Happily, there’s already a Feminism 101 blog where folks who are interested in getting up to speed on feminism can do so. But feminism is not some giant monolith where everyone agrees on everything all the time skipping grimmly through the world in lock formation while we ruin fun for girly girls and try to make men feel bad for having penises.
Most feminists agree on the basic principle that feminism is about recognizing and forcing others to recognize women as fully human, equal participants in society. How we go about that, what “fully human” means or what “equal participant” might entail are all up for grabs.
No one has really settled on that, which I believe is for the best. Ideally, we should be working towards a world very different from the one we live in, one that, I would gather, most of us wouldn’t recognize as being the end result of our struggles.
You can see that kind of tension between anti-porn feminists and pro-porn feminists. Anti-porn feminists complain that we did not struggle as hard as we did for as long as we did so that it would be easier for men to gaze at naked women pretending to enjoy having sex while they watch. Pro-porn women argue that we don’t have to be Puritanical about sex and that there’s nothing inherently anti-feminist about women enjoying and feeling powerful through sex.
Neither side really knows what a woman-friendly future will look like and so they have vastly different ideas that regularly come into conflict about how to achieve that. Do we get it by eliminating all instances of exploitation or do we get it by transforming what used to be exploitative into something we find empowering?
Clearly, we’re not going to settle that today.
But I did want to talk a little about my own feminist strategies and some of why I do what I do here.
For instance, I’m loud and brash and cuss like a sailor here at Tiny Cat Pants (even though in real life, I think I’m much less of a potty mouth and much more charming than I come across here–at least the conservatives always seem shocked that they like me and enjoy talking to me) precicely because, especially here, that behavior has certain markers. Loud, potty-mouthed Southern women are usually poor white trash.
Learning “proper” behavior, learning to be demure and polite and soft-spoken is a way for white women to signal that we’re not trashy and that we deserve to be treated with respect.
In other words, we’re rewarded for being quiet and inoffensive–let the men talk while we get dinner together.
Fuck that. I want to be in where the talking is going on. I want folks to feel like, like me or hate me, they have to at least keep an ear open for what I’m saying. I want the whole experience of reading me to be disconcerting enough that, every once in a while, your guard slips and some important idea gets through.
Why do I dog on conservatives as much as I do?
Because, at the end of the day, I don’t think that they’re idiots.
That may be stupid on my part, but I don’t believe that they’re idiots.
I do believe, however, that many of them are fortunate enough that they can arrange their lives so that their beliefs are never challenged. They can live in neighborhoods, have groups of friends, and attend church with folks who believe pretty much what they believe and so their beliefs are continually reinforced without being honed through conflict.
And these people are making decisions for us, all of us, based on assumptions about groups I’m a part of, and they rarely have to interact with people who challenge those assumptions.
I hope to challenge them.
That’s also, in part, what’s with all the pictures of my tits and why I’m honest about my own insecurities and doubts. I think a lot of folks here think that feminists are “not like regular women,” that we are not the kinds of people they can hang out in a bar with or flirt with or sympathize with.
But we are.
Anyway, I just wanted to stay a little about my strategies. They’re not always the best ones and sometimes I have to rethink them and try something different.
Sadly, no one’s sending out orders from Feminist Headquarters. Everyone’s figuring this stuff out as we go.
So, I’m going to fuck up occassionally, though not quite as often as would amuse the conservatives, I’m sure.