America’s Next Bill Clinton!


I am not a feminist, but …

Really, why are some young women so reluctant to identify themselves as feminists?

We met in a women’s bathroom at a gay club. A few friends and I had gone to an AIDS fundraiser earlier that night, and decided to drop by the Wave for drinks. Having to go to the bathroom and a bit sloshed, I announced that I had to pee. Someone suggested that I used the women bathroom instead, because I was considered “fresh meat” for one reason or another in the men’s bathroom.

A friend was nice enough to walk me into the women’s bathroom, and there I met and shook hands (after we both washed of course) with a nice young woman from VCU. After about an hour of meeting and talking to her in the bathroom, I ran into her again. She was extremely attractive, so I continued our conversation.

Upon minding out I am a women’s studies major and feminist, she said, “I am not a feminist, but …” and started listing a long list of reasons for women’s rights.

In my extremely fogged up mind, I recalled an article I’d read as a freshman in my women’s studies class called, “Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies.”

If I can recall correctly, the reason for it is that young women are afraid of the stigma that comes with feminism – the image of bra-burning, man-hating, armpit-non-shaving, head-shaving, dyke. They were, as the article said, also afraid that they had to give up their sexuality for feminism – that, somehow, calling oneself a feminist means that one could no longer love a member of the opposite sex.

So, why is it, I still wonder, that so many young college women are afraid of being labelled as feminists? I contend that it’s because of the above false image of feminists – that somehow feminists are strange creatures; we hate sex; we hate men (I do, anyway); and we hate anything that’s normal.

While I hold these beliefs to be false, my question is this: even if they were true, so what?

Take away those actions and behaviors and feminism is left with love, compassion, empathy, equality and a sense of responsibility, in making the world a better place. What’s so bad about it?

Yet, time and time again, I run across women (and men) who take feminist positions, but never want to describe themselves as feminists for fear of shame.

The truth is you should never be ashamed of your work in trying to make the world a better place. You should never have to apologize for the desire to work toward equality and social justice. In fact, you ought to be very proud of it. I am proud of you for it.

The next time the conversation comes up, proudly and emphatically claim yourself as a feminist – and answer with a loud and resounding “Yes,” if anyone ever asked you whether you are a feminist.

Bill Clinton was right when he said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what’s right with America.” You are everything that’s right with America.

On that note – I want a “This Is What A I-Am-Not-A-Feminist But looks like” t-shirt. 😀



Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm

If you’re a friend, you know my story from last semester, and how I nearly failed one of my women’s studies classes, so I am rededicating myself, thus you’ll see a lot of notes on feminist theories – or maybe not. We’ll see.

Tonight, for theory class, I am reading Anne Koedt’s “The Myth of Vaginal Orgasm,” and in this piece, she more or less trashes vaginal orgasms and that “myth” thereof.

While some points I agreed with, I didn’t like the fact that she entirely dismissed vaginal orgasms and that they, indeed, do happen.

Rather than offering alternatives she, much like Freud, whom she also trashed, totally dismissed one for the other. While Freud suffered from the “penis complex,” I think the author here suffered from the anti-vaginal intercourse complex. Rather than saying that both the vagina and clitoris can be stimulated to achieve orgasm, she favored one over the other.

What are your thoughts? I think that while well-intentioned, Koedt was biased in this report, in that she is a gay woman (not to say that lesbians are bad or not they do not enjoy sex in a ‘natural’ way), thus not having the epistomological privilege or vantage point to speak for all women.

I love you al!

Marc



I am not a flirt! I am just a (3rd wave) feminist!

Recently, I’ve been told – by more than just one woman – that the actions I take when around them tend to me misleading – and that I tend to be, according to some, a “flirt.”

I find this problematic and interesting because I am a pro-feminist male, and as such, I tend to treat everyone equality without regard to gender, but I cannot help but think somehow, because of my behavior, I am ending up confusing the shit out of some people, and in a sense, “leading them on.”

Because of my activism on and off campus in the feminist as well as progressive politics movements, I often dine with a lot of women – and have a lot of what I call “friendly outings” with them.

That’s certainly not the problem. The problem comes in when, in our interaction, I may say things that – in a gendered society as we know it, be considered flirting.

A touch on the shoulder here, a brush on the lap there, a “you’re amazing here,” a “you’ve got a beautiful mind,” there. Just compliments – and just friendly touching – all of which are welcomed. But then I’ve been accused that, because of this, women are taking it as a sign of a come on, and that I somehow don’t “follow through” with my actions, because I then go on and gloat about Emily and how wonderful she is and how much she means.

Perhaps that’s what bothers me the most about the gendered world as we know it – people can’t appreciate and show affection for one another – albeit a very platonic and friendly one, without having to feel as though they are somehow showing signs of romantic interests.

It’s not that I feel bad for myself – I live in a world with male privilege and have absolutely no rights to bitch or complain. I just feel bad that I may be leaving people with the wrong impression.

Really, in the end, is a brush on the lap, stroking someone’s face, or a compliment about how much you like them as a person, really a sign of a come on?

I mean – as a straight male, I do that to male friends, too. It’s a sign of affection. It’s a sign of closeness.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just be a robot, sit there and show no signs of emotions or affection whatsoever. Maybe then, no one would accuse me of being “well on [my] way to be America’s Next Bill Clinton – in behavior.”



Feminism is my religion

In my circle of intellectual friends, be it at a cocktail lounge or progressive coffee shop, the question of, “What is your religion?” always seems to come up – and rightfully so. Understanding a person’s religion allows us a glimpse into their personal lives and values and convictions.

Often times, my answer – although I am a Unitarian Universalist, is that “love is my religion” – in short, that I believe in fairness, justice and equality. It’s a short way to explain what is sure to be quite a complex (yet simple) religion.

Lately, though, I’ve also told people I am a feminist because feminism also incorporates that values of UU-ism into its beliefs. I do wonder, though, which came first – am I a UU because I am a feminist, or am I a feminist because I am a UU?

This much I know: feminism, for me, is a religion. It is my religion not only because my political ideals are shaped by it, but also because I am required to, as a matter of the personal vs. the political, “act like a feminist,” and behave in ways that are feministic, and not a misrepresentation of feminism.

Just as Christians are judged based on the behaviors of a few bad apples, feminists can also be judged in such a way. Because of that, I feel the obligation to, at all times, act as “holy” as possible in a feministic ways. Although, because our beliefs are feminists might vary, it’s also a struggle to correctly represent all of feminism so that people do not misunderstand us, or fail to understand that ours is a just and right cause.

At least Christians have the Bible – and a code of ethics by which they must follow. What do we  have as feminists? Nothing. It seems aside from a big circle of support for one another, we rarely have anything to turn to as we navigate and wade through the complexities of what it means to be a feminist in our personal lives.

Is it wrong to buy clothes without knowing if they were made in a sweatshop? What about ownership of an animal (as been discussed over at feministing.com)? If and when we choose to get married, is it okay to have a traditional wedding, and let ourselves dream away of the perfect day?

As for gender roles, how much do we reject, and how much do we embrace, as to still be a part of a normal society? Is violence acceptable as a means to further our cause? Can “rough sex” be feministic? What if we enjoy music with misogynistic lyrics? As feminists, are we supposed to be vegetarians? What of preaching as feminists? Do we go door to door, or do we just live our lives and set good examples? Can a feminist, much like a Christian, be feminist in name only? How do we find out the answers to all these questions? To whom do we turn for answers? How do we know it’s the right answer? How can we deal live normal lives without compromising our values as feminists? How do we go on being feminists without, in the eyes of many, being annoying?

Sometimes, I wish there were a feminist Bible. Our lives would be much easier. But by no means am I bitching – nor do I have the right to. While it’s a challenge to have to question each and everyone of my own actions, I know that I am doing so from a privileged standpoint. There are millions of women who are living through the plight of being oppressed everyday.

But this, I believe, can start a good discussion on how we ought to act as feminists. The personal, after all, is political.