More Hell, Fewer Dahlias: The Musings of a Radical Feminist.

Posts Tagged ‘Gender Studies

As a freshman in college, I took a woman’s studies class. No problems, right? At the time I didn’t consider myself radical, but the seeds were definitely there, and I was definitely a feminist. I’d been calling myself one since I was nine years old, knew everything about Gloria Steinham, and just assumed I’d have no trouble in the class.

I ended up dropping it after seven weeks, switching advisors out of the women’s studies faculty, and never setting foot in another women’s studies class again.  There were some things wrong with the class: it was mostly freshmen, so the level of discourse wasn’t very high and people didn’t know how to respectfully disagree and were still adjusting to a discussion based seminar style class.  But reading my journal from those seven weeks…wow. Some of the things that were said, and how I interpreted them, weren’t conducive at all to fostering a level of respect for all women. Some quotes from my journal:

“Apparently my stay at home mother set back feminism by having a career, getting married, and continuing her career until she had children. I mean, it’s not like her and my da decided, TOGETHER, for mum to stay home because they wanted us to have the attention and support after school that they didn’t always have. Nope! Women shouldn’t make conscious decisions about their life, apparently, especially not with male input. Everyone can afford a nanny or daycare while mom works and have it be a good financial decision.”

“Did you know my Da controls the finances in my house, gives my mum an allowance, and obviously spends the rest drinking and carousing with loose women? That’s what men who have stay at home wives do. All of them. I brought up my parents as an example, and apparently I’m wrong, I didn’t live in my house for sixteen years or anything, watching them pay the bills and make all financial decisions together. I must have missed all the loose women parading through and my mother’s overt oppression. And obviously I’m not at college, because all men with stay at home partners FORCE THEM to stay at home and all female children will be made to do the same! Oh shucks, guess I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy into thinking you’re all crazy!”

The amount of hatred for males and women who chose other options than what they had chosen or would choose in the future was scary. At the time, I was particularly interested in what I’ve heard referred to as “Kitchen Feminism.” You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the women formulate a plan and then coax the males into the plan, giving them all the credit? I was so proud of the women in that scene. They lived in a patriarchal subculture, but managed to do what they wanted anyways, and make decisions for themselves. Do I wish they’d said “Hell no, we aren’t taking this,” walked out, and formed a Greek Women’s Collective complete with lending library? Of course. But that didn’t happen. And instead of being proud of their ability to stretch and challenge their culture while still maintaining a respect for it, my women’s studies class was the environment that faulted them for not starting up the lending library right then and there. The lack of respect for women’s choices (including starting families young, not attending college, having large families/not using birth control, being involved in sex work, just to name a few from those seven weeks) was suffocating. I had to get out, and I did so.

I stopped calling myself a feminist. I wasn’t going to degrade other women and limit their options to fit an upper middle class white worldview. After relating these experiences in a safe space with other feminists, radical and not, I came back to self identifying as a feminist, but the whole experience has made me incredibly wary of academics in feminism.

Except for Mary Daly, who I sort of want to be one day.

Things on my To Blog About Post It: The US Military and Abortion, Alter Boys: Why I’m a Bad Angry Occasional Catholic But Not Really, Tech School Men: Women’s College Doesn’t Equal Lesbian Training Camp, Feminism Reading List, Why Mary Daly Rocks, and Sweetie, You’re a Feminist: A Rant On The New “F-bomb.”

I also have enough Econ HW to kill a cat, so I bid you adieu.