Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

“Female Privilege”

Posted in fail, Feminism, New Zealand on February 14th, 2012 by steph – Comments Off on “Female Privilege”

The biggest mistake I made yesterday was reading this article on The Good Men Project when I saw the link. I really knew not to expect anything from a post on the GMP, but I couldn’t resist. “I Have Female Privilege”. I should’ve just walked away from the computer and never read this, because cleaning up the resulting mess from my head explosion was just not a great use of my time.

So, apparently the world is now a “woman’s world”, and women have all sorts of privilege; “I know that battle has not been won everywhere. There are countries or cultures where horrendous things happen to you if you are female. But in my country and in my culture, and in many other western countries, I would suggest the tide has well and truly turned.”

 

1. I’m allowed to be far more open about my sexuality than a man is. In fact, if I’m bisexual, it’s encouraged (both male and females encourage it funnily enough). If I’m hetero, I’m allowed to make comments about how hot men are, compliment men without others thinking it’s harassment and generally can make lewd comments about any person, be them male or female, and it’s considered ok. I can say “I fancy him so much I’d  even rape him” or “I need to pull him into the storeroom and show him I mean it” or “He is mega hot” about any male whether  he is seventeen (I am forty) or seventy. I can sit in a Twilight movie and drool at Jacob (for instance), and not be seen as a dirty old woman.

 

As QoT said on twitter last night, “I have privilege because people are happy to objectify my bisexuality!”. Some fucking privilege it is that lesbians and bi women are still positioned as being wank-fodder for guys- it’s so great not having your sexuality taken seriously! Additionally, the reason women are allowed to make “lewd comments” is because our sexuality is still seen as non-threatening; and, in fact, women are actually shamed for their sexual desires (too high=slut, too low=frigid, and there is no ‘perfect medium’ because no matter what you do you will always be a slut or a prude to someone). Some privilege that is. I’m not trying to say that men have it much better- in some ways they do, and in others they don’t. For me, that’s a part of why I’m a feminist; trying to work against mainstream stereotypes of men always being horny and lascivious beasts, and trying to combat homophobia. But just because men have it bad in some ways, that doesn’t mean that women have privilege over them in that area.

 

2. If my partner and I were in a domestic dispute and both violent, or both shouting, and I hit him … if the police were called, my male partner would still be the one far more likely to be taken into custody for the night. If my male partner tried to report domestic violence, it would be harder for him to have the charges laid, than if I did so. In fact, while there is a charge of Male assaults Woman in my country, there is no Woman assaults Male. That would be classified instead as General Assault.

 

So, because men may not be believed if they accuse a woman of violence, women have privilege? Even though the actual facts also include the statistic that women are much more likely to be the victim of violence (perpetrated by a man) than men? If that is what female privilege is, then you can have it back, thanks. It’s so reassuring to know that in a “woman’s world”, women are at risk of violence (domestic, but also sexual violence and rape outside of domestic spheres). I mean, come on. Really?! REALLY?! Because surely in a woman’s world, we would be at very low risk of being victimized. Oh, but men might not be believed if they report being victimized by a woman- well, that does suck. But it is in no way an indicator that the world is a woman’s world; in fact, it is a sneaky little byproduct of patriarchy- you know, that system that positions men as the top dogs! Yes, that’s right: in the patriarchy, where gender stereotypes roam free, women are seen as weak, submissive, passive, and generally incapable of violence against men. In the patriarchy, a man being hit by his wife is as absurd as a talking horse. So no wonder he might not be believed if he claimed to have been hurt by a woman- it is a ludicrous role-reversal. So, this example of “female privilege” is really just male power and dominant positioning backfiring for men. To be clear: as a woman and a feminist, my ideal world would be one where acts of violence were all treated seriously; I don’t want to live in a world where a man who is hurt by a woman is not taken seriously because I don’t want women to have power and control over men. That attitude – that the only dynamic is one group having power over the other- comes from the perspective that the world is a zero-sum game, and that improving the lives of women means an automatic switcheroo so that men are now on the bottom. That is a fairly common false conceptualization of what the goal of feminism is, and seems silly when you consider how explicitly feminists state that we want equality (which, as you can see, includes the word “equal”. It seems obvious enough…).

 

3. If my relationship with the father of my children was to break up, I’m far more likely to get the kids. And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not, I get to choose whether the father’s name is on the birth certificate or not (and if he queries it, he’s the one who has to pay for the DNA test) and if he’s named as the father, he then has to pay child support, whether he was aware I was trying to have a child or not.

 

There is so much fail contained in this example. Firstly, the reason a woman might be more likely to “get the kids” is because in this world- the patriarchy!- women are positioned as the caregivers and often the primary parents, so who better to “give” the kids to than their figure of eternal love and nurturing?  This attitude is an attitude of the patriarchy, not of a “woman’s world”, so using this as an example of how women have all the privilege is just hilarious. A patriarchal attitude being used to explain how the world is no longer biased towards men- I find this very, very funny. Another clear example of looking at the small picture and not thinking about the larger causes and dynamics at play. And, to top it off, the idea that women usually “get” the kids is actually disputed- apparently, men not getting custody is often due to men not applying for custody, and when they do they often get it (in some form)- the whole “feminazis have infiltrated the justice system and the courts are female-controlled” line is most often spouted by good old MRA types who love to talk about the “gynocracy”.

And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not”

Oh, what a privilege to live in a world where if you did what this first example suggests you would be slammed as a gold-digging deadbeat single mum, and your parenting routinely criticized until the end of time. We do not live in a world friendly to single mums, and often it is actively hostile. So sure, you can “do” that, technically, but to pretend that it is an easy option, and to not mention the backlash that comes with that choice, is utter misrepresentation. And great, we can choose to “have the baby or not”. Sucks that while we may have that choice, the world we live in- which is apparently a woman’s world- is still generally not very positive about the choice of abortion, nor does it provide great support for parents. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The post is, apparently, about New Zealand (given that the writer is from here, and mentions “her” country early on) and other western countries: we’re apparently awash in the privilege to choose not to continue a pregnancy in New Zealand, where abortion access is not nearly as easy as people believe and where grounds for abortions are laid out in the Crimes Act (“Serious danger to the life or to the physical or mental health of the mother. Risk that the child would be severely handicapped, physically or mentally. Pregnancy as a result of incest or unlawful sex with a guardian. Severe mental subnormality of the mother.”). That is not what a “woman’s world” in New Zealand looks like to me, and if that is considered to be “female privilege”, then it’s a fucking joke. Other western countries aren’t looking to great when it comes to choosing not to have a child either- the reproductive rights of Americans are being chipped away at, and abortion providers in the USA continue to be targets of domestic terrorist acts (and yes, that is what clinic bombings and the murders of doctors is) committed by anti-choicers, and access to abortion services (choosing not to continue the pregnancy) is fraught for many people in many states of America. This is NOT what female privilege looks like. To argue that because women have “female privilege” because we are theoretically presented with choices about pregnancy  is 100% tunnel vision, full stop.

 

4. I’m allowed to be as education- and career-driven as I want to be, and push for the top, seeking equity and equality in everything. But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought. And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.

 

I’m allowed to be as education and career driven as I want, provided I make sacrifices in other areas of my life that a man would not have to, and put myself out there for criticism that a man would not receive. I can push for the top if I want to be called a ball-breaker, or have my ability to do the job questioned, or have it insinuated that I only achieved success because I used my sexuality and/or got the job because of sexual favours. I also may be the victim of sexual harrassment by coworkers, or be excluded from the old boys network that still exists in many places. And when I want to work and have kids, it’s considered “having it all”, whereas for men it’s called “being an adult” or not called anything at all. Hooray, female privilege! Life is so great.

But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought.”

Two words: BECAUSE PATRIARCHY. Patriarchy is why men are expected to take care of women, and it sets up a world where this is an acceptable dynamic. When women are viewed as needing to be looked after and provided for like a small child, of course you are expected to pay for their dinner. Chivalry -such as holding doors for women- is a product of the patriarchy, and doesn’t actually mean that it is a “woman’s world”: in fact, if you actually think about the situation beyond the superficial interaction, it is an example of how it is still a man’s world. Chivalry is patriarchal, and patriarchal means, by definition, that the world is a man’s world. I guess it sucks to be a guy who is so goddamn pleased with his superior status (as bestowed by the patriarchy), but then realises that this now means he is expected to take care of the people inferior to him as part of the deal.

 

“And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.”

Yeah, it does suck that the expected dynamic is women stay at home and men go to work. But guess what? Once again, that is actually not an indicator that it is a woman’s world and that women have the privilege, but it is a byproduct of patriarchal attitudes that say  “why the fuck would any red-blooded man want to stay home to fold clothing and change nappies? That’s women’s work!”. So yeah, another invalid example, and another case of looking at the small picture but not the bigger dynamic and what causes the small picture. As a feminist, I would love for it to be easier (both practically, in terms of support systems, but also in terms of reduced social stigma) for men to stay at home with their kids. Women being considered the default caregivers is not a privilege that women have, because it robs everyone of choice.

 

5. If I write an inflammatory comment, or a blog, or article, and a man questions anything in it, all I need to do to shut the conversation down is call him a bully, or say he’s a privileged male. I can also make disparaging comments about his sexuality, his economic standing, the size of his penis, and his ability to do pretty much anything in return for him disagreeing with me. I can do this, because when I do, I KNOW there will be a bunch of other women who will stick up for me.

 

This is obviously a joke, right? Or written by someone who has never been a woman in a comments section in the internet? Because, come on. That is basically the exact opposite of what it’s like to be a woman on the internet. Generally how it goes is: woman has opinion, man calls her a feminazi slut who is too ugly to even be raped, then rinse and repeat. “Men call me things” is a great example of how women are attacked for just existing online. Sure, you will often have many women to back you up against the guy, the usually all that means is that they all get threatened and abused too. Generally, when people accuse feminists of “ganging-up” on a guy, it’s because he had blundered into a conversation to denounce their opinions and use his manly male authority to tell them how things ACTUALLY are; i.e. man waves his male privilege about in a space that doesn’t kowtow in deference of it, and suddenly he is the victim when his actions don’t go down well.

 

Basically, this whole article about “female privilege” is a huge joke. Most of the examples are actually examples of the patriarchy in action, and are actually not all that privileged when considered in their wider context. It’s the equivalent of describing a wrecked car as fine because that one headlight isn’t damaged; you absolutely must look at the entire picture, and the author failed spectacularly. And, because of this myopic perspective and the insistence that seeing women using their privilege all the time “sickens” her, and the repeated talk about how women now have freedoms our ancestors did not (did you guys know we can go to university? And, like, own property and stuff? I think women are even allowed to vote and drive cars and wear pants!) just gives the impression of a woman desperate to ingratiate herself with men by proving that she thinks guys are great and actually have it way tougher than them, and how she’s brave enough to call women on our greedy, ungrateful attitudes and ignorance of our own good fortune. The statement in her author bio, “She considers herself both a feminist and a masculist”, doesn’t do anything to change that impression either.


“Feminism is anti-evolution”

Posted in fail, Feminism on July 21st, 2011 by steph – 4 Comments

I’m at home after having a wisdom tooth removed, and so not really in the mood for blogging, but one thing is causing me more pain and discomfort than the tooth extraction has: this horrible opinion piece, “But I’m a Feminist and I love chivalry!”. Sorry, I mean “Should chivalry be stopped?”. The entire thing is terrible, and is a great example of a bad opinion piece, but all I can really muster up the effort to ask is: do you think the men quoted in it (Ned, Tom, Jed, and Kent) are really just dudes the author made up (“Ned”, “Tom”, “Jed”, and “Kent”) to put forward her various perspectives on the issue but also include a man’s view? While reading it I was reminded of being a teenager reading Cosmo- pages and pages of sex tips and “what I like in a woman” quotes from men named Dylan, Sam, Jack, Christian, and I was fairly certain that rather than finding 50 new guys to provide opinions every issue that the author just made up a bunch of quotes and attributed them to fictional guys. Either that or asked the people in the office to make up silly shit (“My girlfriend wore her used thong as a scrunchie and it was super hot!”) and made up a bunch of guy names for their “sources”. So when I read that Ned, a “30-something finance guy” thinks that “From an evolutionary perspective, I’m meant to do the physical stuff because I was born stronger than her, and because she is busy with the children or whatever. Opening a car door is a tiny manifestation of that.”, it reeks of the Cosmo treatment to me. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe that the men quoted in the article are for real…

 

The Stroppery

Posted in blogs, Feminism, New Zealand on April 17th, 2011 by steph – 3 Comments

New blog alert! Some of my favourite feminist bloggers  have started up a sweet new blog, The Stroppery.

All I have to say is: I want to go to there.

New blog on the block

Posted in Feminism, New Zealand on February 3rd, 2011 by steph – 3 Comments

One of my very favourite people has recently decided to come over to the dark side and start up a feminist blog of her own. Feminethicist is all sorts of goodness about feminism and reproductive ethics, and well worth a read. So run, don’t walk, and check it out!

Conditioning

Posted in Feminism on September 9th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Now that LadyNews has finally caught up with the real world, and joined Twitter, I get the benefit of the super-awesome wisdom of some rockin’ feminists. This tweet from Natalie summed up something I have been thinking about a lot lately

Just because I identify as feminist, it doesn’t mean I have successfully shed all the conditioning I’ve been subjected to.

Lately I have been berating myself a lot for being a ‘bad feminist’, because I have noticed a lot of things I do and patterns of thought that I have, and they’re things I don’t like and don’t feel are representative of where I’m at with my feminism. But this tweet reminded me that some things, especially ones that take years to build up, aren’t broken down as easily as we would like. Years and years of endless conditioning isn’t something that disappears overnight, and I feel that for me it might take as long to shed as it did to become entrenched in the first place. So, shedding of my conditioned thoughts and behaviours and responses is still a work in progress. But I think awareness of this is the key, really.

Also, when I think ‘I am a bad feminist’ thoughts, I remind myself that ‘bad feminist’ is just part of my conditioning to think that I have to be perfect, and that small flaws are major, and that I won’t ever be good enough. And that’s something that is a huge part of what girls and women are being taught to feel.  So, I’m happy to give myself a mental slap on the wrist whenever I call myself a bad feminist.

Feminism ruins everything

Posted in Feminism on August 30th, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Someone who is a Facebook friend of mine recently posted a status asking whatever happened to the independent woman and imploring all the ladies to burn their bras. One of the responses to this status (in response to a comment about chauvinism having had it’s turn) was

So has feminism, it took less time to do more damage. What, three generations (?) after the feminist movement we have women living on their own who don’t know how to cook healthy meals, don’t know how to sew, don’t want to sacrifice their careers to have children, they’d rather pay someone else to do it? – I’m not saying ALL women don’t know how to do this short example of things, but I am saying there is a large majority of the population that don’t – to me it seems like it’s time for the male vs female crap needs to stop being flung around and humanity needs to learn what it’s responsibilities in life are.

And all this time I thought I was a shitty cook because I hate it so never really did it much, but apparently it is, once again, the fault of feminism! Sneaky fucking feminism, getting all up ons and affecting my ability to cook a meal and sacrifice my (non-existent) career for my (non-existent) children. Dang it, feminism! Why you gotta be like that?

How to deal with hatred and misrepresentation

Posted in Ask Men, Feminism, What the what? on August 27th, 2010 by steph – 7 Comments

Finally, there is hope for all those people in my life who, for so long now, have been saying “I just don’t know how to deal with her. How do I deal with an angry feminist???”. Hallelujah, an answer is finally here! Hopefully the haters are taking notes. (I have to point out this this advice is proferred by a woman, which is another level of terrible on top of the terrible sandwich it already is).

Where to begin with this ridiculous piece of rubbish?

Feminism is a great thing. As a movement, it has allowed women to be seen as people every bit as worthy and deserving of the privileges that men enjoy. Women still don’t earn as much income as men in comparable occupations and there is still a tendency to think that women belong in the kitchen, but the feminists that have fought for equality over the years have had a huge effect on gender roles in our society.

Feminism is cool, you guys. I like that it exalts the work of feminists who have fought wicked hard to be seen as human beings that deserve the same rights as men, then mentions some good examples of why this hasn’t actually happened. Without even a note of awareness of how funny this pairing of ideas is. Feminism has done so much! And women are treated decently now! Except in these two examples here, which negate my point.

While most women who identify as feminists these days are champions of equality, there is another type of feminist that despises anything male and claims that women are superior in every way. These man-hating feminists are rare and sometimes refer to themselves as “radical” or “militant.” We just think they’re angry. When you come across an angry feminist, you may find yourself instinctively shielding your balls while trying to figure out what to do next. AskMen has your guide to dealing with angry feminists.

Yeah, um, I don’t know if you got the memo that has been circulating for a good few years now, but hating men isn’t actually a tenet of feminism. Hating men kind of goes against the whole ‘wanting everyone, men and women, to get a fair and equal deal’. Busting out the tired old man-hater cliche? Ten points for originality!

Tip 1. : Don’t say you’re a feminist. Because that is her secret activation phrase, and will cause her to rip off your balls!

Don’t ever try to empathise with angry feminists by claiming that you are also a feminist. These women think that by simply being a man you are part of the oppressive male-dominated system that is keeping women down. So, even if you’ve always respected and loved the women in your life, the angry feminist will say that men are privileged in our society and, whether you actively choose it or not, you’re to blame for participating in the patriarchy.

The thing is, by being a man, you kind of are part of the system that is in place against women. Even good men who have loved and respected the women in their lives. We’re all part of the system, as much as we like to believe we are the pure and noble exception. And saying that the ‘angry feminist’ will respond by talking about how men are privileged in our society? Men are privileged in our society! Is that even up for debate?? Pointing out the flawed system, and how we too are all part of it (by virtue of existing in it) and are also flawed doesn’t make one some sort of militant. It is important to talk about these things, because this is how we start to change them. And another thing, saying that you’ve always loved and respected the women in your life? That doesn’t negate privilege. And, additionally, what you view as love and respect is easily shaped by what ‘the system’ views as loving and respectful behaviour towards women.  I know plenty of guys who say they respect women, and give an example of some sort of cliche “I’m good to ladies!” move which is more about what we are taught to believe respect looks like than it is about actual respect (and what that individual woman actually wants/needs).

Tip 2. Never ever EVER mention sex. Ever!

“…any mention of sex between a man and a woman, no matter how innocent, consensual or woman-centric, is likely to be twisted into a rape-inciting hate comment by an angry feminist. This type of feminist believes that any woman who wants and enjoys sex is contributing to the oppression of not just herself, but the entire female population. Yet, she will also argue that a society controlled by men stifles a woman’s right to express her sexuality. Pointing out the inherent contradiction in her argument will only result in her accusing you of being a rape supporter. Better to go find yourself one of those women who wishes to cement her submission to the big, bad patriarchy by allowing you to give her satisfying orgasms.”

You’re right, when someone says the word sex, feminists are really hearing RAPERAPERAPERAPE. There is so much wrong with this, starting with the fact that the promotion of sex-positivity is relentlessly promoted by feminists. Feminists generally like the idea of people having satisfying and consensual sex. Who wouldn’t like that idea? But sometimes, rape really is the issue. And sometimes the man might think he is talking about sex, but really he is talking about exploitation and manipulation and coercion and rape. So yeah, sometime the conversation is about rape. But a lot of the time, it’s about sex. If sex is really what is being talked about, it isn’t going to get “twisted into a rape-inciting hate comment”.

Also; a society controlled by men does stifle a woman’s right to express her sexuality. Again, why is this even up for debate? Why is this treated as the ludicrous hallucinations of a twisted mind? It’s simple: if one group has control over what another can do (thus dictating what is good and bad, admissible and not), then they are creating rules that hey, just might be stifling some people’s free expression. Whodathunkit? Acting like this is a silly feminist idea made up for laughs is trying to marginalize people who believe it, stifling another form of their expression too.

And  “better to go find yourself one of those women who wishes to cement her submission to the big, bad patriarchy by allowing you to give her satisfying orgasms” ? Yes, men ‘giving’ women orgasms is what feeds the patriarchy! We’ve been trying to tell everyone for all these years, but really our hearts weren’t in it, because orgasms are just so good. This is patronizing bullshit at it’s best. There are plenty of things that cement the big bad patriarchy, but having an orgasm with a man really doesn’t seem like the biggest thing we should be worried about. I mean, I know consensual sexual pleasure will bring down the empire and all that, but we’re a bit busy with rights to work, parent, choose, etc. We’ll deal with the orgasm thing later, and stamp out that dirty practice of ladies having orgasms with men all together. Sisters unite!

Tip 3. “Don’t prove her right”.

Angry feminists can be infuriating in their stubbornness and complete disregard for any sense of logic or reason. Yes, she’s trying to push your buttons, but don’t fall for it. If you say what you really want to say to her, you’ll just be stooping to her level. Don’t supply more evidence for her theory that all men suck by acting like an asshole. Stay calm and remember that common sense is on your side.

When she’s talking about a way in people treat feminists like garbage, don’t prove her right by saying something like, I don’t know, “You’re such an angry feminist!”, even though you totally think it. You’ll show her, yes indeedy.

Disregard for any sense of logic or reason? Bish please, that’s just unfounded. I’m pretty sure saying “See this observable thing in the world? The one that disadvantages people? Disadvantage is bad, thus this thing that causes it is bad” isn’t unreasonable. Common sense may not be on the side of feminists, according to this author, but it sure isn’t on her side either.

Tip 4. “Don’t be a bother”

Sometimes, the best way to deal with an angry feminist is to put your hands in the air and back away slowly. You will never win an argument with this woman, and trying will only get you labelled as an oppressive patriarchal pig. Best to save your common-sense arguments for someone who will actually listen to them and engage you in conversation instead of blaming your entire gender for everything that makes her life difficult.

Angry feminists are like bears, y’all! Big, dangerous bears! Or maybe tigers; yeah, tigers! Back away from them before you wake them from their slumber of man-hating dreams, and sink their teeth into your sexism-reinforcing self. (Except they wouldn’t actually sink their teeth into you, because that is soooooo evocative of penetration, and penetration is satan and Garth George all rolled into one).

You know what makes someone oppressive? Having to shit all over someone’s beliefs and pwn them in an argument by shouting them down. So, were you to do that, then yeah, I would call you oppressive. You aren’t always going to  “win” an argument, which is a lesson even children learn at some stage. We all lose sometimes.

I think what you mean by “find someone who will actually listen and engage in conversation” is find someone who will nod and smile while you talk about yourself and vainly stroke your taut, muscled chest. Because the feminists I know (even then angry ones, like me!) actually really love to engage in conversation. Reasonable, logical, passionate, emotional, angry, enthusiastic, open conversation. So I think maybe your dictionary is out of date or something. Maybe you should come over and we could have a conversation about it? I’ll bake cookies shaped like male genitalia so we can rip the balls off with our teeth.

This is how the article concludes:

For the record, not all feminists are angry. Some of them are perfectly reasonable people who simply believe in equality. Not even all radical or militant feminists are all that scary, but you are certainly more likely to find the mean, frightening, extreme ones among those that use those labels. When we hear the word “sexist,” we usually picture a guy who looks down on women, but don’t forget that there are women out there who think that men are the weaker sex and that revolution and world domination are the only logical responses to the paternalistic ideals of our time. These women are every bit as harmful and distasteful as misogynist men.

Brain explode from so much ridiculousness. First up, what’s with this hatred for being angry? Why is anger a bad thing? Or is it just bad when the angry person is a lady, or a feminist? Because I think anger is fine, and healthy, and often and awesome motivator for people to do something about things they feel are wrong (also great motivator for creating a blog!). And I think part of this is a conflation of anger with passion. Neither of these things is bad.

Apparently when we hear “sexist”, we think of a man who looks down on women. Well, yes. But there are a lot of people who say “But I love women! Some of my best friends are women!”, and this does not mean they aren’t sexist, not by a long shot. In fact, “I have female friends” is a fairly good indicator of sexism… Yes, sexim is looking down on women. But the problem is, a lot of people think that because they don’t hit their girlfriends or because they hired a female employee that they are bastions of awesome woman-love and respect. But sexism is sneaky, and subtle, pervasive and ingrained. So some people don’t really get how some things can be sexist because those things aren’t “that bad”, or because they “don’t mean anything”. The thing is, they do mean something. And this is why feminists are passionate, why they want to talk about problems: because problems, both big and little, exist; and people who say “I’m not sexist because I like women” exist; and people who say feminism, a movement about all people getting treated well, is as harmful as men who hate women, those people exist too.

“Keeper” and “changer” sound so dirty…

Posted in Feminism, marriage, name changing on August 22nd, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on “Keeper” and “changer” sound so dirty…

Apparently 77-95% of women (a large range in estimates there depending on the study, almost 20%!) change their names when they get married. This surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t have. I suppose I assumed that because I personally wouldn’t change my name, that quite a lot of people I know (who are quite similar-minded) wouldn’t either. But I suppose it is seen as the norm for many people, and not something that there would even be a question about. The only married friend I know is a “changer”. Growing up, I always thought I would be because I hated my last name (and being teased by a boy with the last name McDonald-Bates; a name ripe for the mocking itself). It never crossed my mind to just get a legal name change; probably the idea that one grows up and gets married was such a ingrained concept to me (and many others…) that  I never considered any other method of name change. But at some point I got used to my name as it is, and I like the sound of it. Also, doing what I do, job-wise, means I am carving out a name for myself, and, as is brought up in the article, this can bring up the issue of “brand protection”.

It can be a surprisingly touchy issue; some people view a woman who chooses not to change her name as not being loyal or devoted enough to her husband. (A man isn’t expected to change his name to prove his loyalty or anything like that. Surely the whole process of getting married is kinda sorta meant to be symbolic of loyalty anyway, but whatevs. People also get all ‘think of the children!’ and collapse on their fainting couch worrying about what last name any children of the couple would have.

One of the things I noticed in this article is that not changing your last name is framed as the feminist choice, and something one would only be motivated to choose because of feminism (we feminists are always bucking tradition and norms!). But that’s misleading, because not only does it paint “keepers” as feminists (and we all know what that means: deviants, stirrers, all kinds of naughty bad things), but it paints “changers” as being women who are brainless, tradition-following sheep (but in a good way!). And I think either keeping or changing can be the feminist option here, because the feminist choice is actually having a choice and exercising it.