Tag Archive: feminism


how does the term “politically correct” even make any sense?

what is political about not erasing and insulting a group of people or someone’s identify? (tw for various slurs)

“What do you mean you prefer to be called lesbian/queer/gay instead of dyke/fag? YOU’RE SO POLITICALLY CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“What do you mean by ‘people with disabilities’? Why can’t I say ‘invalids’? YOU’RE SO POLITICALLY CORRECT!!!!!!!!”

“What do you mean I have to say Asian/Asian-American instead of “chink”? GOSH PEOPLE ARE SO POLITICALLY CORRECT THESE DAYS!!!!!!!”

“What do you mean I should say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? YOU’RE TAKING AWAY MY CIVIL RIGHTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I guess when you’re a privileged person who has never had to consider how the things you say oppress other people, and you don’t have any real interactions with said people, changing your ways is just a matter of politics rather than being a decent human being.

 

Source: http://atrapforfools.tumblr.com/post/5979388723/how-does-the-term-politically-correct-even-make-any

Why Is Feminism a Bad Word?

After reading multiple people’s opinion on other blogs/websites and after reading the fourth chapter in Rory Dicker’s book, A History of U.S. Feminisms, I realized something. Somewhere in the 20th century, feminism became a bad word. I wanted to further research where this switch in definition and perception happened.

The switch was noticed when “journalist Paula Kamen interviewed young women in the later 1980s” about their perceptions of the word “feminist.” Many of the young women had the the following associations : “bra-burning, hairy-legged, amazon, castrating, militant-almost-anti-feminine, communist, Marxist, separatist, female skinheads, female supremacists, he-woman type, bunch-a-lesbians” (an excerpt from A History of U.S. Feminisms).

In a previous chapter, Dicker explains how feminism was being connected to Communism during the Red Scare. I think Dicker explains why the connection was made very nicely: “To people who know little about either feminism or Communism, both philosophies challenged traditional social norms and threatened the American way of life.”

When I read this, everything finally made sense. The fear of feminism, the fear of ‘liberals,’ the fear of Communism, it just all started to fall into place. It made me realize how our past still has a strong influence on our future. After the first wave of feminism was over, most people thought that the feminist movement(s) was obsolete and anyone who called themselves a feminist after the first wave wanted more than just rights or was just complaining about nothing. I feel that the 19th amendment somehow numbed people and made people more complacent about gender equality. Many believe, and still believe, that the end goal for feminism was suffrage. The feminist movement goes beyond laws though. It’s great that it’s written on paper, but the society won’t necessarily carry out the law. Another thing that became apparent to me as I read about the history of the feminisms, is that feminism became more underground and had less of a presence since they were working behind the scenes.

The definition of feminism has been skewed to mean very odd things that just doesn’t fit the vision of feminism as a whole. For example, the idea that feminism is just a bunch of women who are supremacists strikes me as odd. The cause of the change in definition and which definition got the most popularity might be because the true presence of feminism perhaps wasn’t very visible or clear (or at least that is the sense I am getting).

Another possible reason why feminism was made ‘dirty’ is because “whenever a suppressed group starts demanding their basic rights, be it women or the blacks…” they are targeted by the privileged group as demanding too much and creating an unbalance, even though that unbalance was there to begin with or else no one would agitate and organize (1).

Going back to the idea that ‘people fear what they don’t know,’ I feel that many people who argue against feminism fail to realize that there are multiple feminisms and that there are different points of views. It would be ridiculous to say that John McCain speaks for all Republicans, or that Hillary Clinton speaks for all Democrats, so it just doesn’t seem possible that one small group or person out of a larger group can speak for everyone.

I would like actual feminists to reclaim the word ‘feminist’ and give it a clear definition. It needs to be reclaimed the same way women artists have tried to reclaim the female body in art.

He took the words right out of my mouth.

On November 20th was global TED Talks Day. All around the world conferences were being held to discuss what we can do as human beings to improve the world and the animals that inhabit it. This year, my feminism class and Ileana Jiménez, were invited to speak at the TEDxYouth conference at Hewitt School. When I first heard that I had to speak in front of a crowd, I was terrified of the idea. I did not know what I would say. However, when I did present, I felt very welcomed. At one point in the day a student from Hewitt school and a part of the Action Team at Hewitt School called me “inspiring”. It was an amazing experience to hear that as a young adult from another young adult.

The other young people presenting at TEDxYouth@Hewitt were, as Ileana would say, “rock stars”. I am away by the work they have done. Some of them have written books, started organizations, and moved people. They were extremely inspiring. Hearing Fiona Lowenstein’s story was powerful; seeing a 12-year-old do so much made me wonder, what can I do? Later that day we learned how we could do something. Many young people like Mega or Lo, have fused their art with their urge to make change. I am very confident that the young people at this conference will shake this earth for the better.

One of the speakers that ‘hit home’ for me was Arthur Levine. He spoke about changing the lives of underprivileged young people in the Bronx. If it were not for people like him I wouldn’t be here. I am ever-grateful for the work that people like him have done. His issue is the most pressing for me since, I feel that everyone deserves and needs an education to function in life and be productive. I was one of the lucky ones that attended KIPP Academy in the Bronx and the name of the school says it all, “Knowledge is Power”. If underprivileged young people, in the case mostly Latino and African-American students, do not receive an education then their ‘power’ will be stripped away from them. Education is really our way out of poverty and a life of crime and violence. I would really like to live in a world where getting an education is not a difficult task and easily accessible, but if we have a group of people who haven’t graduated high school, it is more likely for their kids not to graduate either. We have to end this cycle to have a fully educated population.

I left the conference feeling powerful, as if I was shown ‘how to fish’ instead given ‘a fish’. I was given so many ideas on how to use my passion for activism with my personal life like art or my passion for language learning to change the world. The conference also furthered my understanding of activism in general. Many times when people think of activism, they think of marches and protests. I have learned that activism takes infinite amounts of forms and each is effective in their own way.

This is the video recorded at the TEDxYouth conference of my feminism class:

The Amazons were known either as brave, courageous, intelligent, and powerful or as disorderly, barbaric, and savage.

Amazon Warrior

Their origins are founded in Greek mythology. The Amazons are said to be in Pontus. It was a matriarchal run society. It was a society governed by women, protected by women, and all about women. Men were not allowed in their society. Because they were so powerful and they won many wars, they were a force to be reckoned with. The society was governed by a queen or a pair of queens. Since there are no men, they can’t reproduce with each other. The Amazons went through a Spring mating ritual to keep the population going. The women who were allowed to breed were the women who killed someone in combat. The women would go to neighboring tribes and stay with the men for one month until they were pregnant. An outstanding process would occur when the child is born. If the child is female, they take the child back to the Amazons, but if the child is a boy, they either mutilated them and made them slaves, killed them, or sent them to their fathers. I found that the Amazons were the ‘swingers’ of the ancient world. It is said that they did not sleep with the same man every Spring! The idea of marriage did not exist in their society(2).

The Greek created the story of the Amazon warriors to show how society would be if men stopped running society. It was supposed to scare women and encourage men to take their respective gender roles. Amazons were everything that Greek men were to idolize, violent, aggressive, strong, and fearless. In many cases, the Amazon women were a reflection of Greek men; they were not monogamous and a huge part of their lives was war. In the same way, the men in the stories were reflections of the women, used for keeping a society alive and reproducing. I feel as if the Greek men wanted to do an exposé of their behavior. It also seems as if the Greek men toook the step in creating ‘radical’ art.

As expected, a type of feminism came from the story of the Amazons. The women were independent and mighty. Amazon feminism “emphasizes female physical prowess to meet the goal of gender equality. Adherents are dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as expressed in the physiques and feats of female athletes, martial artists and other powerfully built women in society, art and literature.”

Xena

Xena the Warrior Princess

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

The idea of the Amazon woman has appeared in our pop. culture as Wonder Woman or Xena the Warrior Princess. The Amazons have become a symbol for lesbians. It represented strength and womanhood. The Amazons also became a symbol for lesbians because they lived without men.

‘Boys Will Not Be Boys’

Today I was one of the few males at the SPARK Summit. I was a part of the Male Allies Action Spot. The Male Allies Action Spot consisted of different groups like Men Can Stop Rape, Planned Parenthood, Hunter Kincaid (several organizations and a lecturer at Hunter College), and Ian(a classmate) and I.

At our station we had a ‘Ask Men a Question’ wall. Some of the questions asked were:

Would you date a woman who is more powerful than you? Smarter? [Has] more strength? Better job?

Are you satisfied with depictions of manliness and masculinity in mainstream media?

What do you feel you can do to get other men and boys to confront and fight sexism and misogyny?

Why are women called sluts & men are called studs?

How can men be more included in SPARK next year?

Why should women be sexualized and not men?

Have you ever been afraid to do something because it would make you look/act ‘like a girl?

Can you ACTUALLY be just friends with a girl?

Why is it that half the time men insist on acting like pigs and degrading women?

Have you ever stood up for a girl getting sexually harassed on the subway or street?

And the list goes on. From these questions, using a voice recorder, I asked some of the young men at the Male Allies Action Spot some of these questions. The other members of the Male Allies Action Spot want to create a website where they ask men on the street to answer these questions so that women can see the thought process of some men and find out ‘What are these men thinking?”

It was an amazing experience seeing so many people extremely happy to see so many males there. Some people literally read the sign and their faces lit up. I feel like we made their day so much better by just being there. The most frequent question was along the lines of “Why are you here?”. When we brought up the fact that we were in a Feminism course they all freaked out and were absolutely shocked that a high school taught feminism and that guys were taking it. I’m really bad with names  but a speaker that comes in for Celine’s(another English teacher) “Oh Boy!’ course was there and she was reconnecting with Ian and asked me if I was going to take ‘Oh Boy!’. Some of the visitors who heard that we are in a feminism course and that there is a masculinity course offered surprised them. They told us we were really lucky to have that option and that they wish they had that option in high school.

This has been a really cool experience seeing so many people actually happy to see (young) men a part of a convention like the SPARK Summit.

Today in Feminism-Minimester, the Executive Director of Media Literacy Project, Andrea Quijada, came to talk to my class about how to analyze media. She brought up great points about commercials and how that has developed to essentially lie to people to get consumers. We also learned to break down different types of media like commercials, raisin boxes, images, literature, and others.

One of the things that got me thinking was reading the same story being told in different ‘frames’. The story was basically about an infant who was mauled by rats in a tenement because of low sanitary standards. We saw three stories:

1st Story:

  • It focused very closely on the role of the mother and the neighbor
  • It puts the blame of the unfortunate incident on the mother
  • There is a very naïve account from the mother
  • It just gives a sense of a huge irresponsibility from the adults involved

2nd Story:

  • It focused on the landlord and his relationships with the tenants
  • The account from the landlord puts on the blame on the ‘dirty’ tenants he has and how it’s the tenants fault the incident happened
  • The blame in this case goes to the tenants for ‘bringing this upon themselves’ (This is my opinion, some of my classmates thought the blame was on the landlords ignorant comment).

3rd Story:

  • This focused on the big picture. It talked about institutions and the neighborhood the incident occurred in.
  • The neighborhood gets a voice in this case.
  • The blame goes on the institution for not improving the living conditions of an area known for high mortality rates because of its sanitary issues.

This got me thinking, “How are the articles and other sources I’m being exposed to are bias by including some things and excluding other things?”. This is the first time I ever thought of this type of bias. The type of bias I was well of aware of before was the idea that news stations subtly or not so subtly express their opinion on the matter by putting specific words that have a certain weight to it. Instead of saying “They put graffiti on the wall”, they’ll say “A group of people vandalized a neighborhood”. You can see the difference in the message. Thinking about it now, we don’t always (or ever) get all the perspectives of the issue. We only get the point of view of a few people and sometimes the point of view isn’t even relevant.

A bigger question that came to mind when I was reflecting this issue was, is there any source of information that is reliable and accurate? Can we rely on multiple sources to get the entire scope?

I will probably never ‘digest’ media information the same way anymore, I will be very skeptical whether or not the news put in front of me is the right lens to look through.