Sunday, January 11, 2009

My friend, the (secret) feminist

Last night I was up until 4 a.m. talking with a good friend of mine who lives in my suite at school. She has been friends with me through my feminist transformation and is now taking a Gender and Women's Studies class in order to fill her diversity credit.

We watched Mulan last night because neither of us had any work to do, and I found myself pointing out all the gender stereotypes in the movie (even though Mulan is by no means the worst in this arena). I apologized to my friend for possibly annoying her, and she told me that she had never thought about this movie that way before. We had a brief discussion about movies as agents of socialization and how the Disney princess movies often promote sexist ideas, and she decided she might give a presentation in her class about these movies.

It was nice to see her make sense of something relating to feminism and find it interesting.

Later, we went to my room and had a long talk that evolved into body image issues. I talked a lot, as this is my pet cause as a feminist, and I realized how difficult it is to pinpoint the specific causes for these issues within specific people, and how hard it is to change one's thinking once these ideas manifest themselves.

My friend also had a lot to say about these things, and in a lot of ways we are similar. We both have issues with our bodies, and we both know that some of the things we say/think are based on falsely held ideas and are often not fair. But we can't seem to change the way we think. We are both victims of female oppression in a society that holds beauty as a marker for success and worth above all other measures, and the marker is set unbelievably high.

The only difference between my friend and I when it comes to issues of women's rights and certain invisible oppressions is that I identify as a feminist and my friend does not. She said that she does not think of herself as a feminist because she's not "active about it" in the sense that I am with this blog.

Well, dear friend, I want you to know that you are a feminist. If you don't want to call yourself one, that's fine, but your ideas and beliefs when it comes to women's rights make you a feminist.

EDIT: I just checked my e-mail, and saw this article. Apparently, losing weight is so important that people might want to start creating false memories about bad experiences with fatty foods so they won't crave those foods.
"Although it's not ethical to create false memories in people, making an association between eating a fattening food and getting ill may be beneficial," says Elke Geraerts, a psychologist from St. Andrews and lead author on one of the studies. "People may avoid those foods in the future."
It's not ethical, but hell, if I can lose weight, sign me up!


kelly g. said...

It's not ethical, but hell, if I can lose weight, sign me up!

That was my initial thought, too - "Totally unethical, but it sure beats a nation of fatties!" Sigh.

Re: negative associations, I accidentally created my own. As a kid, I was messing around on a skateboard in the living room, eating BBQ chips while watching tv, and the junk food combined with the activity made me sick. To this day, I can't so much as smell BBQ chips without getting nauseous. (At least I didn't send the board through the tv, though.)

Negative food associations aren't very pleasant, actually, especially if it's a common food that you'll have to tolerate in everyday life. But again, I guess it's better than being a size 10.

lindsay said...

It always makes me a bit sad to see how many people (women in particular) have feminist/progressive/pro-woman positions or believe strongly in things like fair pay, a women's right to choose, etc who won't call themselves feminist. It's that whole bra-burning, man-hating angry bitch stereotyping done by the media and the far right.

I actually had this very conversation with someone I dated - he wouldn't call himself a feminist because he didn't like those associations whereas I actively claime the title and try to provide a more rounded, realistic depiction of feminists.

Amelia said...

Yeah, I get the line all the time from people who knew me in high school, "Oh, well, you're one of the few feminists I can talk to because you don't [insert stereotypical thing with negative connotations here]."

I mean, yeah, some feminists are self-proclaimed man-hating bitches (and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that), but the fact that becomes the stereotype for all feminists, when a lot of them aren't those things, is obnoxious.

yellowpansy15 said...

My initial thought on reading "bad experience" was to leave a sarcastic comment. And I'm still going to.

One time, a strip of bacon stabbed me. I can't eat it anymore. Thank god, though, cause breaking 110 pounds would be a nightmare.

On a different note. Mulan is so incredibly sexist. But, so is Beauty and the Beast: The beast has to rescue the woman in need. She nurses him back to health. Gaston needs to kill the beast to win his maiden...ah, gotta love the media, right?

Amelia said...

Yellowpansy: Mulan is sexist. I admit it. But it's one of my favorite Disney movies because of the premise: Girl stands up for what she believes in, kicks butt, and gets major props. Mulan wasn't the helpless, "I'm just gonna sit around waiting for a man to come to me" type, and I liked that. That doesn't mean it's free of sexism. Not at all.

:) Thanks for commenting.