Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane professor, MSNBC host, and public intellectual, recently did a Q & A with the readers of Jezebel. The entire piece is a must read, but especially great is this answer to a question on whether ”the current state of black feminism is a dying revolution:”
For me, feminism is a question: what truths are missing here? The feminist thinker and organizer should always be asking this question. What are we missing? Who are we excluding? How is our analysis true, but still limited by missing truths? For me this means feminism creates a posture of intellectual humility and a willingness to question ourselves as much as we question systems of oppression. I am always distraught to encounter feminists who are utterly sure of themselves and never willing to admit to their own need to grow, expand and change. That strikes me as inherently anti-feminist.
It’s this approach and writers like Dr. Harris-Perry that keep me questioning,
including especially my own position as an educated, middle-class, white cis man in a heterosexual marriage. I think it leads to both self-doubt and self-improvement. I hope it leads to the awareness that the personal (self-)improvement of men like me should be a side-effect and not the goal of feminism.
(I use the “doing feminism” in the way Dacia Mitchell used it on the This Week in Blackness podcast sometime last year, unfortunately I can’t remember the specific episode. I found the quote on feministing.)
Women are supposed to be the ones on the balcony, not the ones down below professing their love. We don’t think the female romantic is romantic. We think she is a predator. We think she is desperate, unstable—Fatal Attraction, the cougar, the spinster, the troublemaker. But deep emotion in this age is a radical act.
Seriously tho. Why *should* she be asked to smile?
Asking a woman to smile is to make her more approachable. It’s to make you feel more comfortable - not her. I, personally, have zero fucks to give about being approachable to strange men on the street. Women are not here to entertain and please random folks.
Asking me to smile is akin to asking me to jump. Um. For what?
There’s this weird responsibility placed on women to be happy and lady-like and pleasant all of the time. It rids us of being able to express our own range of human emotions.
No one is asking for men and women to not interact with each other. That’s silly. This project is asking for women to be interacted with as if they have agency over their own bodies.
Creator of the Stop Telling Women To Smile project.
The presence of love does not in itself argue
for either equality of status nor fullness of communication.
"Do Gamers Need Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminism?"
Good, short video by Game/Show, PBS, on the attacks on Sarkeesian’s criticism of misogyny in video games. The in-group/outside effects described in the video are in full effect in the comment section.
Feminism gave me a right to speak that I didn’t feel I had beforehand. Without feminism I don’t think I would have started blogging because I would have thought who the fuck am I, why would anyone be interested? Whereas, because of feminism, I now feel I have a duty to speak. For example, when the police came round after the first rape threat and said: ‘Do you want to take this guy to court?’, my first thought was ‘Not really, because there might be awful repercussions and I’m a bit scared’. But because of feminism, I feel I have a duty to take it to court and to see it through.Caroline Criado-Perez: ‘Twitter has enabled people to behave in a way they wouldn’t face to face’ The Guardian
But why should women “deal” with this? I am incredibly lucky to be doing the job I am doing at the moment – and painfully aware of the fact that I would not be able to make music for a living without people on the internet caring about our band. But does that mean that I need to accept that it’s OK for people to make comments like this, because that’s how women in my position are spoken to?
I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism. There will always be bad reviews: such is the nature of a free press and free speech. When you put your work out there, you are accepting the fact that people will comment on it, but it is your choice whether you read it or not. (Kathleen Hanna sums this sentiment up nicely in this interview.)
What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from “a bit sexist but generally harmless” to openly sexually aggressive. That it is something that “just happens”. Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”.
I can recommend the entire op-ed - and Chvrches smash hit Recover.
(Warning: the music might autoplay when clicking on the link)