Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Not a Feminist but....

I am a feminist. I can tell because every time someone says 'I'm not a feminist but...' I feel like smacking them. I don't think gender has moral value. I think the majority of beliefs about gender transmitted by pop culture are seriously off base. And I think people experience limitations due to their gender--both externally and internally imposed.

But you might note that none of those statements are about being a woman per se. They are about gender, and about being gender-aware. I think that we are almost ready to start moving beyond an exclusive focus on the civil rights of females. I think we can continue that struggle whilst considering the issue of gender, of gender-typical conduct, sexuality and society in a somewhat 'broader' sense (so to speak).

And while I do not in any sense reject the notion of feminism as a sub-set of that issue, I do not think I am alone on feeling a little impatience with being limited to feminism as the discipline that is on the forefront of the debate. Case in point, arguments of little substance that seem to echo across the femiverse. Ms. magazine puts a super-hero-styled Obama on the cover, and include a matching wall poster. Y'know, I get that this suggests Ms. readers will/should be Obama fangrrls. But whatever. This isn't even as unimportant as the apocryphal hill of beans--it is at best a bean (maybe a bean and a half, or even a has-bean).

But as Girl in Short Shorts notes: "Of course, feminists get offended about almost anything." So we must, it seems, drag out the same old issues--whether a man can be feminist, whether Obama claims to be one (and whether he really is or isn't), whether Hillary supporters are being insulted (or not), yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. Often with a heaping aside of gender insult (i.e. "Panties in a wad", etc) and renewed debates about what feminism really is.

Why, in a world where genders are socially constructed and even biological male- versus female-ness is not seen as a strict dichotomy, are feminist debates typically framed as two points of view (within feminism, and a few dinosaurs still arguing against it--like dull and duller here). It is also implicit that one point of view is totally right and the other wrong, with endless debates about intent and outcome. Even if this method of discussion could determine anything, like something as basic as what feminism really is, I am not sure I could bring myself to care.

Can't we please move on?

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