Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Feminism: Occasionally a dirty word, but not in this instance

Various of my esteemed co-authors here at the Dyke Squad have put forth their views on the topic of feminism, and I thought, my God, what kind of fool was I for not rashly throwing my own slap-dash opinion into the mix?

In a different forum, on a different topic, there was a discussion of gender roles; by this I mean (or rather, I delved into) the controversial gender-differentiation of science for boys and English for girls-- And I girded my loins and said the following:

Why would it be bad for each gender to have particular things that it can do better over the other? The big argument I tend to hear (and bear in mind that I have not read extensively on this subject; much of this is just random thought and magpie-like evidence) always seems to be on the female-to-male side of things -- as in, "Why can't girls be just as good at science and math?" I'm not hearing the opposite ("Why can't boys be good at English?") nearly as frequently. It seems to me that the big problem is that part of this argument requires the inherent belief that math and science is some sort of higher form of thinking than any of the humanities -- and therefore, because men are seen as more capable of this sort of thinking, that somehow women are being kept away from the Big and Beautiful Brain Thoughts.

Except why is it that the humanities are considered craptastic? Perhaps that is the fault of the dominant patriarchy. It may even be the fault of what our techno-conscious society is requiring of its new workers. But I think there is a very big problem with women themselves, feminist and non-, hating their own abilities.

Say women are naturally (if only slightly) better at keeping house, taking care of children, and understanding Beowulf -- why is that bad? Who is declaring it so? If men say it is silly -- why are we putting up with what they say is right and proper? By putting all our force and thought into proving ourselves only in the male paradigm, we are denying our own selves and self-worth, and often at the cost to our lives and the following generations. Girls now learn that it's not enough -- or important -- if they are good at English; many women believe that they must have full-time careers regardless of whether they have children or not (or whether, based strictly financially, they have to work or not), thus in many cases leaving their children in the care of people, often women, who the "working" women deem as chained slaves to the patriarchy and (at the same time) somehow lower-class in thought or beliefs because these women might rather take care of children than pursue the "better," more "pro-woman" lifestyles.

If I truly believed that feminism meant that I had to think that the male talents were the better ones, and that I could not appreciate or even (heaven forfend) participate in the female talents, I would be very sore pressed to think of feminism as anything other than another tool of oppression -- or, in this case, repression.

For me, the true thrust of feminism is to give honor, appreciation, and respect to anything a woman might wish to do. Should she have the ability to -- and the desire -- she should enter the sciences and do well and bravely in it. Should she have the ability to understand the nuances of literature -- and the desire -- she should do the same as the science woman. If a woman wishes to learn for no other reason than for the sake of learning -- even if she plans to do "nothing more" in life than raise children! -- she should be free to do so and without censure, for there can be nothing wrong -- nor should there be -- in a woman wishing to increase her knowledge. And finally, should a woman go through life doing only what women are "supposed" to do, and this is what she wants -- moreover, if she is happy with it, and does it well -- then she deserves victory in that as much as any other woman in this world.

Regardless of a woman's life or choices, she should find respect in everything she does. I am completely uninterested in a form of thinking that requires anything less.

Shortly after this, I apologized to all and sundry for recently rereading Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night, which has an unhealthy affect on my syntax.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katha Pollit is so much smarter than me, so I shall let her speak for me: here about difference feminism.

9:44 PM

Blogger BB said...

Hey, I randomly came across your (seemingly community blog? not quite sure if you guys post individually or together) but just wanted to tell you I found it really interesting and got me hooked. Neat stuff- BB

11:11 PM


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