Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The "F Word"

Once again another great blogger has given us material to react to. Special thanks to Dr. Krouse for her guest post on feminist theory.

Inevitably when talking about Feminism in all its incarnations, a professor will ask if there is anybody in the class who identifies themselves as Feminists. And, of course, very few respond positively. While I do consider myself a femininist--i.e. someone who believes women deserve equal rights--I'm always reluctant to express my views. Like Dr. Krouse discussed, the word "feminism" has been saddled with a less-than-pleasant connotation. It seems as if the "f word" (as one of my classmates called it) is instantly equated with a militant, man-hating bull dyke. That somehow, women who advocate their own rights are noisy and maniacal in their beliefs. While I am not the most traditionally elegant, demure, or feminine woman, I still am hesitant to associate myself with that image (though, to be honest, I secretly LOVE flannel.)
Even though I do have some degree of knowledge concerning Feminism and agree with its essential tenets, I still fear association with it. It's troubling to think that I might be the hapless victim of the patriarchy.
Before Dr. Krouse's post, I sort of embraced postfeminism. That is, I found the idea that it's okay to act on sexual desire and to relish femininity for femininity's sake liberating. It was the happy medium for me. I could call myself a "feminist" but not really have to be vocal or attract attention. Of course, that notion has been thoroughly disabused. This version of feminism almost feels like "feminist lite". While it's alright to revel in your womanhood, it is not the same as challenging the status quo. Unfortunately, Cosmopolitan's idea of the "independent woman" operates directly within the patriarchy by espousing a feminine ideal created by men. This does not necessarily mean that I totally disagree with everything in the postfeminist movement. Rather, I think that feminist theory needs to be executed and developed into more spheres. No amount of shoe purchases, however delightful, are ever going alter gender politics. Perhaps the first step is to de-villify the word "feminist" so I can continue to wear the mantle proudly.

1 comment:

Mae Dupname said...

I really enjoyed your post! I liked what you said about postfeminism. I think a lot of people like the idea of feminism, but shy away from actually voicing their true feelings about the patriarchy because they’re afraid of how other will view them. It reminds me of the blog we read for class about the woman who is accused of overreacting to a sexist comment. She feels forced to hold in her opinions because whenever she voices her thoughts from a feminist viewpoint she is seen as a bitch. I agree that the negative connotations that go along with “feminist” need to be erased before any change can occur, but I wonder if that’s a realistic possibility. Thanks again for your interesting post!