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

Posts Tagged ‘women’s college


Please stop telling me to subvert my identity to keep you happy.

I thought we were past this, solidly into the third wave, maybe emerging into the fourth, realizing that women of color, queer women, disabled women, imprisoned women and every other woman had their own voice to add to our movement. I really thought you were done telling me that my identity needed to be sectioned off and isolated into pockets of activism. You’re telling me I should suppress being queer in order to further a movement that represents women, yet if you have your way, won’t represent me. But I’m pretty sure I’m a woman. I’m also pretty sure that the trans women I know are women too, and that your definition of woman and female are woefully inadequate, insulting, and just another way to perpetuate your tired stereotypes and patriarchy approved message of racism and homophobia.

In other words, fuck you sociology class.

Love,
R.F.L.


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.


I’ve gotten that comment several times in the past week, mostly from people who know me in off the net land and I’ve linked to this blog. Apparently, I need a shaved head (I’m detangling waist length hair as I type), lots of denim (I prefer cotton blend) and combat boots (I do have really awesome black and white boots, but they’re less combat and more adorable imo).  Those attributes, along with a “Dead Men Don’t Rape” sign and some copies of the SCUM manifesto, and I’m all set to portray the characterized image of a radical feminist that our media is so eager to toss around.  Despite the fact that I, and many of the other radical feminists I’ve met, don’t at all look like that, this image is what is tossed around. Oh, and we’re babykillers. Can’t forget that part!

Instead of launching into what I’d planned right here, I’m going to stray from my outline: I originally was going to talk about how feminists come in all shapes and sizes, and how the image the media puts out marginalizes women of color, differing abilities, and many other factors, all of whom already participate in and shape the culture of radical feminism. But most reading this (from my estimates, who I’ve linked, and the cute referral thing WordPress has!) aren’t radical feminists, and some don’t even self identify as moderate feminists (though those of you I know IRL are totally feminists and more radical than you think and I bet those of you I don’t personally know are too!).

Hence, there’s a slightly different need for this post: the image that the media puts of out of feminists, both radical and not, cuts you, the non identifying feminist, off from feminism. That seems like a “Duh” statement to make, and especially to bold, but after reading several signs my women’s college put up about feminism, it needs to be said. These signs were attached to whiteboards, and people wrote their opinions on them. I was fairly horrified at some of the responses, which identified feminists as whiny, lazy, “others,” unpopular, ugly, and fighting a lost battle, along with being unneeded and outdated. Woah. The thing is, I guarantee you that 90% of the people who wrote those things all take advantage of the things feminism has provided on any given day.

HELLO, WOMEN’S COLLEGE.

Maybe if we were at women’s college devoted to the “womanly arts” of sewing/cooking/being submissive, like offered at some Bible Institutes, you could disavow feminism, but feminism is the reason that you, as a woman, are attending college, living on your own, in dorms or apartments, and able to go on afterwards to fufilling careers and travels. Sorry that we’re apparently so ugly and outdated now, but seriously…we got you where you are today.

So why all the disapproval? Shouldn’t every woman be a feminist to some degree, if they value even one of these abilities: to get an education, work at (most, still some room here) careers, marry whom they choose if at all, develop their sexuality, travel unescorted, own/sell property, control their own bodies and reproduction, VOTE and SO MANY OTHER THINGS?

It’s that image. The one of me in denim and passing out the SCUM manifesto. Women can look at it and think “Well, I’m not like THAT. That’s not ME. They’re so ugly and outdated.”  Many of the people saying these things are feminists: they hold jobs, degrees, educations, property, etc. They just don’t self identify as feminists. And hence a huge issue within the movement: the thousands of “secret feminists” who feel they defy the feminist image and hence aren’t feminists and won’t identify as so.

But who put that image out there, and should we be listening to them?

NO!!!

Being media savvy is part of being a feminist, a woman, and a human, and it should be a part of everyone’s day. The media feeds us things that aren’t true, that are overexaggerated, that are purely sensationalism. And while I love the stories of puppies and small children being rescued from lakes/trees/burning buildings, that’s not the only thing they tell us is true/good/right. Question the six o’clock news. Question the validity of what they’re saying, ask if you see that in your daily life. Give it a quick google, talk to people.

You’ll find that radical feminist, the one who fits the image. You’ll also find a lot of girls with long hair in velvet skirts. The face of feminism is NOT just who the media portrays it to be, it is so much more diverse and encompassing and is working on becoming more so.

Step past the media’s lights. The next time someone starts in on us “ugly, outdated” feminists, look them in the eye and say, “you really think I’m ugly and outdated?”

Chances are, they don’t. And if they do, well, they’re an asshole and you won’t be able to get through to them anyways.


Who the hell are these people and why are they making decisions for us?

Change.org: “Single-Sex Classes on Trial Expect Girls to Sit Down and Shut Up”

As a woman who attended an all female high school and currently a woman’s college, I’m a big fan of  single sex education. Some of the benefits I’ve noticed include a more open environment about issues related to women, especially in regards to sexual violence. Science classes are no longer a battleground between the sexes, and women are encouraged to stand up and talk loudly, among many many other things.

And really, this is sexism that can easily be refuted by some quick googling.  Which leads me to wonder, why in the world are the principals who care more about their own outdated sexist notions than actual studies and information regarding single sex education? Why are we allowing these people to continue to advance in society, and become our educators, politicians and high powered executives?

Let’s stop giving sexism a free pass and start holding sexist jerks accountable.

(check out the link’s website too! really cool people doing really cool things.)