Wednesday, November 5
I admit that in many ways I’m probably what you would call an armchair feminist. I don’t go to demonstrations, I’m not a member of any feminist groups, I’m just a woman who thinks she should be equal to a man and who gets annoyed seeing the many ways women are still treated differently (and normally worse). However, I’ve started regularly checking a blogging site called “Mädchenmannschaft” (Girl’s Team, they mostly write in German, though) that is definitely feminist. And I have understood why we’re actually doing more of a roll-back than of an advance.
Every time I see a post that deals with ‘mainstream’ feminists - or women who speak out for feminism, but are not considered feminists per se, like Emma Watson when she spoke in front of the UN - I see the writers spewing their anger, definitely deciding that a white, heterosexual woman from a first world country and with a certain fame can’t speak for ‘us’ women. But, by that definition, who is ‘us’ women? I am from a first world country, I’m white, I’m heterosexual (I’d say I’m casual-sexual, because sex doesn’t take up a lot of time in my life, but I’m not completely without a sex drive, like an asexual person), the only thing I’m not is famous. Not that I miss it…
I do agree Alice Schwarzer definitely doesn’t speak for all women, either. It seems to me that by now she has ‘lost contact’ with problems a lot of women have these days. And then there’s the bank account in Switzerland she has to take care of. I do agree that in many discussions, women from other areas of the world, from Africa, India, Asia, South America, are underrepresented. I do agree that I, like most white people from a first world country, have a certain prerogative.
It seems, women more than men have an instinct to immediately be at each other’s throats. There is no other explanation. I can understand, to a certain degree, that a woman of colour would not feel represented by a white woman (or a Caucasian one or whatever the current politically correct word is, not that I care, I see political correctness as a disease). The same goes the other way around, naturally. What I can’t understand is the anger and outright hate the writers of Mädchenmannschaft often display. Emma Watson may not be a true and tired feminist (yet and, the way she was treated, probably never), but that doesn’t make what she said any less true. And just because something comes from a white woman who happens to live in Europe or North America and also happens to like guys more than girls, it doesn’t have to be untrue for everyone else.
We all have our battlefields, our topics within the large realm of feminism that are most important to us. Some of us have to fight more because of their skin colour, some of us have to fight more because of the people they choose to love. But what use is it, really, to fight each other over those differences? As long as another feminist is not belittling you for your skin colour or choice in lovers, there is no reason to attack them. And just because a white woman’s point of view is different from yours, that doesn’t make her less or you more of a feminist. The same goes the other way around as well. Each human has a different point of view - because we all have different experiences in life.
And as long as every young woman speaking about feminism without being considered a feminist has to fear the claws and fangs of the feminists, they will not join us. In the 1980s, the women wanted to be feminists, they wanted to be equal, they were looking for strong role models. And they got them.
Since the 1990s, the role models have vanished again. Barbie got even thinner. The ‘good-looking’ woman got a lot thinner. Admittedly, shoulder pads have gone out of style with good reason, but in the 1980s, woman wanted to look broad-shouldered and strong, like men.
Today we’ve gone back to sexist advertisements by the score, to weak female characters in movies, TV series, and computer games. And we’re surprised young women won’t join our ‘club’ any longer? Would you join a club where people are shouting at you for daring to say something? Where they’re shouting at you, because you weren’t born in Africa, Asia, South America, or India (or at least to ancestors from those places), but ‘dared’ to be born in Europe or North America? The answer, I think, is pretty obvious.
Sheathe those claws, cover those fangs again. Use them against those who are really against equality of the sexes (and for me, that includes all kinds of sexual orientation).
We have a lot of problems still to solve, but ‘black versus white,’ ‘poor versus rich,’ ‘one sexual orientation versus all other’ among ourselves should not be among them, yet. We can work those out once we’re equal to men.