Friday, August 1, 2008

Well, you ARE such a feminist. Get over it.

I heard this in my French class yesterday:

Girl: (mumble mumble mumble) 'Cause I'm such a feminist, right? Haha!

To be fair, I didn't hear the context in which the comment was said, or know much about the girl's personal history. However, as a lover of sarcasm and verbal ironies, I can tell when someone says something they don't mean. Tone of voice is everything here, and the word "feminist" was just dripping with disdain.

We had just finished small group discussions about the movie Apres-Vous about a man who saves the life of someone trying to commit suicide and while trying to set him back up with his girlfriend (who dumped the suicidal man), falls for her himself. It's not a particularly remarkable film in itself - the women are simplistically one-dimensional and the film doesn't even pass the "two women talking" aspect of the Bechdel Test. The main female character complains that she doesn't like being alone aka not dating anyone.

There is a scene where the two men each climb up to the woman's balcony and look in, wanting to go in and woo her, hands poised on the door handle. It's set up humorously, but I'm not sure what's so damn funny about stalking someone. Not to mention the multiple references to the woman's ex-boyfriend (after the suicidal man) encouraging the woman to drink so she'll be easier to get into bed, after she dumps him for cheating on her. The whole plot revolves around the main character trying to get the suicidal man and the woman back together, even though the woman calls the man overly-emotional and someone she doesn't want to date. The woman's desires and thoughts have no bearing in the plot of the film; she has no agency - it just matters to get her hooked up with one of the men.

All in all, a run-of-the-mill bad comedy with misogynist overtones; at least I know now the French can make just as shitty movies as we can here in America.

So when the girl said, "'Cause I'm such a feminist, right? Haha!" I'm guessing it wasn't because she was pissed about the balcony stalking or drugged rape or all-around negative female portrayal, but that someone said the word "feminism" and she jumped to the bra-burning angry dyke stereotype.

Here's what I have to say to that: Do you like being able to go to school? Are you for equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender? How about your best friend from Mexico (someone she mentions in class), do you want her to make 53 cents to every dollar a white man makes? Are you comfortable with handing your bodily sovereignty over to a politician who cares more about making sure you have no say over the activities of your uterus than about you? Do you like being able to afford birth control of any kind? How about having access to birth control in general? Will you concede all decisions about sexual activity to a future spouse? Do you like having the choice to get married at all?

Well then, let me break the bad news: YOU'RE A FEMINIST.

I know, it's kinda shocking, but it's true. Don't worry, your leg hair and armpit hair aren't going to grow out instantly and you'll still be attracted to whoever you want to be. But it's ok. You can call yourself a feminist and we won't think any less of you. Seriously. It's ok to be a feminist. Some might even say it's good to be one. You'll have better sex and relationships.

So... yeah. You ARE such a feminist. Congratulations!


frau sally benz said...

I vote for making up a crapload of "congrats! you're a feminist!" stickers. Maybe some "hate to break it to you, but you're a feminist" stickers too.

Lindsay said...

Hah, "hate to break it to you, but you're a feminist" would be great. Feminist merchandise rocks.

Amelia said...

I'm getting a feminism-related tattoo this winter break, because I'm sick of hearing stuff like this. Yeah, I am a feminist. Look, the fact is permanently inked on my body. :)

Habladora said...

There is often one of 2 things going on when someone who clearly falls under my definition of feminist tells me 'I'm not a feminist':

1. They only understand the stereotypes and have no idea what the word actually means (which you mention), or

2. They have an aversion to being seen as political in any way. Why people seem to think being informed and having strong opinions is a bad thing baffles me, but it is an attitude that seems fairly common.

Amelia said...

Your second point, Habladora, is a very good one. I encountered such attitudes a lot during my political growth during high school (I did not identify as a feminist back then, but the same attitudes came into play). I became a very outspoken pacifist, and a lot of my girl friends shied away from me because I was often challenging boys (boys that they often liked) to defend their positions on the "War on Terror" etc. It was like they didn't want to scare off members of the opposite sex by voicing their opinions, even when they shared mine. It was so sad that even though I knew I had supporters, no one would stand up with me.

And the worst part? Many of them seemed to do it because they didn't want to come off as a loud, bossy, obnoxious type because then they wouldn't have dates for homecoming/prom/etc.


Lindsay said...

I never understood how the image of passive, opinionless women became appealing.

Oh wait... maybe it has something to do with the media. And maybe patriarchy. Just a guess.

Pinturas por Mujer Mexicana said...

Great blog...I am Mexican, please check out my womens paintings blog: