the changing times, admit that they have succeeded in certain areas, and move onto more important aspects. Personally, I think it would be great of the feminist army invaded the middle east, heading up protests and marches in Muslim countries, and made real sacrifices for the justice all women deserve.

yeah, like that's gonna happen.

2/03/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Actually, I do kill and eat babies. I also burn bras. (You didn't think we ate those little buggers raw, did you?)

Feminism is more about expanding choices and less about making choices. Billions of women are stuck between a rock and a hard place with few liberatory choices to make. In that sense, Homeless Guy is right. And HG, there are plenty of women currently deployed in Iraq. Some are being blown up. Some are dying of dehydration because they're denying themselves the water they need because they don't want to go to the latrines at night and risk being raped by their brothers in arms.

I guess I represent the Wicked Feminist Collective, a member of a vile group of man-haters who sit around in their bitter spinsterhood or frigid post-divorce misery figuring out ways to make other women feel bad. Um. I'm happily married. My husband is simply working elsewhere. I work full-time and I take great joy in parenting. I teach Sunday School and I bake cookies for the Brownie troop and all that normal stuff like that. So it must be someone else with more time on their hands who is plotting to cut your balls off, take away your guns, or oust you from the Sisterhood.

I was raised by sharecroppers who left the south to become a steelworker and a light assembly worker. I paid for my own education. which amounts to a PhD in women's history with a concentration in feminist theory. There never has been an option for my mother not to work for wages and I don't envision that I'll ever have that option either and I don't feel put upon by that idea. My feminism wasn't born in an ivory tower but on a factory floor.

When I speak about feminism, I'm not talking out my ass. I teach and research its long and contradictory history. I care about it enough to hang my ideas out like a pinata for strangers to bang around so that they will talk about it as well. I am not an engineer or a physicist and I promise if we talk about bridge design or particle theory, I'll shut up. But if we're talking feminism, friends, then I am qualified to say my piece. Likewise, if I did put into a conversation on, say, engineering, I'd be sure that I had a good handle on the field before I launched off on my personal experience with bridge design. Just sayin'.

2/03/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I think there is some common ground here, and it lies in the answers to questions about what is a feminist act, who is called a feminist, and whether it even matters.

To begin with, I think different commentors may be arguing different points. I read B's hypothetical law student as never intending to practice law, not after kids, not ever, and not going to school for personal enrichment or future choices, but to snag a man. In that scenario, I think B is wondering why it's okay for our student to assume her wants and needs will be attended to by someone she hasn't yet met. In principle, I think the libertarians and conservatives here can get behind the objection to our hypothetical student essentially counting on a handout. In real life, though, the woman is going to have to negotiate her stance of SAHMotherhood with her potential spouse, and in that case she is saying, "I come with this debt and these requirements, will you have me anyway?" and that's what B means (I think) about a bride price. But really, we all come into our relationships with specific expectations, some bigger than others, and our student's ability to choose which path she wants to take is probably a bit the result of feminism, and a bit none of our business.

What Kat and others are referring to is, I think, a different hypothetical student, one who knows she may not practice law right away, or forever, or ever, but wants to achieve the degree anyway. That she has the choice to do that is also probably a bit the result of feminism, and again, a bit none of our business.

The real argument seems to be, as Kat noted at her own place, over whether feminism is a club with a secret handshake and special rules, and choices that aren't choices, but a prescribed set of behaviors expected of a woman if she wants to use the label "feminist." If this is the case, then feminism is a lot like the sororities many feminists loathe, but with different shoes. If feminism is, at it's core, about helping women have freedom, options, and choices, then those of us who call ourselves feminists are going to have to ditch the secret handshake and let women make their choices, whether we perceive them to be "right" or not.

What I'm coming around to is whether it matters if we assign some choices as being "feminist" choices and others as "not feminist." Or whether we label ourselves, or our actions, as feminist. Kat gives money and time to causes that probably help women who are undereducated, underprivileged, and/or without a lot of power/choice in their own lives. Is that a feminist act? I think so, but Kat might not choose to call it that. And I don't think it matters. I think this parallels somewhat with the discussion over Vox Day, where some folks have said that those who are smarter, or better, or wealthier, or "alpha" don't have to go around saying it. These are conditions of being, and those who beat others over the head with their greatness are just being jerks. In responding this way to Vox, I think we're agreeing that actions are more important than words or labels. If someone is helping women have knowledge and freedom and choice, I don't care whether they feel like a member of the feminist club or not. I don't care if they think "feminist" is a dirty word. They're living what is supposed to be the core of feminism, and that's good enough for me.

This is not the first place I've seen a discussion degenerate on what boils down to SAHM vs employed woman, and frankly, I'm just over it. I think both sides need to get a grip, and stop pretending they're either in or out of some club and have to defend their turf. In this day and age, for women who are afforded the choice of working or staying home, feminism has little to do with it, and the right choice is the one that is best for the woman and her family. Feminism, in my view, should be more focused on the areas where women are legitimately not free in many cases - on women and children trafficked into the US to be sex slaves, on poverty that keeps women from having choices, on education, on reproductive education and freedom, etc. I'm not going to get into whether gov't assistance is the answer - the point is that there are a lot of problems and areas where women are limited in their freedoms (whether you think it's the fault of the patriarchy or not), and feminism could stand to focus on those. And any woman who is working in some small way to help other women be better educated, more empowered, and more free is a friend of mine, and I don't care whether she chooses to use the F-word or not. I think if we focused less on the label, we'd find that a lot of us have a lot in common, and could work together on a lot more things.

2/03/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Equus Pallidus said...

"don't care whether she chooses to use the F-word or not. I think if we focused less on the label, we'd find that a lot of us have a lot in common, and could work together on a lot more things."

Amen Rachel...

2/03/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I don't care whether she chooses to use the F-word or not.

Okay. I'm tired or something. Because I spent a good three minutes looking for where someone said "Fuck"....

Thank you Rachel and Bridgett for helping draw some lines on a sensitive topic.

What Kat and others are referring to is, I think, a different hypothetical student, one who knows she may not practice law right away, or forever, or ever, but wants to achieve the degree anyway.

Yep. That's what and who I'm talking about.

And I do consider myself a feminist, in that I consider myself doing everything possible to help women make the choices they need to make to have the happiest life they can have. In my case that happened to be "not going to law school". But Rachel said it all much better than I was apparently able to.

2/03/2006 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Some are dying of dehydration because they're denying themselves the water they need because they don't want to go to the latrines at night and risk being raped by their brothers in arms.

Hey Bridgett, would that include all the men who are dying and being maimed protecting the girls' schools or fighting the Taliban, who are certainly the premier woman-oppressors of our time?

Watch the broad brush you paint with when you are swinging you feminist scythe.

I seem to recall a lot of feminists in the last century bitching about how oppressed the women of Afghanistan are, and why aren't we doing something to free them?

A whole lot more men than women are over there, and a lot of what they're doing is helping women.

2/03/2006 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Yep, that would be the very same guys. I have no fight with you, dude. Most of my family is military and ex-military; had things worked out a little differently, I would have been a base wife or a plane mechanic's assistant myself. Long deployments in hostile territory where the civilian pop aren't really non-combatants -- that's a recipe for fucking soldiers up. Domestic violence on demobilization is already through the roof on these guys and it's going to get worse. But I put the blame for this further up the chain of command.

My take on Afghanistan is a little different than yours. The US didn't go into Afghanistan to save women from the Taliban -- and if they did, they were about twenty-some years too late. Between the Taliban remnants, the warlords that the US are using to try to control the regions it doesn't fully occupy and can't afford to subdue, and the instability of the propped-up government in Kabul, life has continued to go downhill for women. In a heavily food-dependent urban environment like Kabul, they're starving and desperate. Setting up girls' schools falls toward the bottom of the list of critical military imperatives. In rural areas, the whole "education for women" thing breaks down completely; they have more access to food, but no medical services and the omnipresent threat of shake-downs by the warlords' personal armies.

It's a real shit situation, in other words. If we're there to defend Afghani women, we're making things worse rather than better. But that's not really why we're there. And you and I both know that.

2/03/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

So, just so I'm clear on this, you know of women who have DIED OF THIRST because they didn't dare get water, out of fear of being raped by their fellow soldiers? You have proof of this? Or this just a baseless accusation?

This was a significant enough of a percentage of the soldiers serving in Afghanistan that you felt it justified omitting any qualifying verbage, and essentially denigrating all of the men serving, in general?

Just to be clear.

2/03/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Of course they didn't "go to Afghanistan to save women". I never said they did. I did say that they are doing a lot of work over there to help women, especially when you consider that these guys could have had a very long and boring life here in the US, and said, "Fuck them, they're halfway around the world. Why should I be shot at?"

If we're there to defend Afghani women, we're making things worse rather than better.

So you'd prefer the women of Afghanistan to be under the Taliban?

2/03/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Much as I'd love to stay up all night long volleying back, I have a long day ahead tomorrow. So, quickly.

We're not staying in Afghanistan to help the women nor are we doing them much good right now, either individually or collectively. Soliders go where they are sent. They do not decide "eh, fuck em" because they don't like the mission. We have larger strategic goals, which we're not noticeably accomplishing, and we've made things decidedly worse despite individual units' good intentions. It might get better in a generation or two. It might not. But right now, it's the difference between starving in a burqa (that you're still wearing because you're still scared of some nutjob with a flask of acid that the US army cannot guard you against even though they'd like to) and just wearing the burqa.

The sad thing is, hon, that I think I had a pretty normal adolescence.

2/03/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Well, God (or whatever patriachal gray-bearded diety) bless you, I can see we won't agree.

I think you're taking the typical spoiled whiner-why-aren't-we-doing-things-better viewpoint, without appreciating the context, or the sacrifice that is being made.

I have absolutely no appreciation for your view of reality.

Get some sleep, as I am hoping to.

Hey, we have that in common!

2/03/2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger digitalcowboy said...

Delete much?

No one that could defend their position in a debate would delete multiple comments to continue hiding.

Admission of your moronic status. That's the only way I can read it.

How many did you delete besides my two?

2/04/2006 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Cowboy, you posted in the thread called "More on Men," not here. Your two comments are still safely over there.

But good luck nursing that righteous indignation.

2/04/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

Holy shit, Rachel, you should be a diplomat. That's the most resonable comment I've ever seen in a blog, ever. ;)

2/04/2006 12:28:00 AM  
Anonymous indifferent children said...

Women getting law degrees with the intention of being stay at home moms is hilarious.

Aunt B.: Go to work. Stay at home. I don't care (which to some peoples' minds makes me a feminist, and to others make me a condescending, patriarchal, prick). But the really important issue hasn't been discussed.

Any person who takes up a seat in law school and then refuses to practice law is a benefit to society.

2/04/2006 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

indy chil,

Bravo!

One thing I don't think I've heard, or heard enough, is the idea of how these women are simply going to look for the type of man that they want, in the places they will be.

Hey, ya don't look for fish in the trees, right?

2/04/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Ex- yeah, we're probably talking past one another on this one. The US military is not a social and cultural rehabilitation and urban reconstruction task force. They are an armed force. They are good at military missions and crappy at social missions -- but then again, we didn't ask UNICEF to storm Normandy Beach. I don't fault them for not doing something that they have not been trained to do or for doing poorly that which rests outside their mission. Like I said, my bitch rests farther up the chain of command. I would have had most of the field officers cashiered long ago for their ineffectual use of men and materiel.

The problem with being a member of a collective body (like "troops", like "feminists") is that when a small number act like buttheads, everyone gets blamed regardless of their individual impeccable intentions.

The specific accusation about deaths by dehydration I refer to is coming out of Iraq. (Others have come from Afghanistan...) It's part of a charge brought forward by Colonel (former Brigadier General) Janis Karapinski and (more credibly, to me) returning women troops who have been deployed at Camp Victory. In the only hard data that's come to light so far, 83 female Army enlisteds were raped in Iraq by other Army personnel between August 2003 and January 2004. The problem was sufficiently acute that the DoD ordered an internal investigation (and maybe a coverup) in Feb. 2004. Since then, the Army has (admirably) rethought its sexual assault policies and made those policies directly available to its female troops:

http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/

2/04/2006 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

I have no problem with exposing and prosecuting those who deserve it. With how-ever-many thousands of deployed forces, you're going to get all kinds. My beef was with accusing a group, of whom 99.99% are serving honorably, as rapists.

Is that Janis Karapinski, of Abu Graib fame? I wouldn't put a lot of credibility with her, either.

I still do not believe anyone died of dehydration, rather than risk getting water, out of fear of being raped.

I do agree with you that rape in combat is a reality, it always has been. Maybe we shouldn't let women into combat areas?

Ha Ha, Gotcha!

The flip side of this is that anytime a superior officer has sex with a lower ranking soldier, it is considered rape, due to the power dynamic. Also, my buddies in the Army have plenty of stories of women falsely accusing sex, and hence rape, for alterior motives.

There's all kinds.

2/04/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger bridgett said...

Not to get you into squirmy territory, but non-consensual sex also happens between male soldiers. It has since at least the time of the Spartans and continues to this day. Bad shit happens to everyone. If we don't "let" women fight because they are raped by their ill-disciplined comrades and we don't "let" men fight because they can also be buttfucked, then who is going to go to war?

You know, Ex, you just might be onto something. Back atcha.

2/04/2006 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger digitalcowboy said...

Cowboy, you posted in the thread called "More on Men," not here. Your two comments are still safely over there.

But good luck nursing that righteous indignation.


You're right, it was another post. My sincere apologies on calling your character into question over this issue. It was my mistake.

But there is no righteous indignation and if there was, I wouldn't nurse it. I'm well aware of my limitations. I leave nursing to the women folk.

2/04/2006 04:47:00 PM  

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