Monday, April 6, 2009

Feminisms and You

Three important posts from Sunday on the relevance of feminisms to you.

1. Andrea Sachs at interviews Suzanne Braun Levine.
What do you think about the state of feminism in 2009?
I think feminism is strong and pervasive and vibrant, and I think the fact that the generations are in dialogue over what the agenda should be and who is a real feminist is really not a bad thing. I think that my generation sometimes gets impatient and feels like the battles we won are now being sort of put aside or rethought on different terms. And the other women feel like we don't take their issues seriously enough. But I do believe that the force of independent women of all ages is really changing everything. I have a 22-year-old daughter who cannot really comprehend that when I got married, I was unable to take out a loan without my husband's signature, or that jobs were listed [as] male and female in the paper. It's inconceivable to her. . . .

Do you think that men are more amenable now to the idea of female equality?
Oh, I do. I do. I think men are so much more comfortable working with and for women. You see them all picking their kids up at school, taking them to the playground. When I wrote "Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First," men would tell me that when they took their child to the playground, it would happen that somebody might call the police thinking that they were either kidnapping or molesting the child because they were so unusual. It's night and day now. Of course, women are still doing the most housework and the most caretaking.

Are you still optimistic that [women . . . still doing the most housework and the most caretaking] might change?
I think it's going to change, but . . .
2. Renee at her blog Womanist Musings takes on a reader's notion of "reverse racism."
WOC [women of color in 2009] must not only deal with sexism that is aimed at them from men of color and white men, we must deal with racism from white men and women. It is not a matter which group participates in the most oppression, simply because the smallest amount of oppression is unacceptable. . . .

Simply because white women exist with less social power than white men, does not mean that are unable to wield white privilege to their advantage. Why is it that NOW has never had an African American woman leader? With more and more WOC achieving higher education, do you really believe it is because there were no qualified candidates? Look at the blogosphere, why are there no major feminist blogs written or maintained by WOC? Daily we provide excellent critiques on everything from sexuality, race, class, politics, and gender, yet the majority of the [feminist] traffic ends up at blogs written and maintained by white women. It is purposeful to choose not to read or engage with women of color on the internet.

There has never been a day that WOC have not had to fight for recognition of our worth and our humanity. When we speak out against the exploitation, marginalization, and oppression that we face, we are called angry and summarily silenced. No matter how many polemic blog posts I author regarding the systemic inequality in which we live, the hierarchy of beings will not change unless those who exist with undeserved privilege make a commitment to change. To be silent is to accept that I deserve to be understood as a second class citizen. . . .
3. Suzanne at Suzanne's Bookshelf reviews Carolyn McCulley's mis-characterization of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's views on marriage.
Let's look at what Elizabeth Cady Stanton said [in actuality and with a bit more context]. . . .

Can anyone help me out here? Which early feminists were against marriage. . . .

I am aware that Stanton called marriage "slavery" and "legalized prostitution." However, it seems that the extreme of her position was that a woman ought to be able to escape a violent marriage and take her children with her. She deplored the inequity of the wife's legal position in marriage. She depicts the woman who is dragged by the hair across the floor, kicked and pounded in front of the children. Personally, I find much sympathy in her writing.

I am sad that a published author like McCulley would provide such a misleading charaterization of the early feminists.
Others are reporting sexism, racism, and distortions of the history of women and men, around us in our world this weekend, here and here.

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