Thursday, September 18, 2008

Question for Courtney E. Martin at Feministing...

I wandered over to Feministing for a bit and I only got through the latest post before I had to stop and do some thinking.

The poster, Courtney, put up an adorable picture of a sleeping man and a cat. Above it she wrote (emphasis mine):
A little hot cat on boy action for you. The boy is mine. The cat is Kima. Also mine.
I wanted to ask Courtney herself about her choice of this phrase, but I am currently having major issues signing in to comment, so I will ask the question here:

I know that this was a quick post, but the phrase "The boy is mine" was rather offsetting for me. One of the major issues that feminists have worked to correct is the idea of women as the property of either their fathers or their husbands, and that women had no autonomy whatsoever. Your choice of words, to me, reduced this man to some sort of property that you could "own" (making him "yours') and that idea is not one that sits well with me at all. The focus of my feminism lies in trying to correct the wrongs that women have and still do face in our society because of their sex, gender, etc. and it is not about elevating women to the position that men once had over them. I strive for equality. Maybe I'm a little off here, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I really think that if we want to advance the rights and lives of women, we must understand that even language can have consequences (it promotes ideas and can sometimes shed light on some issues about which we are not duly sensitive), and that we should never revert back to old ideas that were harmful to women, just because the roles may now be reversed. Because wouldn't that just make us the bad guys?

I don't want to sound like I am being all "What about teh MENZ!?" here, but I do think there is something to be said about equality vs. the ere switching of power roles between men and women.



óscar said...

Interesting blog, although I don't like too much the extremes sexists, nor feminist nor male chauvinism. I think that women are smarter and more inteligent than men, and I don't discovery America with this. But, I hate see women doing the same bullshits as macho men. If you're fighting for better jobs, better wages, no more differences,... it's ok with me. But don't act like the assholes who think that they're god because they have a penish. Cheers!!!

wendylchappell said...

I had the same thought about the phrase. But, I have learned to let things go more and allow others to work out their own stuff without needing to hop on it (sometimes). I appreciate your concerns.

Amelia said...

Well, part of the reason I felt compelled to call Courtney out on her choice of phrasing was because as a feminist and an author, her words reach many, many people.

I also believe that as long as sexism exists in our language (be in casual or not), it will continue to operate in our lives. It doesn't matter if a feminist is saying it (and being sexist against a man...or a woman) or if a man is saying it. I believe that as long as these sorts of ideas and bits of information are allowed to remain in our daily lives, unchallenged, we will face problems.

lindabeth said...

I totally agree with you, and I think you are right to point it out. Women's autonomy over herself, her body, and her sexuality are such important feminist issues that we don't need to put out any double standards.

Renee said...

Here is something that no one else is thinking about. The "boy" in question is a man of color...specifically a black man. Calling an adult black male a "boy" is racist, don't pass go, don't collect 200$. As we know boy is a way of debasing black men and creating them as unequal. I don't like this term one little bit.

Amelia said...

Renee, you are so right.

ZoBabe said...

Have to agree with everyone here on this. While it is common, and relatively harmless, to use derogatory language in a joking manner, with people who know you and get it, using it on a widely read blog is another matter.

D said...

Well, how else was she supposed to phrase it?

Why not have a problem with her saying "boy"? If a male had said "girl" there'd be a problem with that.

I mean, should she have said "The autonomous, independent male is the same one that made the conscious unforced choice to cohabitate in a romantic way with me" ?

I think "The boy is mine" is easier.

In a sense, someone you are in a relationship with IS yours. Just like you are theirs.

That's her boyfriend. He's not someone else's boyfriend, after all. Is it any worse if she had said "That's my boyfriend"?

The "boy" in question is a man of color...specifically a black man. Calling an adult black male a "boy" is racist, don't pass go, don't collect 200$. As we know boy is a way of debasing black men and creating them as unequal. I don't like this term one little bit.

I highly doubt that it had anything to do with it, other than "boy" being another way of saying "male".

Amelia said...

Personally (and I think this is very reasonable), I do not think it's that hard to use someone's name (not calling them "the boy" or "the girl"). It's also more respectful.

I also think that saying "the boy is mine" is a lot more possessive than saying "this is a picture of my boyfriend, soandso, and my cute cat."

It was a quick choice she made, and I have issue with it, as I stated in my post.