I’ll never forget one birthday party I had a few years ago where an old schoolfriend of mine had brought her new boyfriend. We’d chatted for a while, he’d been talking geek stuff with my then boyfriend and then I got to talking with him. Now other than he’d already expressed pretty heinous views (if the Bangadeshi’s are willing to work for 50 cents a day why shouldn’t we let them for example) he eventually asked what subjects I taught at the Uni. “Women’s Studies.” I replied. “Oh,” he said without a beat, “so you’re a man-hater then”.
I had the good grace not to laugh in his face – although had he known the amount of discussion he later engendered (of the “Can you believe it?” vein) it’s not just his ears that would have been flushed! I know many of us are driven to defend our feminist positions on a regular basis and so Colleen Watson’s article in the little known Spartan Daily (San Jose University’s newspaper) is well worth reading (and maybe printing, and maybe giving out to each numpty we meet who needs it).
Ten years later and I still feel that whenever I say that I’m a feminist, I feel like I have to explain why, to give a reason for my pro-women stance, or at least let people know that I don’t get any joy from kicking puppies. Whenever I hear a woman say she is a feminist, it is always with an added caveat. She can’t just be a feminist. She has to quickly explain that she is not a “feminazi” and that she doesn’t hate men.
Watson looks at misogyny is a range of fields, from Hilary (yes that’s one of the points) being called an “uppity woman” by an MSNBC reporter (though I doubt to her face!) to comments on internet news sites (the US seemingly suffers the same problems as Comment is Free over here!) to lack of representation in senior positions. It’s a great affirmation of why feminism is needed.
On a similar vein for women who “aren’t ready yet” Chloe Angyal has written a piece for The Princetonian (yet another US Uni paper) about “how to be a feminist without anyone knowing”. (Although why you’d not want people to know is rather beyond me….). Her advice?
1. Quit obsessing about your body.
2. Quit calling othe women derogatory names like “slut”.
3. Don’t let advertisers sell you empowerment – it can’t be bought.
4. Make smart sexual decisions.
5. Really and truly value women.
Of course I’d add:
6. Remember saying you are a feminist actually does start to make a difference in the world.
But the first five are pretty good to be going on with….