Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

Misogyny and Emma Watson’s UN Speech

I just finished reading this article about the crazy, explosive response to Emma Watson’s speech at the UN. If you haven’t seen the speech, you can watch it below. It’s worth your time:

I’ve been following the story because I happen to like this actress, and feminism is an important subject to me. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to it, here’s what happened. Emma Watson is the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. After she delivered the speech a couple days ago, a lot of extreemly critical and threatening messages were posted on 4chan, which I won’t spend time to discuss, but they were hideous, and the whole internet blew up over them. Since then, a viral marketing outfit has come forward, claiming to have posted the messages as a hoax, and now people are going back and forth with that little morsel.

Returning to The Telegraph article, it was a response to the 4chan threats. You should look at it. The subject matter is unsettling enough, but the comments under it are downright astounding.

“Just goes to show how easily these feminist extremists can smear innocent people with calls of “misogyny” and how quick the white knights are to leap to their defence and join the baying mob without any fact checking.”

“The cultural Marxists aim to destroy the nuclear family, destroy marriage, destroy motherhood, destroy society. They need willing mouthpieces like Emma.”

“And Emma has revealed HER real motive and thats to be queen of the world. Its always the quiet ones.”

There’s a lot of that. Lots and LOTS of that talk. I don’t want to rot your braincells with too much more of it, but it’s a real thing, and it should shock and bother us. Frightened or angry people, who are just plain confused about why women would want to stand up and call for empowerment, are condemning either her personally or feminism generally. They call out what they see as foolishness or aggression; but the cause is not about man-hating. To quote from the speech:

“Gender equality is your issue, too. To date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.”

For anyone out there who still thinks that misogyny is not a real thing, google it. There are huge communities of angry men who seem to genuinely fear women who have autonomous control over their own lives.
Just look at the comments in the article: deny, deny, deny! Insult! Condemn! It’s as if the knee-jerk reaction of these people was to presume the worst of intentions on the author and the women being discussed, and they gushed out all those ugly feelings onto the comments section to voice that women are not being unduly criticized for requesting fairness.

I think some of those commenters are simply misogynystic, but there is another group being represented in them, too. Those of you who do not think women should be mistreated, but think the word “feminist” means “angry man-hater lady,” need to start defining your terms and come to grips with what you really can call yourself. It’s time for that to change. When men cannot coexist as equals with women and vice versa, their relationship is necessarily going to be tainted with some level of disrespect. Friendship, love, and respect require vulnerability, and that cannot be part of a relationship in which one party looks at the other as a category first and a partner second.

If you think people should be in charge of their own lives without regard to gender, if you think people should be offered equal respect, regardless of gender, you’ve embraced the feminist goals. It’s time to stop making a war out of this, and call it what it is: a cooperative effort to bring about something we all need.

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A Dichotomy of Mermaids

Hans Christian Anderson told this story about a young maiden in love with a hansome prince. She determines to have him at all costs, forsaking family and all that is familiar to her, propelled by infatuation into the all-too-common assumption that if she has the right physical appearance she will win him over. Conspicuously enough, she has never spoken with him, and therefore thinks nothing of bargaining away her voice for a pair of feet so she can go after him, which in the classic story, cause her terrible pain whenever she walks. That’s where the modern Disney interpretation starts to make its departure- HCA makes it a point that she suffers pain for her new look, which turns out to be a wasted sacrifice. She’s no different to lover boy than all the other girls around him, except for her hopeless inability to contribute to the conversation and he flutters off after some other girl. After his wedding, her sisters bring her a knife. They inform her that if she kills him and his new wife, she can return to the sea and become a mermaid again. Get it? Kill off the fantasy, and go back to your roots. But she can’t; she approaches him with the knife, and runs off to fall into the sea, dissipating into foam. Thus ends the little mermaid princess. She lost the man she wanted, because she never understood him and hoped that she could get by on looks. After she failed, she wouldn’t give him up and her life dissolved into nothingness.

It’s a horrific cautionary tale to young girls everywhere. Looking good isn’t enough to keep a relationship alive, living a fantasy will never allow you to be fulfilled as an individual… the morals are numerous and obvious.

Contrast that unfortunate creature with her modern counterpart:

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When the Disney movie hit theaters, I adored it. I filled countless notebooks and homework papers with mermaid drawings, and practiced swimming like a mermaid (hair tossing upon breaking the surface was a must). I was aware that the story glorified selfish behavior, but it was pretty enough that pretty beat out irresponsible (and it was JUST a MOVIE). As an adult, I find myself kinda sorta battling with that in my classroom. I love the toys and books and my kids like them too, but I see much nastier messages in the story that I didn’t pick up as a child. This character puts everyone around her at risk so that she can have what she wants. She decides she loves someone although she knows nothing about him. As it happens, he is a mindless hunk-o-matic who, like any good prince, exists only to be dashing and to fall in love, but after she creates the entire relationship without any effort from him, and after she sacrifices the well-being and emotional peace of her family, and after she has gotten herself into such enormous trouble that an entire kingdom is now in danger, he suddenly becomes a participant in the story and whoops up the villain before going back to mindlessly adoring her. In the end, her father sadly admits that she was right all along, and she gets an awesome fantasy wedding complete with paternal blessing and rainbow. Yaaay! Seriously, is that anything like reality?

Am I being ridiculous?

I find it ironic that the message is the polar opposite of the original story, but is it really that bad? I’m a little bit serious about that- Ariel is super bratty and she never has to pay for her outrageous treatment of everyone around her, so should we be warning our little girls against her, or can we just be okay with a person getting away with brattiness?

Feminism and The Blessing/Curse of Printed Words

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Ah, Facebook, ye noble bastion of free speech… So I got into a conversation with some guy I don’t know because he said something misogynystic. I have to say, while the printed nature of internet discussions has the benefit that you can evaluate everything before you say it, there is the danger that once it’s in print it is eternal. I marvel at people who are careless on social network sites- you know that’s never going away, don’t you? I normally avoid engaging in such discussions for this very reason; I still don’t really know why I got into this one.

Two things occurred to me during and after that conversation that I thought worthy of rehashing in a little more detail (rather than wisely dropping the subject, as the previous paragraph suggests I should). The first is that, as a conservative Christian woman, I occasionally encounter a militantly shallow view of feminism: this hazy idea that feminists are an ignorant rogue army of godless hateful women acting out of spite.

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I also have friends who dislike the current trend of feminism but are more thoughtful in their views (click here to read my sister in law’s discussion of gender distinction and practical symbolism). To me though, feminism isn’t about anger or throwing down gender distinctions. I have no interest in immitating manliness. As a feminist today, I’m interested in normalizing the reality that women weren’t given equality, they already had it. The feminist movement didn’t take something that was not previously ours, it demanded that what was rightfully ours no longer be denied us. I like how Darrell worded it a few days ago: “Of course I thought that women should have the right to vote, the right to work and, a place at the table in our national dialog but it took having two little girls of my own to teach me that there’s a huge difference between tolerating an idea and celebrating it.”

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That quote brings me to the second issue. I mentioned above how it surprises me when people blurt stuff out on Facebook- this conversation… It’s always nice to share opinions, really, but reread what you type before you click “post.” When I ask a person about what they say, and am met with “what I meant was…” and “I never said…” that’s not a sign of someone who spoke clearly to begin with. Think first, then speak, because honestly folks WHAT YOU MEANT ISN’T HALF AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT ACTUALLY CAME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.

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I’m actually interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this, so I’d love for you to share your thoughts below, if my dire reminder about the permanency of written words hasn’t scared you away… if you disagree, I promise not to bite your head off, but I don’t promise not to create a thinly-veiled satirical comic strip poking fun at you.

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