Time for another episode of Feminism F.A.Q.s. This one is – I hope – pretty straightforward. It defines “girlie feminism”, which is closely related to the ideas of “cupcake feminism” and “lipstick feminism” and takes a quick look at the related debate among feminists.
Overall, it’s one thing to celebrate the hobbies you love to do and to bring feminism into that, but on the whole, expressing feminism through crafting or baking isn’t a substitute for key feminist struggles such as those for reproductive rights or against the gender binary, poverty and the wage gap. That doesn’t mean that individual feminists should feel bad about honestly liking and valuing traditionally feminine activities.
My latest episode of Feminism F.A.Q. is on the issue of objectification, specifically sexual objectification, and why this is an issue for feminists. Check out the video below and read my notes and the transcript after the jump.
In working on my other Feminism F.A.Q.s videos I’ve argued that while women have made many advancements, feminism is still necessary because we live in a patriarchy in which women still experience inequality. Just one commonly-cited piece of evidence for this view is the existence of a persistent wage gap between men and women.
But for some reason despite the plethora of evidence on this point, certain sections of the population seem bent on denying there is a wage gap or if they’re forced to admit it exists, arguing it’s entirely due to “choices” women make to sacrifice career for family or to avoid higher-risk jobs. It’s not just me who hears this – we saw it played out in an argument on Meet the Press between Rachel Maddow and Alex Castellanos earlier this year. When I tweeted I was making the below video, I was referred to videos echoing this argument that any gender wage gap is due to women working less and moving in and out of the workforce over the course of their lives. Some commenters on previous videos accused me of “spouting ignorance” and one argued “women actually make more money doing the same job as men.”
I watched the videos and read their sources but they don’t explain the research and articles I read in writing this video, which are linked into the transcript below.
Doing my video on the myth of feminist bra burning inspired me to take on another topic or two around women’s history. This video looks at just a few of the things women have been told they can’t do, through actual legal prohibitions (e.g. voting) or social norms (riding bicycles). It also lists a few of the things women are still told they “can’t do” today.
It was a bit tricky writing the film deciding whether to include women in other countries, since the time was limited and I never really planned to specify except for specifically mentioning driving prohibitions in Saudi Arabia. In the end most of the content is drawn from the history of Western women in order to combat the argument that women in the West no longer experience discrimination, but I do include some worldwide examples in the second list in the video.
Read the transcript after the jump with links to sources. If a source isn’t linked to it means it’s considered to be common knowledge (first list) or I found it by Googling “women can’t” or “women aren’t allowed to” and then seeing what came up (second list, tended to turn up results like this “joke” list).
I’ll also note a few things on the first list of historical “can’ts” also apply to the present-day, at least outside of North America. Inclusion on the first list isn’t meant to imply these are issues that no longer exist anywhere (for example, women still clearly experience issues trying to breastfeed in public, even in places where it’s totally legal).
I wanted to kill two birds with one stone in this video. The first thing I tried to address was the argument I’ve received since my video “What is Feminism?”, that if feminism is really about equality, it should be called something broader like “equalism” or “humanism”.
I’ve found people making this argument generally come from one of two places: one group believes work needs to be done on women’s equality but see it as part of a broader movement and might have a reluctance to call themselves feminists due to negative stigma (aka the “I’m not a feminist…but” crowd).
The other believes feminism is not necessary because men are equally or more discriminated against in society compared to women. Therefore they accuse feminists of talking about equality while ignoring male inequality. I think this video speaks more to the first group – it’s very hard to convince those who possess the intractable belief that men are disadvantaged that in fact women are still the marginalized ones, on the whole – no matter how many stats you throw out. But I will continue to throw out stats in other videos nonetheless.
The second “bird” I was trying to kill was the common misuse of the word “humanism” to refer to simply an extremely broad movement for equality for all humans. I know I get tired of hearing celebrities in interviews, not to mention friends and acquaintances say, “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist; I’m a humanist” to mean that they feel feminism has a negative connotation and that humanism is an adequate substitution that demonstrates their commitment to equality for all. In addition to erasing the specificity of fighting gender inequality, it misses the historical and current meaning of the term “humanism”, which also includes a commitment to the rational and scientific and a rejection of the idea of divine and supernatural powers. I’m sure some humanists get annoyed by this mischaracterization, too. At any rate, I h0pe this video helps to concisely clear that up.
I also wanted to give major credit to Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog, whose answer to this question helped me start writing my own for this video. They also address a range of other FAQs on their site that are worth checking out if you like these videos.
It’s been a while since I posted a Feminism F.A.Q.s video but you can expect more in the coming weeks as I’ve just finished filming a handful. This video was the most popular response in the topic poll I ran on the Gender Focus Facebook page so I decided to edit it and get it posted first.
I did another version of this topic in my first round but decided to re-film the whole thing for audio and clarity. It’s a topic I feel conflicted about trying to address – as a white woman I shouldn’t be the one getting to decide what makes someone an ally. As someone I follow on Twitter said the other day, “The standards for allies are so low. Quote some bell hooks and you get a cookie.”
I don’t want it to seem like I’m asking for a cookie by just doing this video, but it’s a really important topic and I believe it is better for me to try my best to address it and to be open to critique rather than burying the issue and the responsibility white women feminists share to examine their racial privilege and be actively anti-racist.
I got a comment on the video where the person seemed to think I was implying feminism and anti-racism are the same thing. I just wanted to clarify that’s not what I was getting at. What I’m saying is that you can’t be feminist and racist at the same time because you would be implicitly supporting a system where not all women can achieve equality. I’m not saying that being anti-racist makes you a feminist – you need to have analysis of and support for gender equality for that to be the case.
Can men be feminists? That’s the question I try to take on in my latest Feminism F.A.Q.s video.
There’s nothing in the definition of feminism that says no, but it can be a bit touchy, so here are some guidelines for men getting involved with feminist organizing, as well as some suggestions for how men can help feminist goals.
Read the full transcript after the jump and suggest other questions, myths, or issues in the comments below!