Bye Bye Miss American Pie

I do not have a penis, ergo, I am a Feminist. That is how it works.

In terms of understanding MY feminism it has gone something like this:

Child: Blissful ignorance.
Teen: stubborn denial.
Young Adult: Grudging acknowledgment.
Late 20’s: Solid grasp.
Early 30’s: (Sometimes latent) Reality.

I have NEVER wanted to shout from the roof tops, ‘I am Woman’ or anything remotely close to that. I have, however, on more than one occasion (desperately?) wanted to just be Me. As if, there were some impediment that would not allow me to exist (partake, participate, contribute, etc) solely and  completely as a worthwhile human being. And so there was. It has not always been my gender that has mediated my worth; my socio-economic standing, race, moral/philosophical grounding  and education have often mediated my ‘inclusion’ in a given cultural experience (to say nothing of demons, baggage, etc.). However, gender, my being a woman- has been an ‘issue’ in arenas and engagements pervasively through out my life.

Ranting, retching & BITCHING 

It would seem that a woman (much less more than one woman!) is unable to express concern (forget out right RAGE) over inequality without such expression being termed–we’ll go with the all-encompassing BITCHING. Cool. I would like to take this opportunity to BITCH (I call it sharing, but what do I know.) about a couple of the experiences I have had as a feminist/woman.

While the following experiences in no way encompass all the experiences that I have had relative to sexism (blatant or subtle) they are among the moments in my life which stand out as representative of my coming to understand how pervasive sexism and by extension discrimination is. They do not center around jobs, paychecks or public episodes per se. Rather, they are just instances in ordinary everyday life that I ‘GET TO’ carry with me, always.

Standing On the (Street) Corner

A few years back now my office mate and I are just off campus (either just dropped off or awaiting the shuttle), standing on the corner, her in her Denver Broncos gear and me in my Vikings gear. We are rehashing the preceeding weekends games, as only two cultural historians (read: HYPER analytical) that are rabid about football can. Random man passing by says, ‘Nice sweatshirt.” No idea to whom he is referring, doesn’t matter. He goes on to say, “Your boyfriend a fan. (No, it wasn’t a question.) Blah, blah, blah, blah.” Literally, the man initiated a conversation based on a false assumption, inserted a nonexistent male ‘worth’ conversing with and then proceeded to babble on about his take on football (which did not register, hence the blah, blah, blah!) and then summarized with some shit to the effect of ‘it’s cool you’re into his sport!’ Exit scene.  Innocuous enough, right? Wrong.

I can not recall a single instance in my life where I did a ‘walk by’ raping of the identities of two random people. It is a violation of a person’s very being to just randomly dismiss their worth. What exactly in that scenario had we ‘done wrong?’ In what way, shape or form did we invite the dismissal of our agency entirely? How do you have people right the fuck in front of you and decide they aren’t worth engaging but it’s cool to imagine someone they represent that is? File that under WTF.

A Girls Gotta Eat

A couple of weeks ago, my BFF and I were at the grocery store down the block from our house shopping together. She, my friend, has a large bust. There is no two ways about that. She happened to be wearing a V-neckline which is in no way inappropriate. She is fully clothed. We’re at the grocery store, did I mention that? We are in the produce section (oh, yes this is cliched.), when the store MANAGER makes a b-line to the other side of the fruit stand we are at, hails over two other men and begins all but SHOUTING, “I love mangos! Guys, do you love mangos? Loooooooooooove mangos!” All the while he is, handling some random fruit and leering at her tits. Awesome. Even better? When she responds in an equally loud voice (both of which are carrying through out the section, fyi.) with, “FAIL. You FAIL.” While looking him straight in the face. Wait, my favorite part? The look of befuddlement that spreads across his face!

Apparently, Captain Obvious had no idea that his actions were transparent. Or, was he confused because the woman with the big boobs wasn’t as stupid as the adverts swore she would be? How does a PROFESSIONAL man come to believe that objectifiying customers is his right? Given his demonstrated idiocy, are we to suppose that he treats ALL people equally? Really? I can’t imagine he follows men to the salami section or the bakery swinging loaves talking about ‘I like them hard.’

 

Is Nothing Sacred 

File this under my least favorite example. I’m sitting at the bar, having just got off work (at said bar), eating dinner and bullshitting with the bartender that is on. Dude sitting to the right of me is lamenting the loss of alternately the love of his life or the wretched bitch that dumped him. He overhears my friend an I talking movies, I have no idea what the details were but he (idiot on right) says to me, “Star Wars?! What is your favorite character?” This, just so we are clear is a challenge, I can only assume in hindsight, to determine whether or not I actually know what Star Wars is. I answer, in the span of time it takes to utter it, “Chewbacca.” He responds, “Pfft. You only say that to get Guys.”

No shit? It’s weird because at 4 years old when Chewy entered my life, I’m fairly fucking certain, I did not file away his impact on me as a means to get laid later in life. At 4 when he (Chewy) entered my life, I would guess that I thought that is the coolest pet/stuffed animal/best friend EVER!

At 14, when Chewy was still my favorite I know I thought, who doesn’t want a Best Friend that is packing and can rip your arms (YOUR not to be confused with MINE) out if you piss him off?

At 34, as sure as I am sitting here, I can tell you that Chewbacca is now as he was then the moral center of that rag tag group of heroes (in which I include Vader). Though I could not have articulated it at 14 or 4, I have no doubt the traits of Chewy’s character which appeal to me today are the very same that appealed to me then and nary a one involves getting a man!

In the hundreds of times I have watched the Star Wars Saga in my life, in the thousands(?) of conversations that I have had on the matter, I had only ever experienced mutual geekdom, admiration and enthusiasm EVEN when vehemently disagreeing with a fellow Star Wars dork on some point.

Until, that is, the idiot on my right, reminded me that in all things, at any given time, my values, passions, beliefs, joys, worth and existence  can and will be reduced to whether or not I have a penis.

Awesome.

the Good ‘Ole Boys were…

I too have had enough of the feminist propoganda, the tired arguments, the near constant ‘bitching’ about equality and equal treatment.  It sucks.

It NEVER ends, ergo, I am a feminist.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I luuurve the Star Wars example.

    THIS:”It sucks…It NEVER ends.” Indeed, until parity exists, until we can walk through a grocery store without leering and comment–and, most of all–expectations that we are guilty of some wrong for speaking up against such objectification–until the rape culture in which we participate daily in the smallest and most hideous of ways is dismantled–

    I’m a feminist.

    The young woman who is raped by the guy she fancies. She blames herself because she was drunk…the way she was dressed…the things she said…blames herself and not him. The advice givers who suggest that yes, indeed, she is to blame for her rape–that it was punishment for some socially perceived wrong. The students for whom it is utterly shocking to hear: There is one was to prevent rape: don’t rape people, so used to the victim blaming normally associated with such conversations.

    The students who call me by my first name (even ones who I do not know) or by Mrs or Miss, but unfailingly refer to my male colleagues as “professor” or “doctor”…though we have the same degrees and title.

    The professor who was denied tenure because of her poor monograph publication record (though she had scores of journals and presentations) and her male junior colleague who received tenure despite NEVER (even now, 10 years on) having published a book. That she had turned down the advances of colleagues who made those tenure decisions of course had nothing to do with it.

    So while the example of pseudonyms that spurred this morning’s conversation may seem insignificant–it isn’t.

    • Ah, academia. There are two examples I thought of sharing directly related to my time in higher education. One, the female student who failed the open book Constitution quiz (as did the other 3 women in her group) because she knew all the answers. Her Dad told her over and over what was in the Constitution. As an example, it clearly states the President’s right to declare war, muster troops and conduct office as ‘He’ sees fit in an emergency. When I refered her and her group to the passages that correctly answered the quiz questions, she became enraged, refused to read them and insisted over and over, “I know the answer. My DAD told me. I don’t need to read it.” This is a grown woman with the means to ‘pass’ the test that COULD NOT get past the idea that her Dad’s wisdom was not sacrosanct. Stunning.

      The other was an example from when I was a grader. The Prof. handed me a stack of exams with the title pages inverted so that I would not see student names and the grading would be unbiased. He then handed me a seperate stack and said, “These are the exams from the mens basketball team.” Point taken. My first thought? The Womens team is in this class too. I actually had that thought. Without regard for the rest of the implication, it occurred to me that if we’re going to ‘assist’ the athletes, why can we not at the VERY LEAST ‘assist’ them all? There are others, of course. It’s not the Institutional bias that blindsides me anymore. It is the everyday.

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