Feminism is Not Fun

Feminism is not fun. It’s not supposed to be fun. It’s complex and hard and it pisses people off

—  Andi Zeisler, founder of Bitch Magazine, on what Beyoncé’s feminism means to the movement as a whole. (via The Guardian)

No one likes a feminist, except maybe other feminists. Everyone thinks we enjoy the exhaustion and alienation that comes with trying every day to be brave enough to examine not only society but ourselves as well. They think we love to ruin everyone’s fun. They think we live to make the world feel bad.

Being a feminist is hard, and trust me, we know it would be easier, and more fun if we weren’t.

It would be more fun to laugh along and not have to see the look on their faces when my coworkers realize I am “one of those girls who can’t take a joke.”

It would be easier to accept everything I have been taught about the way women ought to look and behave. It’d be easier to snub the “sluts” and to speak only when spoken to.

It would be easier not to be constantly questioning my actions and beliefs, and later kicking myself later for reinforcing a stereotype or perpetuating harmful ideas.

It would be easier to agree that all feminists are simply victims of abuse who hate men and have chosen to become lesbians. It would definitely be easier if I weren’t a lesbian myself.

It’d be more fun to enjoy the attention from the men who are too pushy, the ones who are only being nice. The ones who think it a compliment to want my girlfriend and me as if we were a prize.

I would be easier if I had never hoped for equality, or to be taken seriously, or to be seen a whole person rather than just a “thing” to be taken in and fantasized about later.

It would be more fun to be able to go out with my friends and not have to watch the people around me, or watch my drink, or watch my friends, or make sure they are watching me.

It would be easier not to have to worry about what I might do if a man were to catch me alone and how I might handle the justice system doing nothing about it after the fact.

It would be a lot more fun and a lot easier if I weren’t a feminist, maybe? Or maybe it would only be trading one set of problems for another. Maybe I would only pretend to be happier, or maybe I would lie to myself until I believed it so I wouldn’t have to face the truth that in this world, life for every woman is hard, whether she’s a feminist or not.

But fun or not fun, feminism is necessary. We need it so that, maybe, one day, women everywhere will have it a little easier, and maybe then we can all start having a little more fun.

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Featured image via Ben Seidelman

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Defunding Planned Parenthood Isn’t Pro-Life

I woke up to breaking news this morning that Senate Republicans have voted to defund Planned Parenthood. More accurately, they voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and included in that bill was a a provision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood too. Worse they rejected two amendments to this bill that would have increased, or at least left alone the funding. They have wanted to get rid of Planned Parenthood for a long time and with this vote they knew what they were doing.

Except what they are doing is completely idiotic. For one, Planned Parenthood provides much more than just abortions, and two, defunding Planned Parenthood does nothing to stop abortions. Duh!

Attacking an organization that provides critical care for millions of Americans, and in fact provides high quality care. I for one strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work that it is doing. In my view instead of trying to defund Planned Parenthood, we should be expanding funding so that every woman in this country gets the healthcare that she needs. Mr. President it is also my sincere hope that people throughout this country including my colleagues here in the Senate and across the Capitol and the House understand that bitter vitriolic rhetoric can have serious unintended consequences. Now is not the time to continue a witch hunt for an organization that provides critical healthcare services.

– Bernie Sanders

Here’s a little story about me. When I was very young, I had a scare, a condom broke. I freaked out thinking that this is when my life was going to be ruined. I was going to get pregnant, I would have to quit school, and become a mom before I could even get a job that doing more than stocking shelves or flipping burgers. Lucky for me there was a Planned Parenthood right by my school.

I went there feeling ashamed and afraid. I remember the woman at the counter asking me what was wrong but I couldn’t speak. I remember her motioning for me to come to an exam room so I could have privacy and tell her what happened. I don’t remember much of the conversation but I remember I felt like she cared. I remember that I was given Plan-B and sent home with free birth control and condoms, and a better understanding of how to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs. I remember that when I left I didn’t feel scared or ashamed.

I left knowing that if I needed anything else there was a place  could go.

Many people are saying that defunding Planned Parenthood is okay because there are plenty of other clinics that women can be treated at but this reeks of bullshit. Not only is the information they are providing on what alternative clinics there are misleading (Most of these clinics don’t even have an OB-GYN on staff!) they fail to mention that a lot of community clinics do not even accept medicaid. Nearly half of Planned Parenthood’s patients are on Medicaid, where will they go?

What I really don’t understand though it why should women have to go anywhere else. You already have an organization committed to providing quality care without judgement so why move away from that?

Now to the meat of the problem with Planned Parenthood, abortions. I won’t get into the merits of either side of the pro-choice/pro-life debate but I will say I am pro-choice. The reasons this doesn’t matter to the debate about Planned Parenthood’s federal funding are:

  1. Abortions are legal in this country and defunding planned parenthood does not change that.
  2. Any federal funding Planned Parenthood receives is not actually used to provide abortions because the law already says they can’t do that!
  3. And abortions are not the primary service Planned Parenthood provides, not even close.
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Planned Parenthood’s Financial Year 2013-2014 annual report via Washington Post’s “How Planned Parenthood actually uses it’s federal funding

 

So logically, when you take away federal funding that is not being used for abortions what you are really doing is taking away funding for services like cancer screening and prevention and birth control. And when you say that women can just go somewhere else even though these clinics already provide excellent services and are set up accept medicaid you sound like this is a personal grudge, or a religious one, rather than for the benefit of women’s health care.

Not caring about women’s health is not pro-life.

I firmly believe that because of what Planned Parenthood did for me that day a later abortion was actually prevented. I may not have become pregnant that time with out without them but the education (and birth control) I got prevented me from getting pregnant after that. I don’t know if any other clinic would have provided that kind of care, and for free!

The president has threatened to veto this bill if/when it hits his desk and I sincerely hope he does. I see acts like this from the GOP as an attack on women’s healthcare choices. Planned Parenthood has helped countless women across the country, including me, and I will always stand with them.

So Why the Hell Aren’t You a Feminist?

Yeah, I’m a huge feminist. I think everyone else should be a huge feminist too. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be? I mean how can you be against fighting for equal rights for women? I know there are men who, for obvious reason, aren’t feminists. They like keeping women subservient. They wish for the old days when women stayed home, cooking, and cleaning, and raising the kids, waiting for her man to come home.

On some level I do understand why some men would not be feminists. It’s in their best interests not to be, or so they think. What baffles my mind is the women who proudly proclaim that they aren’t feminists. You can find examples of these women by searching such hashtags on twitter as #FeminismIsAwful. A quick scroll gave me the impression that most of these women were either nitpicking flawed individuals in the movement, or had the wrong idea of what feminism was.

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See?

A quick Google search of the definition of feminism would clear up the confusion but I guess that’s just too difficult.

What these woman think is feminism is actually called “misandry”. Misandry is the “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e., the male sex). I will be the first to admit there are women whose brand of feminism is only thinly veiled misandry but they are not real feminist and I do not identify with them or consider them to be a part of the movement.

Feminism has also been wrongly associated (mostly by men) with lesbianism, and angry women who have been hurt by men and are now seeking revenge. Often times those two groups are even considered to be one in the same. In reality feminism has nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender identity. Men can be feminist. Trans-gendered people can be feminists.  Straight people, gay people, bi-sexual people, asexual people, can all be feminists. Anybody can, and should be, a feminist.

Feminism is about nothing more than equal rights. It’s about treating women the same as men. It’s about letting go of outdated views on what a women should be and what a woman ought to do. It’s about the freedom to be who you are without fear of violence and harassment.. It’s about letting go of an out dated hierarchies and systems of oppression. It’s about women not being chained to their genitals and forced to endure certain hardships based on it. It’s about letting women control their own bodies and paths in life.

It’s about treating women like real people.

I don’t see how anyone can be against this? Other than because they are just plain sexist. We can argue about the many ways there are to go about changing the male-centered society we live in but at the base of it all, the very bottom line, I don’t see any good arguments for why feminism is wrong, or bad.

If you say you’re not a feminist, you’re almost denying your own existence.

– Margaret Cho

I especially don’t get it from other women. I usually chalk it up to ignorance. Maybe their first encounter with a feminist was a bad one. Maybe they met someone who hates men and thinks they are all rapists and it turned them off. I can understand that.

But please, try very hard to think for yourself and talk to other feminist to learn what it is really all about. Feminist don’t hate men. Feminist do not believe women are superior to men. Feminist do not want to kill or enslave all men and build some Amazonian nation where women don’t wear bras or shave their legs. That isn’t what feminism is about!

It’s just about treating women like real people.

It’s a good thing I promise.

Original image via Rich Anderson

A Stupid Argument With A Men’s Right’s Douchebag

So yeah I got into a stupid debate yesterday with a stupid person (I assume he’s a guy but who knows so I’ll just go with person) about this whole Ray and Janay Rice elevator knock out thing. It happened in the comments of an article on Thought Catalog, Ray Rice’s Wife, Janay, Says To Lay Off, Is She Right To Demand, that I just happened to come across. It has since been made private so I can only view it anymore from within my Disqus dashboard. I had commented first saying that I hadn’t known anything about this incident since I don’t normally follow sports or celebrity news. I just happened to click on this article and watched the video. I was immediately outraged. I was outraged because of the force Ray Rice used when he punched Janay. I was outraged because he could have hurt her very badly and he didn’t even seem to care.

I scrolled down to read some of the other comments after my original one and came across this:

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The comment that started the thread says “She hit him first. Was he wrong? Yes. But women need to stop thinking that just because they are female they get a free pass to hit men. Especially when this whole feminist movement is going on. If you want equal rights, you will be treated equally. Common sense you hypocrites”.

I responded by saying that I don’t think it’s about women thinking they have a free pass. Both men and women should not be hitting anyone and neither has a “free pass”, ever! I think the issue most people have is about size and strength. Men are often bigger than women, and are often the perpetrator in domestic violence situations such as these. Those same men tend to cause more damage in their violence than women do is reverse situations. Ray is clearly much bigger than Janay and the force he used in retaliation was much more than could have used. The force he used is also more than what was necessary to defend himself and get away. My point was that he could have really hurt her. He could have killed her.

Her actions were wrong I suppose. It’s hard to judge but it seemed to me like they must have been arguing before. She swatted at him a few times too and it even seemed like she was coming at him to hit him some more in the elevator. She shouldn’t have been doing that because it’s not a healthy way to solve problems and hitting another person is wrong.

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Then the stupidity started. This “visonary_23” person responded to me by saying that assuming “men are stronger than women” in domestic violence situations is the same as saying it other situations that require physical strength, like in the police force or firefighting. This is very stupid statement for two reasons. For one, in my previous comment I used the term “tend”. When I say tend I am talking about “on average” not “always”. So there are some men who are smaller than some women, because of that there are series of fitness tests that must be completed in career fields such as police officer or firefighter. Some women can pass these tests and some women cannot. Some men can pass these tests and some men cannot.

The second reason is because, like I said before, in most cases of domestic violence between men and women the man IS bigger and stronger and so he is the one being told to restrain himself. I doubt Janay is capable of knocking Ray out cold. Her slaps would not have done him any permanent damage nor could they have killed him. He on the other hand was clearly capable of doing those things, just like a lot of men who hit women. He should have restrained himself.

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Visionary_23 continued to argue with me. I don’t really understand what was wrong with my statement, or what exactly this person didn’t agree with. He seemed to think men should not have to make snap judgments about whether or not they are bigger than a woman and restrain themselves. He thought it was weird to think that in cases of domestic violence the man (who uses greater force) is demonized but in cases where men would benefit in career choice men and women should be viewed as equal. He even got into what was the acceptable height, weight, BMI difference before a man could hit a woman. This guy was truly a douchebag.

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In a roundabout way I think he was trying to accuse me of only thinking Ray was wrong because he had a penis which just isn’t true. I also think he somehow got the idea that I was excusing her actions. I don’t know how he came to that conclusion when I repeatedly stated that she was wrong too. I tried to explain that if the roles were reversed and I saw a large woman beating the crap out of a man much smaller than her I would feel the same way. It really does come down to size and force for me. When any person acts excessively toward someone who is smaller than them I think they are a coward who shows no respect for other people nor do they have any self restraint. In short they are assholes.

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After that he kept going on about how  if women are considered “weaker” in domestic violence situations then they should also be considered weaker in the career field too. Either that or consider them equal and let them work “man” jobs and let them get beat up in domestic violence situations. I got tired of it and replied by asking him if he really thought Ray didn’t know he was bigger and stronger than Janay? I explained again that I was not saying she wasn’t wrong, I was only saying Ray used excessive force and that isn’t ok because it could have resulted in brain damage or death for Janay. Watching the video there is clearly a point where Ray could have just walked away. Hell there are multiple points where he could have walked away, he chose instead to use his full strength to knock his girlfriend out cold.

And it continued. He was still trying to get a different answer out of me about women being police officers and firefighters. I had since realized I was talking to not only and idiot but an idiot who hated women. I thought of those “Men’s Rights Groups” and how horrible they are. I scrolled around to see if this person was saying the same things to anyone else and sure enough he was. He responded to many people saying that there was a feminist lynch mob going after Ray and that feminists excuse women’s actions because of vagina’s and “equality”. I tried one more time to let him know I was not excuse her actions and that the issue was about size and strength and excessive force. Issues that are present in a majority of domestic violence situations. Then I asked him to stop.

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His repsonse was just as idiotic as all of the other responses. I wanted so much to reply again but I knew he needed the last word in order to feel like he won. This would have gone on and on if I said anything else and I knew I would never have changed his mind. He wanted an answer out of me that I was never going to give because the answer he wanted was wrong. He wanted me to say that woman are equals and Janay got what she deserved. He wanted that or he wanted me to admit that women were a weaker sex and unfit for “men’s work”. These two situations are not the same and neither are the dynamics.

I went to bed upset over this. I never get into these sorts of internet arguments. I was mad at him for being sexist and for bothering me. I was mad at myself for wasting my time and emotions on an asshole. I don’t think I said anything that was wrong. I think I made a fair assessment of the situation and I found that they were both wrong but Janay was the one in more danger. I wrote this because I needed to examine the conversation and ask for the opinions of my readers. I don’t know exactly what it is I want to know from all of you. Your opinion on any of it would be welcomed.