Why Would Women Grumble and Tumble Over Feminism?
Women are still proclaiming they’re not feminists over at Tumblr.
Tumblr may be a new thing, but women fighting against their interests is not.
Now why is that?
Before looking at that question, let’s look at the trend:
Feminists whine about stupid stuff, like a right to their wages
Two centuries ago plenty of women shamed and shunned feminists who worked for the right to: vote, own property, have a right to their wages, not be beaten by husbands, get a divorce, have a right to their children after leaving an abusive spouse… and more.
Geez, no wonder feminists were snubbed! Totally unreasonable.
If those 19th century anti-feminists had had Tumblr they’d be posting their little signs.
In the 20th century, feminists were backing the right to apply for any job, have equal pay, promotions and their own credit, use birth control, apply to an Ivy League college, not have curfews at colleges, not be raped by their husbands, not put rape victims on trial… and more.
Well, no wonder feminism was “the F-word” back then.
But alas, no 20th-century Tumblr to whine about it all.
I actually began wondering why women sometimes fight against their interests back when I was a kid growing up in a Christian fundamentalist church. All around me women were bashing battered women’s shelters and priesthood power for women. And whining about feminists.
Yet most women today actually think they are better off now than then!
But it’s hard to imagine people of color cheering on racism.
What makes the difference? The answer comes, in part, courtesy Simone de Beauvoir.
Women lack memory of equality, so inequality can feel natural and normal
First off, people of color know that there has been a time or place in the world, or in history, when they were “number one” — a time before imperialism and racism against their kind.
Women lack this memory. While there is evidence of non-patriarchal cultures, few women know of them.
When inequality is all you have ever known, it can feel pretty natural and normal to you. Like a fish in water, you don’t notice it.
Plus, feminism’s big gains can make it seem like we’ve reached parity.
But a lot of women also think that God wants inequality because their male leaders say so. When God seemingly says it, it can REALLY seem “meant to be.” And why risk Hellfire for a little fairness, right? Scary stuff.
But punishment may come in other forms, too. Like prison, abuse, ostracism, insults, or losing lovers. More on that last one here:
Protesting male privilege seems like protesting men
Another reason why women are more likely than people of color to disavow their own interests is because — for about 95% of us — our lovers or mates are men. Not only that, typically half of our children, siblings and parents are male, too.
That becomes a problem when a critique of male privilege is seen as a critique of men — which is common these days. When the fight against racism is misunderstood as disliking white people, people of color don’t have as much to lose, leaving them less fearful about standing up for their rights.
On top of that, we live in a culture that eroticizes male dominance, so that sexism becomes sexy.
But we still need feminism
Yet, we still have much to fight for.
The more patriarchal a culture, the more widespread violence against women is.
When patriarchal Europeans arrived on America’s shores they were shocked to learn that rape and battering were virtually unknown among the egalitarian American Indians they met.
Violence against American women is way down since the less feminist 1990s. Partly because of hot lines and shelters for women, mandatory arrest, policies against sexual harassment, and changes in men’s attitudes. But we still face too much brutality.
Women continue to be body-shamed, slut-shamed and blamed for rape. And war is still being waged against our reproductive rights.
Women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And when the vast majority of government, business and religious leaders are men, it’s harder to see yourself in that place, so you are less likely to try.
Meanwhile, subconscious messages sink into our brains, saying we are secondary as language orders men before women, or when females disappear entirely in images of man and mankind, and when “female” and “bitch” become interchangeable.
We no longer live in patriarchy and no longer need feminism?
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