America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Tim Tebow, attacks on Christianity and respect in America

I apologize for the lack of posting. Busy, plus the Internet is pedestrian at best and takes forever to load this site. But I felt I needed to write this morning.

Although I never gave the Broncos a shot at defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wildcard Playoffs game, that Tim Tebow led his team to a victory over the Steelers wasn’t the biggest surprise for me Monday morning. What surprised me most – although it should have been expected given past conversations – was the reaction to Tebow’s performance. “An illegitimate quarterback,” one friend describes him, only to go on to, rather than focusing on his play, attack his faith. “Let’s see if God likes him more than Brady,” another friend takes a shot. “I am going to throw up,” another friend writes, and then, like the rest, goes on to criticize Tebow for his faith.

I am surprised at all of this not because it is unheard of to bash public figures and athletes, especially those seen as prima donnas, for their behaviors. Rather, I am surprised because I don’t understand the hatred for Tebow – the majority of which comes from the left, and I cannot help – even as an atheist and anti-Broncos fan, but think that the hatred for Tebow is a collective hatred for his faith, and an overall attack on Christianity. I am beginning to understand when Christians say that even in America – whether one believes America is a Christian nation is immaterial (and I don’t believe it is) – that Christians often feel attacked and mocked for their faith.

There are a lot worse athletes NFL fans and America’s left can hone their attacks on. At least Tim Tebow isn’t the one to seek the spotlight each time the camera rolls, as a certain now-retired (then again, maybe not) quarterback did for nearly 20 years; at least he was never accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the bathroom while his bodyguard stood at the doorway; at least he was never involved in murder investigations as a certain Baltimore Ravens linebacker was; at least, unlike Sam Hurd of the Chicago Bears, he was never accused of an elaborate scheme to distribute drugs to Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods, making money from it as a result.

It would be clichéd to say Tebow has done nothing but win – and, in fact, it’s not true. Once the NFL figures out his style and limited body-of-work, Tebow will be but another one-hit wonder. But this isn’t about Tebow’s ability. It has never been. From the very beginning, Tebow has had to defend his faith, as if somehow in an America where our freedom of religion is guaranteed, Tebow is not afforded that by virtue of simply being Christian. When he aired the pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl two years ago, the left was up in arms, as if he were somehow directly connected to Scott Roeder and the murder of Dr. George Tiller. In an America where freedom of speech his guaranteed, Tebow would have been muzzled for his pro-life stance. In an America that so bravely (and rightfully so) fought against the hatred directed toward Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks and during Park 51 controversy two summers ago, people turn a blind eye toward the attacks against the faiths of Christians like Tebow, using cowardly excuses like, “well, you can’t be attacked if you’re the predominate group.” In an America that is so concerned with the bullying of school children based on their sexuality or because they look different, we continue to see the bullying of Christians each day. They’re made fun of for not being smart enough, for believing in silly things, and for being uneducated. It’s no wonder right-of-center politicians have been so successful at exploiting that hatred by promising to stop the attacks on faith as Rick Perry famously did in a political commercial a few weeks ago.

This goes beyond Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. After all, Tebow and the Broncos, and whether Denver can each replace Elway with Tebow’s gimmicks at quarterback, are immaterial to America. What does matter to America is how its people treat one another based on faith. When atheists prevent Christians from displaying the Nativity Scenes during Christmas, it is an attack on their faith. Instead of actually listening to one another and work out our disagreements, we attack one another, citing separation of church and state, when in fact the real reason is that we have no respect for one another. When pro-lifers are silenced or attacked for their views, our nation is no longer the America our founding fathers intended for it to be, because people of faith and those who are pro-life will always exist, and this is their America, too. And, when we judge each other based on the caricatures we’ve painted of one another, we’re no longer in living up to the ideals of the America our founding fathers had envisioned; we’re no longer the melting pot of various faiths and beliefs, colors and sexualities, national origins and the myriad of other characteristics that so many activists have marched for our nation to be. In fact, when we let what’s different between us decide the course of our conversations, rather than finding meaningful dialogue based on mutual respect, we are letting down each of the previous generations that have fought to bring America to where it is.

This is a pro-choice America and it’s a pro-life America. It’s a Christian and Muslim and atheist and Jewish and Hindu America. It’s a Black America and white America and Asian America and Mexican America. It’s an America for immigrants and those whose ancestors trace back to the Mayflower. It’s an America for gays and straights and those who are in between. It is for all of us – even those pesky Broncos fans, and until we actually stop the attacks of one another, and in this case, of the not-so-faithful against those of faith, we are moving farther away from the being the City Upon a Hill and, instead, make ourselves into a warring village. America cannot afford that. Our future must not be like that because we each grew up in the America we actually believed in – and it’s an America that I want my future children to also believe in, not just on the playground and in school, but as they grow up and engage the world.

Those who disagree with us aren’t evil; they aren’t stupid (unless they’re just stupid regardless of whether they agree with us) and they most certain aren’t against us. In fact, they care about America just very deeply as we do. It’s time for us to stop the attacks. Today, listen to someone who’s different than you are; have coffee with someone of a different faith; reach out to a Republican – or a Democrat or someone who doesn’t share the same sexuality as you are. You might just learn something new, and in fact, you might be able to see in them the same humanity you see in yourselves and those who agree with you.

And, for the record: Patriots 38 Broncos 23.

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On feminism, pro-feminist men and group think

So, to start off with, a disclaimer: I originally posted this on Feministing.com, but it was taken off about 30 minutes after it was posted. Irony of it all? The post is about how the mainstream feminist movement doesn’t deal with dissent very well. Here, then is my effort to restart an old blog. Original content of the piece originally posted on Feministing is below.

I found feminism in the fall of 2005. I was an American soldier at the time, interested in going into politics, and started my college career as a political science studies major. Something about gender studies pulled me in. If I wanted to change lives and help women, I needed to know their plight. I signed up for my first women’s studies class – Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, it was called, and immediately got pulled into the feminist world. Feminism grabbed me by the collar, pulled me and loved and respected me. I eventually became a women’s studies major as well, and relished in the feminist organizations on campus and weekend getaways at feminist conferences. But as I grew within politics as well as the movement, there was a sense of uneasiness – one that I completely ignored and wrote off as male privilege tugging at me. Eventually, I’d had enough. I turned in my feminist card, began to look at feminism from a larger perspective, and while I still stand for gender equality and believe with every fiber of my being that we have a responsibility to end sexism, the majority of which directed at women, I could no longer call myself a feminist. I went quietly because I knew the movement wasn’t about me. It was about women. Yet, with the fallout this week between the pro-feminist males at the Good Men Project, I can no longer stay quiet. The problems I had with the movement are the very same ones that played out recently. To put it more succinctly, the pro-feminist movement, although good by intentions, currently faces many problems and is a symptom of the larger cause with the feminist movement. I want to address these problems today, not because I want to attack it, but because I feel it can improve.

 Being a man within the feminist movement isn’t easy. Right from the start, in Feminism 101 or whatever the name that version of the class is called at each Women’s Studies department, we are told to let go of our privilege and listen to women. We’re told to be aware of our gender and the power that it came with. We’re reminded that no matter how we view ourselves – that even if we think ourselves as just another well-intentioned guy looking to end gender discriminations, that we would be looked at differently by women, that we might inadvertently pose a threat by our actions, because of women’s experiences.

All fair points. Men within the movement do need to examine their actions and what they say, and indeed, men do have privilege and power within the movement. But that ends there. Because men are the minorities within the movement, and because we’re told to give up certain privileges and expectations, within the movement, men are not the ones in power. There’s nothing wrong with that. A reversal in roles within gender politics can be good. But such expectations become a problem when, rather being stuck in “gender neutral,” which is just as bad, the movement becomes stuck on gender overall. That is, when men’s gender becomes the focus of what they have to say, and women’s experiences become “truth” within the movement, we’re no longer practicing feminism; we’re deciding whether we agree with a person and what they have to say valid based on gender.

Because of that, any man who takes the time to speak about disagreements within the movement must be “mansplaining.” Any man who speaks ill of another feminist within the movement – as long as she isn’t pro-life or Naomi Wolf, is an MRA in disguise –a wolf in sheep clothing. Any man who challenges the experiences of women not based on her gender, but because some experiences might just be wrong regardless of gender, is considered a failure in feminism’s number one tenet – listen to women.

It is almost as if, within the feminist movement, there is a reversal in role in having a voice. Whereas within a greater society, the picture of obedient women who agree with the patriarchs, getting pats on the head and approval from men in power is a powerful one, within the feminist movement, it is also true for men. Suddenly, “truths” become the experiences of those in power instead of a group as a whole, and just as we’ve learned that those at the top rungs of the power ladder are less likely to see the whole picture, as they are blinded by their own privilege, the same can be said for that power within the feminist movement. I know it already. I know that someone will come along and say that this is yet just another argument from men who feel like their power is taken away, and are fighting for that power back. Such is not the case. I say this not because I want more feathers on my headdress, power at my disposal or more room at the podium, but because such a practice within the movement has hurt more than it’s helped the movement. Just as sexism has hurt our society as a whole, this practice – which is far from the sexisms women face in the “outside world” – has also hurt the progress of the feminist movement. As a result, much like women in patriarchy, men are conditioned from day one of the movement to be “good allies” – and by such – they are implicitly told that being a good ally meant spouting theories and ideals that the movement agrees with. Do so and one gets a reward and a pat on the back. Disagree and one gets labeled as a man threatened by having power taken away and, worse yet, a member of the MRA.

Yet another way the movement has silenced dissenting ideas is to accuse men who disagree with the movement’s certain messages of falsely being threatened. While, indeed, the language that some men use for fear of being silenced is ridiculously out of proportion, the truth is that some men within the movement are fearful of speaking out in disagreements for fear of being an outcast. Whereas “good allies” are taught to respect women’s perceived threats, and that based on lived experiences, women do have the right to feel threatened and men should take great care in recognizing that and not act in threatening ways, the experiences of men within the movement and the threats some of them feel, are cast of to the side. Any claims of being threatened, and let’s be fair – the threats men feel within the movement and the “reprisals” to be felt, are nothing compared to what women often have to deal with – are perceived as a silencing tactic by men to save their feelings, where men’s utmost concern is often not their feelings, but being able to speak truths within the movement without being outcast. In short, rather than listening to their allies, mainstream feminists revert to old and stale feminist theories, created originally not to examine the movement from within, but a gendered culture from the outside.

But all of this isn’t about men at all. It’s not about Hugo, it’s not about the Good Men Project, and it’s most certainly not about men. The fall out between GMP and Hugo is symptom of bigger issues within the pro-feminist men as well as the feminist movement: how to deal with dissent and intellectual challenges. Just as feminism challenges conventional wisdoms of gender roles within a larger society, there also has to be room within the feminist movement for disagreements and challenges of feminist theories that are stale, tired and no longer make sense. At the current time, there is no room for that. There is a monopoly within the movement, and anyone who disagrees is written off as sexist, antifeminist or misogynistic. The feminist movement and the pro-feminist men’s movement within it have a lot of growing up to do.

Within the mainstream movement, unless one is a cookie-cutter feminist, one is considered wrong. Suddenly, the pro-life feminist who works every bit just as hard for comprehensive sex education, to promote girls education and fight for gender equality, becomes a misogynist who does not trust women, and has no room within NOW or the FMF. Any woman, and I’ve seen the discussions within my own eyes, who acknowledges a need for feminism but doesn’t see it as being important in her own life for she’s lived a life of privilege, is labeled a “victim of the patriarchy” and apparently does know her own life. Feminists think she knows herself less than feminists know her. Feminists, again, I’ve seen firsthand, will claim she is blinded by patriarchy and she herself is a victim. Women who have passionate concerns of the feminist movement – the Naomi Wolf, Camille Paglia and the likes, all the sudden become non-feminists, and even get implicitly compared to Nazis in the process. And men get it too. All the sudden, for all he’d done for the women’s movement, Edward Kennedy, in endorsing Barrack Obama over Hillary Clinton, became a betrayer of women, according to Marcia Pappas of New York State NOW. Even well-intentioned and decidedly feminist organizations and writers, the Good Men Project is a good example, become misogynistic for straying from the narratives of what mainstream feminism requires of them.

Because of this, mainstream feminism as we know it becomes an echo chamber. Rather than being open to new ideas and looking at itself critically – “being introspective,” one calls it when encouraging male feminists to look within themselves – the current feminist movement becomes more interested in whether someone agrees with them. The measuring stick for being good feminists, and good men, in this case, isn’t about the work one does or the difference one makes, but rather, whether one spouts of ideas that are in agreement with others within the movement.

As a result, the people the current feminist movement set out to help aren’t helped at all. In fact, their voices are silenced. When Amanda Marcotte suggested sending a certain politician sanitary pads in protest over anti-choice legislations, rather than condemning the idea as being counterproductive, feminists jumped on board – all the while, young girls in Global South nations continued to miss school days when their menstruation cycles begin and they do not have any sanitary pads with which to take of themselves. Instead of calling out NOW for its condemnation of David Letterman for his affairs with a subordinate, feminist supporters jumped on board with it, all the meanwhile taking away the voice of the woman in question, without so much as asking her whether her relationship was consensual or considering that, perhaps, the relationship was a part of her choice. In short, the feminist movement of the current time will support women’s choices, but only if they agree with those choices. Instead of reaching out to men and young boys to mentor them on issues of consent and respect for their partners, and at the same time, listening to the concerns of young men and their experiences regarding sex and masculinity, feminists across America attended Slut Walk last summer and fall, choosing instead to solve the problems with one-way conversations rather than listening to the people they wished to change. After all, if men are the problems in the sexual assault epidemic, and they are, the right thing to do – the effective thing to do is to engage them in conversations, not to yell at them. In the end, Slut Walk accomplished nothing because mainstream feminists were more interested in having a day at the park with the people they agreed with rather than doing the tough thing and engaging the people they disagreed with.

In “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help,” Jackson Katz posits that men concerned about gender equality must live examples of being good allies to encourage their sons to do the same – often, Katz writes, this means supporting women’s causes and not turning a blind eye to Take Back the Night and other events with a focus on eradicating gender violence. What this does, he goes on, is impresses upon boys that gender violence is their concerns, too, and that it also falls upon them to end gender violence. While it is true that men must make good examples for young boys (and girls) regarding the eradication of gender violence and promoting gender equality, by simply attending rallies and not challenging conventional wisdoms of the movement also sends another message – that men can help, and that such help is welcomed, but only if it falls in line with the narrative an perspectives of the mainstream feminist movement, which sometimes can be wrong. It’s no wonder so many men and boys – and so many women interested in feminism – shy away from it. While they want to help, many are threatened by the possibilities of being called sexist, stupid, unaware of their own privilege, a victim of the patriarchy, and too many other names that have been thrown toward dissenting feminists when disagreements happen.

As a result of this, the mainstream feminist movement becomes less effective than it can be because it consists of people who share the same ideas and values about what works and what doesn’t.

Epistemologically, by only welcoming those whose ideas fall in line with their own, mainstream feminists not only denies themselves the ability to grow, but also the experiences and skill sets important to achieve its end states. Moreover, the rejection of new and dissenting ideas also takes away some of its credibility of becoming a welcoming organization. If feminism asks of men to listen to women, then the movement in itself must also listen to men – and women – who come to it with genuine interests and support, but may not share the same ideas

The world isn’t black and white; it does not consist of only good and evil; and, most certainly, it’s not about us vs. them. It consists of various ideas, some good, some bad, and we ought to focus on the ideas that work best, rather than whether someone working alongside us, for the greater good of the world, agrees with us.

In all, the fallout experience between GMP and Hugo is a “fail forward” experience. It can serve as a learning experience. It can allow all feminists to look within themselves and ask not whether others agree with them, but whether the practices and cultures within the movement are best for gender equality. Until it does that, until it chooses to welcome all ideas, and condemn bad ideas regardless of from whom such ideas came, and allows the men and women within the movement to share ideas that might not necessarily reflect the conventional viewpoints and theories of feminism, it will have shortchanged itself, and even more, will have shortchanged the people it wishes to help.



Why we have sex …
No, really. I am not crazy, or at least I’ve not yet gone crazy. It’s a legitimate question, based on my reading and research. So, again I ask: what is sex for and why do we have it?

Often, our conversations around sex consist of what we like, the things we are into, and our experiences with it. But rarely is the question asked, “Is our children learning …” no wait, I mean, rarely do we question the purpose of sex. The first question, many of you will recognize, is a Bush question.

In a culture where sex is framed by mass media and pornography, it’s important to ask that question, mainly because popular culture still frames sex as something men earn and women give. In said culture, where the purpose of sex is framed in a sense of pleasure, we see women as the source of pleasure whereas men are the takers of such pleasure. When framed in said mentality, we no longer see women’s roles in sex as one of humans, but rather humans who serve a specific purpose.

As such, said mentality takes away the idea of human connections. We simply see sex as mechanical, and not as an expression between two people. To be absolutely sure, there can be sex without love, and we have all experienced it, but when human connections are taken out of sex, it merely becomes a biological act, and has nothing to do with humanity. Further, it makes us see others as mere vehicles to our attainment of pleasure, rather than human beings with whom we can connect.

Whether we like it or not, sex involves emotions. Yet, within the pornography industry, it’s treated as a mere act. In the end, it teaches us to detach from our human beings. I am not saying every sex act ought to come with love. I am merely saying we need to see others as human beings. Once we see others as merely sex providers, whether paid or not, any feelings or empathy we have for a person is gone. I say this to merely argue the point that until we can see others as humans, with feelings, needs and emotions, the act of prostitution will still be one that views women as providers of pleasure, and not humans. Sex may be great on its own, but we need to recognize that the person from whom we are getting it has feelings and is a human being.

 
With such acknowledgment, we will be kinder and more in touch of that person. In such cases, date rape can certain be prevented. After all, no does not mean no if we do not respect the other person’s feelings as a human being. To be sure, I can be pretty dirty and kinky, but without sounding too cheesy, sex isn’t about just getting yourself off. There is a piece of oneself, a human connection, left in the other person. Despite of what pornography tells us, sex isn’t just sex. That other person is the body parts we like, is a human.

Again, I ask: why do you have sex? What’s it for? Is it merely a way to achieve pleasure, is it a show of mutual adoration, is it to create babies (who am I kidding) is it to show love and reward, or is it a way to attain mutual pleasure with someone you like and respect? By re-defining to purpose for sex, we too re-define how society sees homosexuality. After all, if it’s about mutual respect and culture, then why does it matter what is natural?



Anti-rape campaign. Join me!

Here’s the deal: you and I both know rape is a big problem on many campuses. We know the statistics. We know people who are survivors. We know that rape is more prevalent in social situations than any others. And most importantly, we have the answers on how to fix the problems.

Now is your chance to step up and take charge and be a feminist leader – whether you are an undergraduate, a graduate or otherwise. We need you to start a local chapter on your campus.

Rather than starting my own organization – I am piggybacking with another already existing organization that aims at community education and outreach to curb rape. The blue print to our goals and missions is being put together. We should finalize it in less than a month.

There are two goals: to education young men about rape, through encouraging them to deconstruct their masculinity and understand why they take the actions they do. Rape happens, I believe, because we live in a culture that eroticizes masculinity, dominance, and gender roles, in which men’s identities are defined through sexual conquests and ownership.

We’re going to hold talks at bars, freshmen orientation, and other places college students frequent. We’ll also have posters, discussion groups and outreach programs.

The second goal is to give women voices – the survivors of rape never often speak up because of the backlash and stigma that rape carries – and as such, to be able to lead a healthy life, both physically and mentally. By giving women a network to work through, we’ll be able to give women voices – and put their lived experiences at the forefront of the matter.

So, I need your help to start this not only on your campus, but in your community. This is something I want to start at all levels – as low as junior high school, in fact. I need you to spread the message to your brothers and sisters, friends, boyfriends, and anyone who you think might be a good addition to this, in your various cities and campuses.

The majority of my friends are women. I need more men to get involved to this, as to show rape isn’t an issue that affect women and that not only women can speak out on this, but this is an issue that affects everyone, and everyone has the responsibility to make our communities and campuses safer.

Contact me if you are interested. And pass on the information to everyone, please. My contact info is below.

Email: mloix002@odu.edu



America’s rape culture

As many of you know, I’ve been feverishly working on a “gray rape” project for class this semester, and the more research I do, the more I get disappointed with human beings.

Let’s suppose a web-site or company advocates and eroticizes murdering people, you’d have a problem with it, right? Even if it advocated the murders of animals, I am sure you’d all have a problem with it.

There are no web-sites of such …a google search for “murder pictures” shows the first website is an anti-choice website that shows abortion pictures. That’s pathetic, but that’s another story on its own.

But let’s do this: a quick search of “rape pictures” turn up this: http://rapeu.com/ (trigger warnings of all kinds. Please use caution.)

Now, in the US, child pornography is illegal. Even “cyber child pornography,” which denotes photoshopped pictures of legal adults onto the faces of children, is illegal. The law is this way to protect children from being exploited and their lives from being ruined.

Yet, web-sites like these are legal? I absolutely don’t get it. By that logic, a woman is only protected under the law (by this, I mean protection as people and not merely “women”) until she’s 18, and then she’s thrown to the wolves, no longer owns her bodies, and can be the subject of rape? If it makes sense that fake child pornography is illegal because while it does not hurt anyone, it promotes a culture of children exploitation, then why is it that we are okay with promoting a culture of rape?

It’s no wonder people think of rape as a violent act that happens only in the night, committed by some stranger. Rape does not have to involve violence. Just because he says “I love you” after sex without consent does not mean it’s not rape. Just because dude bought you dinner does not mean it’s not rape if you say no.

These websites not only promote violent rape, but they also, at the same time, presuppose the idea of what “rape” actually means. Not only does it decriminalizes non-violent rape, it also eroticizes violent rape.

What does this mean? It means if you’re a woman living in America, your body and sexuality aren’t owned by you. It’s owned by a culture that’s making money promoting your rape, the violations of your bodies, and telling everyone that these are perfectly okay because, after all, they are fantasies.

The more I spend researching and in academia, the more I angry I become. Feminism is supposed to make us more compassionate and loving, but the more of this shit I see, the more pissed off I get.

Maybe I am doing something wrong.



A new take on violence …

It certainly took a lot of time to deconstruct, but I think I can safely say that I’ve come up with the conclusion that violence – no matter how justified, is not a trait belonging to the feminist movement – and that just as we speak out against domestic violence, we must also speak out against all other forms of violence.

I write this because my journey to feminism hasn’t been an easy one – it’s been filled with trials and tribulations – particularly dealing with my tendencies to display violent toward those who I deem misogynistic.

But said thoughts and actions, no matter how well intentioned, still reeked of the patriarchy. As feminism asks males to give up our privileges, we too, must also give up the things that we hold closest to. For me, it was the ability to prove to others that I can overpower them, and can render them powerless.

This idea of masculinity, then, is also a social construct. Just as we are socially constructed to believe men and women ought to behave a certain way, we are also socially constructed to believe that violence is a part of masculinity – that somehow, if one walks away from a fight, or shows a desire for peace, that one isn’t “man” enough.

I was ready to give up other privileges, but somehow, I was still reluctant to give up violence. Somehow, for me, to give up violence meant to give up a part of me – that to give up violence, I would no longer be a man, but rather, an “other.”

To truly give up privileges means we should give up the privileges we are uncomfortable with giving up – not just those we feel like giving up. For me, violence was one of those privileges I did not want to give up. I’ve come to realize that feminism is not meant to make us comfortable. It’s meant to challenge us – the way we think and the way we behave.

Consider this: in speaking out against misogynistic actions and the objectifications of women, we are speaking out against social constructs of what it means to be men. To be consistent with ourselves, we must, too, give up violence.

We have to acknowlege that we are affected by the Hollywood version of what it means to be a human being – what it means to be tough – and what it means to be a man. For most, this means embracing violence.

Just as social constructs have affected women negatively in others ways, they also affect women through violence. By my mere actions of embracing violence, I am sending the message to others that, indeed, violence is acceptable. While all of the violent actions I embraced were gears toward those I believed deserved such violence, through their anti-feminist actions, what I did not realize is those violent actions in themselves, were anti-feminists.

After all, the violent actions I take will only uphold violence – by embracing violence, I only reinforced the idea of what it meant to be a man – and while I won’t be affected, such actions have a domino effect, as it further fuels the violence cycles, and the recipients of said violent actions are women and teenagers, whose minds are still impressionable, and thus the cycle of violence continues.

Being a feminist does not mean we get to pick which forms of violence to reject. The truth is all violence is bad – and by picking and choosing, not only are we being incosistent with our feminist beliefs, it also means we are upholding the very things we are fighting against.

For those who have been so patient with me in my walk closer toward feminism, thank you.



“Are you a feminist?”

I am a journalist for the military – that’s how I make my living. Telling people’s stories is how I earn the money for feminist conferences – and to go to school.

My career has taken me places – both while I was in the military and now – where I’d written stories of young women and men being brought to a dark and hopeless place – war – that many, sadly, never returned.

I’ve written stories that touched lives and made people cry. I’ve written “fluff,” a term used in our circle to describe stories that raise morale and make people happy.

Today, perhaps, I asked the one question that made me proudest – a question that, when I was given the answer, touched me as none other ever did.

March is Women’s History Month – and in keeping with the Department of Defense’s guidelines to celebrate various months of diversity, my employers put together a panel of “successful women,” and in front of their hundreds of collogues, told the stories of how they became successful in a male dominated society.

The one-hour event culminated with a question-and-answer session from the audience. I am in the front row, studiously taking notes. Yet, to my disappointment, not a single soul mentioned the F-word in the one-hour session.

I was appalled because one woman related the following story when asked to relate a “funny” story about a woman living in a male-dominated organization.

“After I was hired, I was told that I was hired because I had the nicest legs out of all 15 candidates,” she said. The audience laughed. I was disgusted.

I raised my hand – it was, after all, a Women’s History Month panel – and to let it go by without addressing feminism – a major, if not single, contributor to the empowerment of women would be a travesty.

“How much do you think your successes are a result of feminism – and would you consider yourself a feminist?” I screamed from my front row seat.

I’ve asked a lot of tough questions in my career – and I didn’t consider this question to be tough. It should have been an easy answer.

Yet, the panel members sat there and stared back. One could almost hear a pin drop were it not for the murmurs of the audience. Apparently, I asked a controversial question.

“I’ll take the question,” said a kind woman on the panel. She is a doctor and a librarian – and we have a certain connection in that she is friends with my professors – and a member and major contributor to the Friends of Women’s Studies program at my school.

She continued: “When I went to the University of Michigan, it was at the height of the Vietnam War. I was raised at home to believe I can do anything I wanted to. I got the same things at Michigan. This was when feminism was at its early stages.

“I believe the actions, writings, commitment and passion of the early feminists opened many fields. I owe my life to feminism, and yes, I am a feminist. But I want you to know feminism isn’t just for women. Not only women should be feminists – but anyone who cares about the betterment of the world and give people opportunity can be a feminist,” she concluded.

It was beautiful. I grinned. In front of the hundreds and hundreds of military personnel, this woman had the courage to stand up and identify herself as a feminist. In front of a patriarchal society in which the word “feminism” is frowned on more than the other F word, she told the world she is a feminist.

Perhaps with her answer, the kind librarian – one who I’ve looked up to for guidance and conversations, changed a few minds. Perhaps she’s made people see that feminism isn’t about men-hating, it isn’t about not shaving your legs, and it isn’t about women taking over in a society.

It’s about women empowerment. It’s about the deconstruction of masculinity. It’s about creating a level playing field so that we may all have the same opportunity.

After the panel, I walked up to her and shook her hand. “Thank you for that answer – you made my day,” I told her.

Perhaps more than making my day, she also made history – in changing the minds of some people – those, who, for too long have had a misconception about feminism.