Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Feminist Friday…. Why?

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Feminism… sigh….  Why has such an important word that signifies so many good and important things become so vilified? You would think that at this point in our country, in our culture, in society as a whole- that this discussion wouldn’t be necessary. But alas, it   is.

It seems like you can’t read the news, surf the net or get on Twitter without someone declaring their opposition to Feminism. I recently read a female blogger’s comments on a post where she stated that she could not sign on to be a “man-hating” feminist. That she would declare herself a “humanist” instead. I figuratively scratched my head and wondered, can’t you be both? Is there an either or? I am a feminist. I love men. Always have. Growing up I had a lot of guy friends. One of my best friends was a guy. I have been lucky enough to date really great guys. I married a man, one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. I had a sensitive, caring, compassionate brother. I have a loving Stepfather. A beautiful son. I think most men are pretty great humans. I would not want to live in a world where men were demonized or demeaned or forsaken. And I am a Feminist. Yes, you can love men, appreciate men and be a feminist.

Guess what? You can also dress however you want. You can own your sexuality and celebrate it, flaunt it, embrace it. You can put on makeup and heels. You can enjoy being feminine. Or not. Either way, none of this precludes you from being a feminist.

You don’t have to spend every waking moment devoting yourself to feminist causes. You don’t have to tattoo it on your forehead. It can be a part of who you are and one facet of your world, it doesn’t have to dominate your life. And you can still be a feminist.

The cause of Feminism has changed and evolved over the decades. It was once a fight for the rights to own property and vote became the fight for fair wages (still an ongoing battle) and the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. Thanks to the men and women who fought for these causes, we can rest easy on some of these issues. But that doesn’t mean that there is no need for feminism in 2014.

The fight now is about many things. It is easier to promote a cause when it is about a specific, tangible thing. When there is a victory on the far off horizon to be claimed. The goals today may be less quantifiable. My reasons for caring about it and talking about and trying to do something about it are varied.

The commonality of sexual assault and rape in our country and all around the world is appalling. The statistics are staggering. 17.7 million women in the United States have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. (Nat’l. Inst. of Justice and Ctr for Disease Control and Prevention).  One in four women attending college will be the victim of sexual assault or an attempt. This is not the behavior of a civilized world. What are the reasons behind this? What can we do to stop this epidemic? These are the things that I find to be critical issues in the feminist cause.

The fight for women’s rights around the world are important for feminists everywhere. We can’t insulate ourselves and only concern ourselves with what happens in our country. Our world is more intertwined and connected than ever before. I have received comments from women in Pakistan and India on my blog, comments about the limited rights and violence against women in their countries. We can no longer afford to be egocentric and stick our head in the sand when it comes to these issues affecting women and girls all over the world. Child brides are being married off to old men. Young girls are undergoing genital mutilation. Women are being raped as retaliation. There is a long sordid list of injustices happening around the world to women. Our world and these other countries will never be healthy until women are treated as equal.

There’s a thing called Feminist Friday in the blogging world. I first learned about it from a fellow blogger (thank you Gene’O) and since then have connected with other bloggers who care about these issues. Smart people. People with a social conscious and a desire to discuss these things. People who truly want to make things better. They have written some important pieces on this issue. You can read Alva’s Almanac about why Feminist Friday is important to her. Take a look at an important post by Diana at Part Time Monster about teaching our children to have empathy and see the struggles others go through. And check out Gene’O at The Sourcerer. I think it’s vital that men be a part of feminism. I think that men have a place in the discussion and the cause. I absolutely believe that you can be a man and be a feminist.

We will be having a Twitter conversation today about Feminism. About the meaning of the word and the perception of the word. If you would like to join us on Twitter or by commenting on this or any of the above linked posts, please do! On Twitter you can find us by #FeministFriday, or you can find me at @gkelly73.  Happy Feminist Friday everyone!


23 Responses

  1. I’m on the slow-side this morning; I still need to tabulate midterm grades for my students and write the piece down that’s in my head. Bravo on getting this out there.

  2. Of course! And I will be in and out of touch due to a demanding four year old. I will probably tweet in spurts but I figure we can continue the discussion for as long as needed! The tweets from you that were in Gene’O’s post have me thinking and I am excited to explore it further! See you on Twitter later!

  3. A very important post! Our feminist high school group has had to wrestle with a lot of antagonism due to the modern stigma on the word ‘feminism.’ The response we’ve articulated again and again is that we are the new generation of feminists, so ‘feminism’ will be what we make of it. If we refuse to engage with the movement based on false, negative assumptions about it, we forfeit the opportunity to harness its power.

    1. Very interesting, that exactly is what our Twitter discussion is about today. Is the word so stigmatized that we’re spending more time explaining it than we are fighting the causes? Should we try to “rebrand” and make it feel more inclusive for men to join the cause? (there are many men who care about the issues of gender inequality but don’t feel they have a place or feel comfortable chiming in) I honestly have mixed feelings. I want to embrace the word and not allow the negative propaganda to overrun all the work that has been done in the name of feminism. But at the same time, from a practical point, is it possible to call it something else and move forward without the “baggage”. Would that be outsmarting feminism detractors? Or giving in to them? I would love to know your thoughts!

      1. It is obviously a tricky issue. Our feminist club is technically called STAGE: Students Taking Action for Gender Equity – because we thought gender equity was a more universally appealing umbrella term than feminism – but most of our members embrace the name of feminist. Personally I think that “baggage” (some of which is legitimate – there were and still are instances of racism, classism, and misandry carried out in the name of feminism) is overpowered by the vast strides the feminist movement has made for the advancement of women. And if we acknowledge the mistakes made in the past and act towards their correction, the feminist movement will only become stronger.
        My co-founder and I kicked off our blog with a mission statement post that addressed a lot of these questions, if you’re interested:…nist-discourse/

        Great to hear about others having similar conversations to ours!

    2. Thanks for sharing your views here, and for your second comment.

      I’ve had a conversation about misandry elsewhere, so it’s interesting you mentioned that.

      I’m very happy to read that we have a new generation of feminsts coming, that you understand the importance of defining it for yourselves, and that you’re sensitive to all those things you mentioned in that second post.

      I followed your blog, and I’m easy to find. Happy to chat with you any time.

  4. Good for you! It really is a pity that this conversation hasn’t ended. I recently read that a state representative said women asking for equal pay made them sound whiney.
    There’s no reason that women shouldn’t be considered equal in every part of life.

  5. ” It is easier to promote a cause when it is about a specific, tangible thing. ” Absolutely. As always, you speak with such intelligence and grace. Sorry I missed the convo…though if I’m going to be honest, I suck at Twitter 🙂

    1. Thank you Kelly! I am still trying to navigate Twitter, but I am actually starting to enjoy it! I have found quite a few interesting bloggers that way… By the way, the discussion mostly ended up happening on the Sourcerer’s Blog, here’s the link if you’re interested. I think it will be an ongoing discussion and maybe a little brainstorming!

  6. Very well said, and timely too. I am so tired of the backlash against feminism by people who don’t quite understand what it is really about.

    Your comment about the female blogger who stated that “she could not sign on to be a “man-hating” feminist. That she would declare herself a “humanist” instead.” made me think of an article I read recently where the author described herself as having a “cool girl feminist” mentality, until she truly figured out what it is all about. Here’s the the link if you’re interested.

    1. Thank you for linking me to that article. It was interesting, but it seemed a bit all-over-the-place. I take issue with her using the label of “cool girl feminist”. What she was describing wasn’t any kind of feminist. I am getting to the point where I feel like trying to define what a feminist truly is just falls on deaf ears. We are having a continuous discussion about it and talking about ideas for combatting the misconceptions. You are welcome to read the comment thread and chime in! Here’s the link:

  7. Gretchen,

    I caught your comment on Jennie Saia’s post “Writing for Change” at Tipsy Lit. I have the misfortune to live in one of the most feminist jurisdictions in North America. I had a feminist family “justice” system–social workers, lawyers, judges, and public service bureaucrats–knowingly take my children from me and give them to the “care” of my former wife (even though I was acknowledged to have never, ever harmed them).

    That would be the former wife who proved to be an expert-confirmed child abuser. This is actually de rigueur here in Ontario, Canada.

    As a result of my subsequent inquiry into feminism, I found that much of the statistics that it generates are highly questionable. There is a reason that some academics are now openly referring to it as “ideological” feminism (i.e., radical, gender, or gynocentric feminism).

    The opposition to feminism is not so much based on chauvinism as it is both on rational disagreement with its false scholarship and a justified response to the systemic feminism has abused.

    For a rational set of opinions regarding feminism that dissents from the “official” view of feminism as a noble movement seeking equality and justice, I recommend the following books at a minimum:

    – “Who Stole Feminism – How Women Have Betrayed Women,” by Christina Hoff Sommers, Ph.D.
    – “The War Against Boys – How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men,” by Christina Hoff Sommers, Ph.D.
    – “Divorced Dads – Shattering the Myths,” by Professor Emeritus Sandford Braver, Ph.D.
    – “The Myth of Male Power,” by Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
    – “Legalizing Misandry – From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men,” by McGill University academics Dr. Paul Nathanson, Ph.D., and Professor Katherine K. Young, Ph.D.

    You might also find the story of (former feminist) Professor of English Janice Fiamengo of interest. Janice saw through the false scholarship of feminism and began to see with her own eyes all the harm it was doing to. She is now a rational anti-feminist activist. Very nice lady, whom I have had the privilege of meeting on occasion.

    You might suspect the accuracy of feminist “research” and claims after reading these books or hearing Professor Fiamengo’s talks on Youtube. I can also refer you to the peer-reviewed, published work of Professor Don Dutton, which discredits the feminist psycho-educational paradigm of domestic violence, especially the Duluth Model / DAIP rubbish.

    My nonfiction book (first of two) on the topic explains why reasonable and decent women (such as yourself) who self-identify with feminism encounter such adamant opposition to the movement. I’d be happy to send you a complimentary e-copy once the corrections are done to the galley proof, which might be as early as next week. Test readers, especial women, are telling me that it is a gripping read that competes with the best of fiction. My plain-language explanation of feminism’s core nature appears to resonate with women, even rational feminists such as yourself.

    No movement that is sincerely devoted to justice and equality could ever have wilfully and maliciously subjected my children to expert-confirmed child abuse. Yet it did, and it regularly does.

    Apology for the long comment.

    1. I appreciate your comment. And I will take a look at some of the links you have provided. I have never been one to blindly follow anything and if there are other sides to any story or issue I am always willing to consider them. Especially when I am approached in a non-aggressive and productive way. I must say that the situation you describe with your children and ex is appalling. My view of feminism is not to forsake the rights or what is best for anyone, man woman or child. To do so as a point of feminism sickens me. I can’t imagine what you must be going through. I consider myself a feminist, but I am many other things too.I care about a lot of issues. I especially care about injustice- to anyone.

      1. Gretchen, I had you pegged as a decent person the minute I read your post. This part of your character shines through as being obvious.

        You might actually find that reading my book before the ones above to be of benefit. I recognized that the expert-confirmed narcissistic personality traits of my ex-wife, which I had lived with for 19 years, corresponded almost perfectly with something called “covert” narcissism. This has existed in academic papers and books since the 70’s. What I recognized that I don’t think anyone else has is that this is the feminine form of narcissism. I used the book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” by John Gray, Ph.D., as the basis to make this assertion.

        Whereas male (or “overt” narcissists) typically seek attention in the form of admiration, my experience is that covert narcissists seek attention in the form of sympathy. That is, they can manipulate to be perceived as “victims” or in need of support and succour.

        Using this gender perspective to interpret existing elements of narcissism theory results in rational explanations for poorly understood things like Munchausen by proxy, for example. Covert narcissistic Mum needs to be perceived as great in a feminine way (narcissistic grandiosity), while also getting tons of sympathy and support (covert, feminine narcissistic supply for the ego). How does she achieve this? By having a sick child that she’s so devoted to.

        So she either injures the child, fakes the child’s medical tests, withholds medications or overdoses them, etc. Since the nurses and doctors all believe she is so devoted to her sick child, it must be “true” (narcissistic mirroring). Mum wasn’t interfering with the child feeding and medication tubes during her ceaseless bedside vigil (according to her), she was “straightening them.” (This is actually documented.)

        I found the same essential feminine gender narcissistic traits in the feminists in my case who were persecuting my kids and me as I had in my former wife. I saw it again in the books that I cited above, although these authors weren’t aware of gender narcissism. I then found one NYC psychoanalyst/Ph.D. psychologist who had recognized the same thing about feminists and had self-published his controversial research findings.

        The hard-core feminist needs to believe that she is a victim, but as a biological woman and not as a social woman. This presents the feminist (hard-core) with a problem: all women share the same reproductive biology, so she can’t be an inherent victim of being a woman if all women aren’t similarly victims.

        If all women have to be victims, that only leaves men and society to be the villains. So, the (hard-core) feminist’s mind will twist everything so that women being victims of men and society (i.e., patriarchy) can only ever be perceived as being true as much as possible.

        Thus, feminists are pathologically driven to make patriarchy “true.” This happens via “research” and “theory” and court decisions and policy.

        I’ve had a couple of women tell me that they’ve had near epiphanies reading my book, given that they had dealt with narcissists in their lives and had never understood things.

        This isn’t to say that there aren’t genuine women’s issues (i.e., the heinous practice of female circumcision), and I would never try to dissuade someone from choosing such an issue as a personal cause to support. However, when one analyzes feminism critically, it actually acts as a social force to perpetuate either the perception of women as victims of men and society, or worse, women actually actual being victims. By its nature, feminism can never permit women to not be victims. I actually use feminist “theory” and policy on domestic violence in my book to show how this is true.

        Thanks for your kind words. I’m in a pretty good place right now after 5+ years. if you’re ever interested in the book, no offence / no worries if you aren’t.

        Appreciate your time and the warm reception here, which is kind of you. Thank you.

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