Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Interview with a feminist...

I answered some questions today regarding my perspective on feminism. I thought it was appropriate to post them here post interview :)

1.) How do you define yourself as a feminist? (i.e. what makes you a feminist different from all other feminists)

I don't know if i'd say that my feminism is different from all other feminists but what makes me identify with the feminist movement is it's focus on equality. I believe in social, political and economic equality for ALL people.

2.) When did you first decide you were a feminist?

I realized it is where i belonged in my first women's studies lecture in college. I was a sophomore and really confused about my political views, having come to college with an indoctrinated sense of right wing conservatism, i knew feminism was something my parents would despise so it intrigued me even more. I knew i belonged when finally, everything clicked and i actually agreed with what i was learning as
apposed to pretending to understand/agree when my dad talked about what he heard that morning on his conservative radio shows.

3.) How did becoming a feminist change your relationships?

As much as i would love to say that becoming a feminist made me treat everyone equal and created nothing but harmony in my life, this is not at all true. Feminism to this day mediates my relationships through every social interaction. At first, it pissed my friends off and they treated me like i was the PC police. Once i realized that wasn't the way to get my views across i tried other tactics, all even more
futile. I quickly realized i can't change people and can't convert everyone over to my side. As far as romantic relationships, feminism continues to inspire me to strive for an egalitarian relationship which is an incredibly difficult one to achieve. D and I split up responsibilities based on skill, interest, and time. Although we try to be as equal as possible, it varies weekly with schedules. However, being in a relationship with someone who also considers themselves a feminist has put us on the same page and allowed us to strive for similar goals both romantically and politically. Oh, and feminists are better partners :)

4.) Does feminism have any impact on your identity as a Jew?

Not at first. For a while the two groups of people i felt most comfortable around were Jews and feminists. However, the more i started to think about religious patriarchy the less i started to identify as a Jew, at least a practicing one. The beauty about Judaism is that secular Jews are everywhere. Many people don't "practice" but still connect to God in a Jewish way on a spiritual level. With this i identify. With Orthodox and/or Conservative Judaism, not so much, especially not anymore.

Fundamentally, the Judeo-Christian ethic is sexist from its roots. The story of creation first indicates that Eve is created from Adam's rib, then turns her into a villain for eating from the tree of knowledge, seducing Adam, and getting them both kicked out of the Garden forever. Aside from the Old Testament, Judaism is sexist in practice as well. A concept present in various religions, women's sexuality is
represented by her clothes and thus she must cover up in various ways. Although we are most familiar with this concept through Muslim women in burkas, Orthodox Jewish women are asked to cover up in many ways as well, so not to seduce men with their sexuality. This idea, once i started to think about it, really bugged me. Why do WE have to cover up?! Why can't the men just NOT LOOK. This not only takes the
responsibility away from men but also oppresses women's sexual expression. This is a case where women are asked to deflect the attention of men when in fact it should be men who are educated not to view women as sexual objects, but as equals. This not only victimizes the woman, indicating that she is responsible for the attention she
receives from men (similar to victimizing rape survivors) but also is an unfair statement towards men. Basically, asking women to cover up as to divert the male gaze isn't giving men enough credit. I know many a man who is able to control himself and NOT give inappropriate attention to women.

Anyway you slice it though, Judaism and most other religions i have thought about were build on patriarchy, by men, placing women in second-class roles whether to "protect and cherish" them or to blatantly indicate them as inferior. This is how and why feminism has greatly impacted my role as a Jew and has made me think more about religious patriarchy within Judaism. Oh and i also hate the fact that
Judaism is one of many religions opposed to same sex marriage.

5.) What is the current state of feminism as you see it?

I see that feminism has come a very long way since the first wave, with still much further to go. For instance, many inequalities still remain such as the wage gap, gay rights, international women's rights, women in male dominated fields, violence against women, etc. Also, feminism is still very much stigmatized. More to come on the stigma of feminism soon.


Christopher said...

I am very curious to see your views on the stigma that feminism receives. It seems these days that feminism is a dirty word, but one its opponents never give a reasoning behind why it should be dirty. Hillary Clinton is simply called a feminist and the implication is this is bad, but no one really seems to dare say why. They may call her too masculine, too emotional or whatever, but they never seem to dare say what about feminism is evil, or hell what even makes her a feminist!

Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly don't dare say "We gave them the vote and drivers license and they want MORE" so instead we're just left with this weird implication that feminism GOES TOO FAR, but I've never seen a coherent reason why it does. (Of course the answer is that it can't go too far since equality doesn't yet exist, but of course to them equality is bad but they don't dare say that.)

Also is it a bad sign that while watching Die Hard I thought to myself "Damn, I could write an amazing feminist critique of this film and how it promotes ideals of female empowerment despite setting the stage for new male action movie archetypes."

erhart said...

G -

Lets make the assumption that the story of creation is correct. Assuming the development of Adam and Eve is true, is it fair to assume that the creation of Eve from Adam is considered a sexist symbol?

I know it would be very ignorant of me to not see that the Bible is full of symbols and that many things that occurred during that time appear to us these days as sexist. My point I'd like to make is that is fair for us to interpret occurrences as sexist if they are simply true. If the creation of Eve from Adam could be proved factually to be true, would it still be sexist?

I have a question for you as well. What is your opinion about "protected minorities" and do you see the female side of society as one?

Male Rights Network said...

Nothing new to see here on your feminist blog. Same ol same ol since 1960.

Propagating the ludicruous idea that feminism has fostered romantic culture, rather than being the number one cause for its death. And the even more ludicrous claim that feminists "make better romantic partners"!

The feminist hatred of religion - itself an expression of conservative morality - raises its head again. The failure to recognise that feminism has become a replacement morality, and that it is just as anti-male (if not worse) as religions were anti-female.

The propagation of never-disputed such as the Wage Gap Liberal dropping of the term "male dominated" at a time when most University students and workers in the professions (in their 20s) are female by a very large gap. The misreprentation that feminism is a "taboo" political topic, when the feminist agenda is to be seen and heard in even the most shallow exposure to our newspapers, TV, movies and education courses.

The victim remains, as does the sexist, faux-egalitarian and anti-men mentality.

Feminist Gal said...

MRN, please refer to today's blog, in your foolish honor...

Feminist Gal said...

Jeff, MRN distracted me from addressing your comment - I wanna first talk to, "is it fair for us to interpret occurrences as sexist if they are simply true. If the creation of Eve from Adam could be proved factually to be true, would it still be sexist?"

Hm... this is interesting because i don't really know how it would ever be "proven as true." Since religion is all based on faith, it can never be proved one way or the other.
However, just because something "is" and has been since the beginning, doesn't mean it's right and shouldn't change.

My veiw of religion, and i don't mean to offend anyone, is that it was written by those in charge back in the day, "those in charge" just happened to be white men.

Also, like just because a tradition is a tradition doesn't mean it can't stand a little change to "get with the times" so to speak... For example fraternaties - Traditions that were considered acceptable at one point may not be considered hazing.

To speak to your question, of whether i "see the female side of society as one" - i don't. not at all. not even a little bit... for many reasons:
1. i often want to shake women and ask, "why!!? why in the world wouldn't you want to be a feminist, don't you see that you don't have equal rights?!"
2. Even women that are feminists disagree on many issues. The feminist movement is not a united one and there is still racism, homophobia, classism and lots of other discrimination within the movement itself.
3. Media sends messages of competition to girls and women on a regular basis. Whether it's compete for the man, compete for the job, or compete for the body, whatever, it's all about competition which drives women away from sisterhood. You hear girls all too often exclaim how they feel more comfortable with boys because there's no drama...
4. since there is so much competition for the top job amongst women, it's a hard one to land. Once a woman lands that position, she doesn't always mentor other women, whereas men often form "boys clubs" at work and promote younger men in the organization to partner and what-not.
Anyway, these are just some of my reasons.

I wish the female side of society was united more, because i think we can accomplish more as one rather than constantly competing with one another.

peace :)

Fidelbogen said...

"I am very curious to see your views on the stigma that feminism receives. It seems these days that feminism is a dirty word, but one its opponents never give a reasoning behind why it should be dirty."

Alas, I fear we must plumb the murky depths of the zeitgeist for answers within the domain of questions you have raised.

Regretfully, all too many of the folk who are "against feminism" have an attitude that marches with 7-league boots, while their analysis straggles far behind in a cloud of dust.

They need to close that attitude-analysis gap. No question about it. It would be to their benefit.