Category Archives: 101
Yes and no. It’s true that things like the rape culture or horrible exploitation of women around the world look obviously more dire and disgusting than the American beauty double standard. It’s also true that they ultimately result in more death and abject misery.
But this sort of brush-off of the beauty double standard entirely misses the point: sexism is pervasive and maintained by things as meaningless as grooming regimens. The reason women are required to wear makeup, and men are not, and the reason why women own less than 1% of the world’s wealth while working two-thirds of the world’s working hours—paid and unpaid—are exactly the same. That reason is patriarchy, sexism, bigotry, and chauvinism. Whatever the name, it’s all just hatred of women.
Talking about make-up is a big no-no among the liberal feminist crowd. Even those that are not adherents of “SexyFun Feminism” ask those man-hating radical dykes to lay off their precious powders lest they be painted with the same brush as those disgusting radical feminists or lesbian separatists.
I’ll be honest here: talking about make-up and plucking my eye brows seems completely and totally irrelevant and superficial. I catch myself making that assumption based on a sort of “common sense”. Well this common sense might be common, but it’s certainly not sensible.
The mechanics of how and why the beauty and fashion industries operate the way they do—here and elsewhere—all return back to the fact that the natural state of a woman is something that is vile, disgusting, and dirty in this world. Like Dworkin postulates in Pornography, women are regarded as nothing more than “cunt”. By cunt, she means an object whose entire nature is encompassed by a sexuality that is sinful and wrong and an object which is hurt because it wants it, and must be hurt because the aggressor has no choice… being manipulated by the object the way that he is.
Women are naturally cunts, or so the dominate social doctrine goes. Our bodies are shameful. All of are parts may be dissected and separated from our individuality, because they all—in sum or in parts—have the mysterious power of sexual arousal in the male viewer. We cover our breasts, the center of substance production for infants, because their purpose has been usurped by the unwanted reaction of the male gaze to that which they deem dirty. We carefully groom our body hair into pleasing shapes, or remove it all together, because of its socially-defined connection to filth, to smell, to age, to masculinity—all things a woman cannot possess. We cover our acne, painfully groom our eyebrows, lengthen our lashes, and paint our lips with a cocktail of chemicals considered, by some, too toxic to even test on animals.
I haven’t posted in a while. Real life is complex and sometimes frightening. Thinking about issues as troubling and pervasive as feminism in a linear fashion, linear enough to put here anyway, is difficult. I am not really a linear thinker, and while I have studied quite a bit of logic, I find that I am most comfortable departing from it for the sake of lyricism and fanciful hypotheticals. That kind of expression doesn’t post well, I’m afraid. If you let me, I’d compose an entire novel of incomprehensible metaphors.
Nevertheless, I like to think about radicalism, primarily because how aware I am of my dissociation with humanity. I was always quite the radical kind of person. I had a forceful, yet subtle, personality even as a toddler. Being different is something that I seem to cultivate for the sake of it, and something that just comes naturally.
My tendency to be hyper-aware of social norms and find the most pleasure in defying them translated neatly to radicalism. I cannot think of a point in my life that I was not “radical” in some fashion or another. My brand of radicalism was never really a deliberate bucking of trends for the sake of irritating others. I’ve always wanted harmony more than anything, but not at the expense of my own convictions. I’ve always had a complex inner moral code. People tell me that I’m dramatic, but I feel that things I take seriously cannot ever be set aside for the stated goal of joviality or immediate harmony. This translates, of course, into alienating myself from social situations that particularly bother me in their defiance of my principles.
I am an intensely moral person. My acts of defiance and rebellion were always because I perceived the status-quo to be unjust. Even as a Kindergartener, I recall times in which I thought that my teacher was being monumentally hypocritical. This is taken as a sort of egoism, but it’s not really. I’m probably one of the most perfectionist sorts of people one could meet. As harsh as I am in my perception of others (a fact that is not known usually, because I’m more likely to walk away than participate, let alone start, a fight unless I’m cornered or intensely angry), I’m much harsher on myself.
Radical feminism sort of feels like home to me. It translates neatly into the disgust I have with the hollow and materialistic social obsession with abusive sexuality. It jives with my disassociation with normalcy, a fact unalterable by the mere reality of my personality. I think that I was born to be a crusader or a martyr. Not in the self-serving way either. There’s little doubt in my mind that even a fraction of the change I want in the world will be accomplished during my lifetime.
It’s corny, and stupid, but I believe strongly in a concept of God and fate. My “God”, and I use the term extremely loosely, means so much less and more than the typical monotheistic Western cloud-father. I could be delusional, but I do truly think that it is my lot in life to feel alienated most of the time. This dissatisfaction with the status-quo, I think, is such an intrinsic part of me because it is supposed to motivate me to make the change I wish to see in the world, or at least get the ball rolling. I’d die for my cause. I mean that. I’d gladly abandon all sorts of social norms for the sake of my principles, and have already done so, sometimes without even knowing it.
This, I feel, is radicalism. This is what I was born to feel, to do, to want. I feel disassociated with the current state of humanity, and deeply troubled. I am unable to depart from my moral code for any momentary and shallow source of pleasure. If I do, I punish myself, privately, for it. I would rather die now doing what I think I was meant to do than die rich in the lap of luxury at ninety. This is unshakable.
Truly, it’s scary, the force of my own conviction. The more I learn about the mechanisms of the world the more I hurt inside from just a glimpse of the unrelenting and unheard agony of others. I just can’t ignore Pandora’s Box once I opened it. To do so would be killing myself more than any bullet or bomb could.
This is my radicalism. This is my feminism. I’d let it kill me before I’d abandon it. I’d make a victim of myself before I’d close it off in a neat box and put it on the shelf for the sake of cooperating with chauvinists or those that are completely wrong.
I do so not because I hate the world. I love world, I love “God”, I love humanity. I see life where most might see death. I never lost that childish tendency to personify the flowers and the trees and animals. How could I ever deny the humanity of anyone, even my foe? The gap between what I feel the world ought to be, what humanity deserves to be, and what is it so vast that the thought of all that needs to be accomplished is as incomprehensible as the size of the sun to an ant.
But this is my radicalism, my oasis, my masochism, my purpose.
Even if the road is millions of miles long, I’d give my life to take a dozen steps forward.
So it was about damn time I did this post, seeing that how I’m getting some sort of audience now. In most of my recent posts, I’ve seen whole conversations derailed by the interjection of a man exclaiming “what about me? What about my oppression? What about my right to read only about the things that matter to me and not be offended or asked to introspect?”
For a while, I humored these questions. I discussed the issue of what it means to be a man for pages full of theoretical rejoinders. Sometimes, I even assuaged massive egos and avoided calling a spade a spade. Of course, nothing was accomplished for several reasons: (a) I’m working off a perception of masculinity gained by social interaction, media images, and my personal experiences with gender roles while most men are operating off a perception of masculinity that mirrors themselves, and is thus largely positive to assuage the ego, (b) I speak primarily of oppression through the patriarchy, and there is simply no contest between the suffering of women verses the general unearned privilege of men gained through this system, (c) I actually really don’t give much of a shit about exceptions to the rule of “men oppress women” because in light of the continued fear and oppression I face every day as a woman, the one or two times in a man’s year that he finds himself at the mercy of women is inconsequential.
Let’s just be totally honest here: men own and run the world. They possess 95% of the world’s wealth and 99% of the world’s land. There has always been a male head of state in 77% of the world’s 195 countries. There is currently a male head of state in 96% of the world’s nations (exceptions are Switzerland, Ireland, Liberia, The Philippines, Argentina, Chile, Finland, and India). Women have almost never been able to historically vote until they were granted suffrage for the first time in 1893 in New Zealand.
It is an undeniable fact that women, for most of human history, were brutally oppressed and abused politically, socially, medically, economically, and sexually. The very proposition that that legacy is inconsequential today, or that the wounds of millennia are healed, is patently absurd. I refuse to even debate any statements to the contrary.
Feminism is the movement for women’s full equality. It seeks to grant women the choices to do and be anything that they could wish to do or be that does not harm others.
Feminism is not any movement that seeks to control or limit women’s expressions, agencies, freedoms, or choices. It does not give them more than those that are not white or able-bodied, or socially beautiful or heterosexual or American ought to have, and it does not give them less than those than everything men have that they ought to have.
Feminism is not limiting a woman’s right to reproduce. It does not pressure women into choosing to abort with insurmountable economic hardship, public shame, manipulative and selfish partners, jobs that are hostile to mothers, and a lack of educational opportunities.