You are here

Feminist Unclear on the Concept

Ok, I'm not usually into blog rants, especially political ones, but I saw a link to this article in a tweet by the Yarn Harlot (Stephanie didn't care for it, either), and just really felt the need to toss my $0.02 out there. Simply put, the author of the article complains about how "Women are girly. Again", and about how we have "lost" a bunch of hard-won "bad-assery", because some women blog about cupcakes and knitting and such. She doesn't get it. She's unclear on the concept of feminism, IMHO.

First off, anyone who thinks knitting is inherently girly doesn't know squat about the history of knitting - used to be, EVERYBODY knit, and only men could knit professionally. It was only after the advent of the knitting machine, when hand-knitting became a dirt-cheap-paying job that it was relegated to the women and children. The author seems to imply that we can't bake cupcakes, knit, or think Hello Kitty is cute, (at least, we can't blog about it) and still be tough. Well, sister, I love to bake, I knit, and I have a black belt in karate. I have held my own ground-fighting with guys half my age, I can break boards with my bare hands, and have had more advanced martial artists tell me that they wouldn't want to fight me, because even though they could take me down, it would be a hard, painful process for them as well. Go ahead, tell me that my knitting means I'm not tough. I really hope that anyone that ever tries to mug me thinks the way you do - meanwhile, I'm a martial artist, with pointy sticks in my hands. I like those odds. Tell a woman who's most cherished role is that of Mom that that makes her not tough - have YOU delivered two babies over 9 pounds, with no drugs?

But that is really not my main objection to the article. It is this: Feminism isn't supposed to be about not being girly. It is about having the right to CHOOSE whether or not to be girly. For ages, women had sexists telling them that they HAD to be feminine. I don't think the goal was EVER to exchange those sexists for neo-sexists that tell us we CAN'T be girly, or else we are somehow setting the female gender back. It is not about listening to supposed feminists telling us that anything traditionally feminine is worthless, and only that which is traditionally masculine is worth doing or considering. What is there about that that empowers women? What I believe our foremothers fought for was the right to define OURSELVES, rather than letting other people define us, for us - even well-meaning authors that think that not meeting her definition of "tough" means that we roll over and are dominated easily. I am sorry that the author cannot see how "tough" and "feminine" can coexist. I'm sorry that she cannot see that even if they don't, that's not what it is about. It is about the right to choose who you are. She may choose to eschew so-called "ultra-femme domestic activity", and that is her right. However, the fact that I enjoy some of the activities she rejects does not make me less of a feminist than she. In fact, I'd argue that the fact that I acknowledge that women who adore "girly" things like pink and ruffles may be as feminist as I (and maybe more), makes me more of one.

I don't think anybody who knows me would place "girly" on the Top 10 list of words to describe me, despite my love of baking, knitting, and my Mom-ness. I would generally scoff at being described as "girly", because in my particular case, I think it is as off-base as describing me as "short" or "quiet", not because "lack of girliness" is some sort of virtue. I will admit that I usually do not claim the label of feminist, because it is often (mis)used by those with whom I do not care to be confused (such as female supremacists, and the "girliness sets the women's movement back" crowd), but there is still a limit to how much maligning of the concept I can take, without commenting.

It is possible, I suppose, that I am alone in my view of what feminism is supposed to be, but I dare to hope I've got more people with me than does the author of the article. Who's with me?

Blog Terms: