Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

Feminists for Real—Repost

Dec
29

Man and Woman Being Weighed on Scales

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Edited

There is no such thing as feminism. There are feminisms. Every woman has a different view of what the word and notion means to her.

I’ll tell you what it means to me. It means that women should get equal pay for equal work. It means that men who abuse women should go to jail for a very long time. It means to me that rapists should be castrated.

Do you get scared when you hear the word, Feminist? What do you picture? Do you picture a bunch of butch dike biker chicks with chainsaws ready to chop off the next dick that pisses them off?

That’s a tad harsh, don’t you think?

Do you know that every word in the English language that has been used to solely denote women as been demonized. Harlot, Whore etc. used to just mean woman.

Feminist is the new demonized word.

Yeah, you heard me correct. They should be castrated. Alright, I’m not sure if I believe that but I’m not sure that I don’t.

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle—Gloria Steinem

What does feminism mean to you? Did you know you can be a man and be a feminist? It doesn’t make you gay, I promise.

Being a feminist means you care about the cause for women. It means that you care about the cause for equality. This is not about superiority or anything like that.

Feminism is about those little things you don’t always think about. It’s about making life better for battered women, stopping the sex trade and human trafficking of women, and understanding PMS.

No seriously, PMS is a serious disorder that can make any woman turn into a monster. It’s not her fault. It’s your fault…just kidding.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too—Bumper Sticker.

So if you are a stay-at-home mom or any kind of dad for that matter, you should consider becoming a feminist. It has nothing to do with gender or race or economic status.

Feminisms are about the way in which you perceive the world to be a male dominated society and the ways in which you would like to change that.

You know that there are countries where little girl babies are murdered because they are not boys. You know that women are sold into prostitution in many countries.

You know that men are not the enemies. A society that does not value women is the enemy.

So why should you teach your young girls and boys to become feminists? Because it will open their eyes. Women are still being paid less for the same work. Women are still being promoted less, hired less, and finally respected less.

Now I ask you, are you afraid of the word FEMINIST?

And always remember that there are interlocking oppressions. Being poor and a minority and a woman adds up to a difficult plight. Feminism is about breaking all forms of oppression, not just against women.

So if you thought that feminism meant that you have to hate men or turn into a lesbian, think again. Feminism simply means you are aware that there is inequality.

Don’t let them censor this F-word.

War is Menstruation Envy—Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

If Men Could Menstruate

by Gloria Steinem

Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.

Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes “womb envy” more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.

But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, “and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It’s probably the first real thing that’s happened to this group in years.”

Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a “superior” group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and “inferior” group has will be used to justify its plight. Blackme were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “stronger” than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “weaker.” As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, “Oh no, that’s women’s work.” Logic has nothing to do with oppression.

So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.

To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- “For Those Light Bachelor Days.”

Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.

Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“men-struation”) as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy high political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests, ministers, God Himself (“He gave this blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean”).

Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights (“Everything else is a single issue”) or self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”).

Street guys would invent slang (“He’s a three-pad man”) and “give fives” on the corner with some exchenge like, “Man you lookin’ good!

“Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still “The Fonz,” though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)

Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at “that time of the month.” Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.

Medical schools would limit women’s entry (“they might faint at the sight of blood”).

Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics– or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?

Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.

Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that “these people” have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguements with a staunch and smiling masochism. (“The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month”: Phyllis Schlafly)

In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here’s an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn’t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)

The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.

If we let them.

(c) Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. NY: NAL, 1986.

Sally Kohn (sallyk@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu)
 
nina
Please follow and like us:
0

One Response to Feminists for Real—Repost

  1. Comments from original post on Blogger:

    Best Wishes, Marie September 12, 2009 at 8:11 AM
    this is great nina. it reminds me of oprah’s quote … paraphrasing, that the best deterrant to racism is excellence. i think it is the same with femanism. the us’s laws allow for much of this to be regulated by people’s good choices. we are somewhere in the middle in that regard.

    i just think it stinks that if you do a great job, you are still at someone’s mercy … mercy of their attitudes. it is scary….. there are a lot of ways to do things are make it look like it is not about … the boobs.

    i know men who have rules about being alone with women other than their wife.

    i was told by the dean at a school i attended that he had people tell him that they did not think it was right a women should be taking up a slot in the program because they were going to be supporting a family……

    i do believe that education and excellence in the work place…. doing the best job you can do (owning and fixing your mistakes quickly and undefensively).

    not sure where i read it, but there is a theory that one of the reasons depression is high is the US for teen women is that it is the first time they experience life socially as women. as they stop looking like a child, the way in which they interact with the world.

    for the first time they experiece the vibes, the hate energy that many men radiad towards women….

    Jayne Martin September 12, 2009 at 9:50 AM
    Bravo! Excellent piece. The male-dominated society has a lot invested in keeping women second-class citizens. Powerful women must be demeaned because such a society is terrified of that power. Who do you think made up the term “the weaker sex?” I guarantee you it wasn’t a woman. As one who came of age in the 60’s and 70s this strikes a real chord with me, albeit probably a much angrier one than it strikes with you. Great food for thought here.

    Best Wishes, Marie September 12, 2009 at 10:46 AM
    as I went about my first set of errands, i was thinking …. sometimes, often unfortunately, other women can also be the barrier. sad, but true. i have had the situation where being a professional, women in the office who are the receptionists or the secretaries seem upset that i am not doing my share of tidying up the conference room after a meeting. but they would never expect one of the men in my same position to do such.

    it is a man’s world, but in many offices, the secretaries can make or break, especially an established secretary who has face time with the bosses and can put a positive or negative spin on things.

    i agree with jayne, excellent piece.

    Atasi September 21, 2009 at 11:39 AM
    Nice Post. Your Friend, the Feminist, whose dad introduced her to Gloria and whose desire it is to raise a feminist son and daughter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *