Let’s Debunk the Most Common Misconception About Feminism, Shall We?

One of the unfortunate things about being a feminist is how many fights you get into. I don’t mean physical fights. I mean, like, arguments. Most of the time (but especially on the Internet), when people find out you’re a feminist, the first thing they do is try to poke holes in your philosophy.

A lot of these people do it in a pretty brash way, challenging you outright. Others, though, do it in a softer way – a way that appears as if it’s trying to be tolerant but is actually just another form of prejudice.

So I wanted to take a bit of time today and chat about the number one argument I get into: the idea that feminism is all about beating men.

This is the one I hear the most often. It’s usually something along the lines of, “I’m not a feminist because I’m against anything that’s not equality.” Or, “I just don’t like feminism because I don’t think women should be more powerful than men; I think they should be equal.”

Well duh.

I’m not sure why people think this. Most sensible feminists I know don’t adopt anything close to this philosophy. We don’t want to beat men. We don’t want to have more rights. We don’t want to make more money. None of that business.

Equality is exactly what we want. However, stuff, in general, just isn’t equal. And that’s kind of why we have to fight and advocate and make a little noise.

And, you know, I really can see how that can come across the wrong way to some people. Still, though, I can’t help but think some of that argument comes from people who don’t want to lose the power they have over other people.

So I thought it was worth clarifying. Maybe an example would help.

I think we can all agree that the Civil Rights movement was a good thing. At least I hope so. I’m going to assume we do in any case. Anyway, I don’t think anyone among us would say that African-American folks were trying to beat white people. They were fighting for the same rights.

And that’s kind of what we’re doing. I don’t want more rights than anyone. I just don’t want less, either. The ideal future for me does not involve me making more money than everyone else just because I’m a woman. But it certainly does involve having a fair shake in the corporate world.

It also involves having fair representation in politics, media and executive America. Kind of see what I’m saying? I’d really like to debunk that myth once at for all –  because as soon as we destroy the idea  that feminists are trying to beat men, we can start operating like we should be: on the same team.

What do you guys think? Do you think we should start debunking this myth? Don’t leave me hanging! Drop me a note!

It’s Almost Summer Blockbuster Season. Where are the Superheroines?

Well it’s about that time again. Summer block buster time: the time of year during which good writing goes completely out the window in favor of massive, ground-rumbling, IMAX explosions. And you know, when I was younger, I really did like the summer block buster season.

And I love it for the same reason everyone does: it’s an amazing escape. I mean, who does’t like to be transported to a planet ruled by apes, or a world in which gigantic alien robot semi-trucks are our only hope of fighting off equally deadly evil robots?

However, since I’ve really started thinking critically about gender and the cultural and social systems that contribute to our view of what gender really means, it’s a little more difficult to enjoy the summer blockbusters.

Well, it’s not that, really. Because I do enjoy them. I still like going to movies, grabbing some popcorn and settling in for a couple hours of total nonsense. So, before you skewer me, just know that I do like the movies, and I still go.

That said, it kind of gets on my nerves that there are absolutely no female leads this summer. In fact, there hasn’t been a female superheroine for a very long time. If my research is correct, the last female lead was in 2005, with Elektra, a god-awful Daredevil spinoff. Before that, there was Catwoman, which was also atrocious.

It’s almost as if Hollywood producers said to themselves, “Well those two movies didn’t make much money. Do we really want to invest in another female-driven hero movie?”

Well, Hollywood, here’s a bit of news for you: those movies weren’t bad because the lead was a woman; they were just awful movies! It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.

Really, this isn’t anything new. Hollywood (and most on-screen entertainment) has historically been dominated by men. And when you have an entire industry run by mostly men, it’s difficult to get products that have any kind of focus on women.

And that’s okay! My fellow feminists may be surprised to hear me say that, but let me repeat: that’s okay.

I’m not saying nothing needs to change. I’m mostly just saying the men write the types of characters they can identify with. So, I think the solution is fairly simple: we don’t need to treat the symptoms; we need to treat the root cause.

Let’s just hire some more women in Hollywood. More female writers, producers and directors. This isn’t a plan. This is just a blog post. Just thinking out loud on the internet, here.

So go. Enjoy the blockbusters this summer. Just think about it critically when you do, as always!

5 Basic Ways to Be Respectful

5 ways to be respectful My mother was very stern with me about one thing – that was manners; how to act around adults; yes ma’ams, no ma’ams – in one word, respect. She drilled it into me at an early age. And since then, it’s been a very useful skill.

There is a certain satisfying air when you do business with someone, followed by a good hand-shake, and there is mutual respect. You both walk-a-way satisfied, and, more satisfying, you feel like your time and business was well-spent. Unfortunately, it seems, some people did not have the same up-bringing.

And I find myself instantly judging someone when these five simple things are not taken into consideration (and know I don’t feel bad about this; really, it’s simple good manners.)

1. Keep your word. If you don’t keep your word, then what are you worth? We live in a social time – everyone is connected, and there are plenty of people out there that would love to replace someone who does not keep their word. Not to mention that following up on an agreement is a key part of integrity; which is the most valuable of human traits.

2. Direct but not overwhelming eye-contact. When you meet, make eye-contact. When you are having a conversation, keep appropriate eye-contact. This is good manners. On the opposite side, though, you don’t have to be intensely looking into someone eyes. There is nothing more uncomfortably than feeling like someone is looking into your soul when your engaging in an atmosphere of work.

3. Don’t assume. Pretty simple stuff. If you have questions about something, ask them. Better to be sure than sorry. Some people make the mistake of assuming because they assume that asking a question will reflect negatively on their intelligence. Quite the opposite. It shows you’re a normal, thinking, acquisitive human being – which is inherently more useful than someone who follows through tasks witlessly.

4. Handle issues privately. If you have an issue with someone, or you feel you’ve been wronged, do it privately with the person who the issue is with. It’s a good thing, and it preserves the dignity of both parties. Don’t engage in water-cooler gossip. It makes you look bad, and, in a way, more of a target of future water-cooler gossip you’re the butt of. Not fun.

5. Be on time. Last but not least – the opposite, really the most important, and seemingly most simple, and certainly the most effective – be on time. Don’t own a watch? – get a watch dummy! If you’re not use to wearing a watch, and you have a bad relationship with time management, get a watch for the sole-purpose of keeping track with your important engagements. This will be one most important object of your life. Of course these are only five examples of good manners and being respectful. They are an abundance. But, they are five, really good practices that will have you excelling in work and in life. Respect is the cornerstone of every successful and empathetic society. Something Confucius says comes to mind, “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”

Why Are Some Hobbies Seen as “Male”?

I’ve always been something of an adventurer and a hobbyist. I just like to do lots of stuff. Lots of stuff interests me, and I’m very easily excited. So, when I hear about some kind of activity – especially if there is a strong community behind it – my first instinct is to say yes.

So, I have a pretty long list of hobbies: music, ping pong, crossfit, painting, biking, writing, etc. It really goes on and on. I also don’t think a hobby has to be a lifelong thing. I really enjoy picking up one hobby or another each summer or something.

And, of course, you guys know me well enough by now to know that I think critically about everything. Nothing escapes my critical thinking radar, and that includes my hobbies!

In short, one of the things I’ve found super interesting is that a lot of hobbies are seen as very gendered pursuits, whether it’s male or female. For instance, a few summers ago, I was really into camping and bird watching. Just about every weekend, I would pack up my tent and binoculars and go bird watching. I just really loved it, and I found it super fun.

I would also do it alone. And, to my surprise, that shocked a lot of people. Apparently, going camping in the woods alone is a supposedly a “male” activity. Kind of strange, huh?

The point is that even hobbies have social constructs tied up in them. Think of Rhonda Rousy, the UFC fighter. She has spoken over and over again about what it meant to take up a hobby totally dominated by guys.

And really, I don’t think there’s much to do about it. I just think we owe it to ourselves to try new stuff that we think we might enjoy without worrying so much about what the cultural tradition dictates. If it’s fun, give it a whirl!

Some of My Favorite Feminist Musicians

It can be hard for us feminist girls to find quality feminist musicians out there that we really identify with. And that’s especially true when you consider that I’m not the feistiest feminist. So I’m really not into the angrier stuff (although I think it’s important to get angry about some stuff).

I don’t like angry music most of the time. I usually like happier music. I do, however, like powerful music, and that’s cool. Also, I tend to enjoy many different genres. I also like digital instrumentsstuff like the Casio PX 850.

Anyway; I’ve spent a lot of time looking into the views and opinions of musicians I suspect might be feminist (suspect from their lyrics, anyway). So I wanted to share them!

First on the list is The Queen. Yep; Beyonce. She gets a lot of flak sometimes, but she’s honestly one of my favorites. Not only is her music pretty feminist in itself, but she also takes a lot of pride in her personal strength, and she’s not ashamed to develop her own brand, rivaling that of her man, Jay Z. Plus, she really leans into her own sexuality, which is something a lot of women are afraid to do, and it’s something I think is very important.

Second is Kurt Cobain. Cobain was the man, and there’s no denying it. He was also a pretty well-known feminist. He pointed out on numerous occasions that women were “totally oppressed” and that heavy metal was a fairly sexist genre, which was really cool. Plus, his music is just great.

Finally, another one of my favorites, Amanda Palmer. The awesomely eccentric Palmer is pretty infamous for several of her shenanigans, but one of my favorites was when, after some paparazzi jerk caught a wardrobe malfunction, she stripped totally naked on stage at her next show. Stick it to ‘em, Amanda!

Why Feminists Need to Do Good Deeds

I’ve been a feminist for a pretty long time now. And for a lot of those years, I’ve found myself combatting all the negative stereotypes associated with this ideology. I’ve also found a few trends among my fellow feminists that really do bother me, especially in the context of the age of the internet.

Here’s one of the biggest examples. A lot of the people I know who are feminist rarely take action. What do I mean by this? Mostly, I mean that their feminism extends to the real of the idea only. They are idealists, which is great and important, but it’s equally important to not be only an idealist.

Some of my friends don’t even vote, and if you’re going to be a feminist, that should be the very first thing you do: sign up to vote and go do it.

However, just getting angry – just getting vocal – while important, isn’t enough, I don’t think. We need to take action. But not necessarily in the way you might think.

I’m not talking about protests. And I’m not talking about strikes. Again, all that stuff is important. But I’m talking more about doing basic good deeds. Volunteer for a kid. Go to your local phlebotomy clinic and give some blood (the phlebotomists will thank you!). Pick up some trash around the neighborhood. Take a few minutes to say hi to a homeless person (or buy him/her lunch).

The idea is that feminism should be about fighting for women’s rights – of course – but it should also be about helping other people. Because, above anything else, at the heart of feminism is the idea that all people are basically equal – that they are basically, intrinsically valuable. So we should lean into that and cherish it. So, that’s my idea: go do something good and do it for the good of everyone?

What do you guys think? Leave a comment!

Let’s Chat About Gendered Careers

So, we’ve talked about a lot of stuff on here, and what I find myself thinking about more and more is this question: why are some things in our culture “gendered”?

There is a lot of stuff that is gendered. We talk about hobbies in a previous blog post. Clothes are certainly gendered. Educational paths are certainly gendered; for example, there is a much high concentration of women in educational degree programs, while guys dominate computer programming fields.

And that extends to career fields as well. Nursing is the one that always springs to mind for me. Well, all medical fields for that matter. My mother worked as a billing and coding specialist in the billing and coding department of a large insurance firm for a long time. And can you guess how many guys she had in her office?

Exactly zero.

And the opposite is also true. How many female plumbers do you know? How many male art teachers? Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but I t’s pretty clear to me (and hopefully you) that certain professions are very, very gendered.

I think there are a couple of causes to this. First, some of the activities associated with these professions are gendered. For example, plumbers are seen as “handy,” and handiness is something that is usually attributed to guys; or, at least, we tell guys they are supposed to be handy, and we applaud t hem when they are.

We tell girls, on the other hand, that they are supposed to be nurturing, which, if they accept that and play into that archetype, makes them great candidates for teaching and nursing jobs.

So, my question to you is this: is it wrong? Is it wrong that some jobs and gendered and some jobs aren’t? Do we need to fix it? Or is it fine? Is it even a big deal? I want to know what you think! So leave a comment!