Friday, January 24, 2014

Why I'm a radical feminist...and so are you



A long time ago, when we were still in the negotiating stage of our relationship, C. and I had a conversation about men and women's roles in...well, the world. In the course of this conversation he said something along the lines of "the feminists kinda screwed us all over, because you used to able to support a family on a single person's salary and now both people pretty much have to work".

I remember being absolutely livid at this remark, having to remind myself that we had been brought up in very different environments and cultures, that even the most lovely and enlightened men often don't understand how society appears to women and how casual remarks like that can instantly cut to the bone of your very identity.

But mostly I was livid because I couldn't exactly argue with the gist of his point.
                          
Except, of course, it wasn't just the feminists who screwed us over.

                             

There's a couple of prevailing myths about feminism in our society. One is that feminism is a thing of the past, something that already happened. That it's as archaic as smoking indoors, a quaint thing people, possibly our parents, possibly Susan B. Anthony , did when they were young.

Another is that we no longer need feminism. That since its main aims have gloriously been accomplished, we ought to just roll up our sleeves and get to work already, instead of whining and burn bras, or whatever it is that feminists do.

Speaking of which,  there also seems to be a notion that feminism's fixed aims have something to do with hating men, not wearing lingerie, an abundance of body hair, and disliking stay-at-home-mothers. It is partly from these misconceptions that C.'s offhand comment came from, and while his argument has some merit (hence its infuriating quality),  it is the aim of this post to show that these notions are complete, unadulterated...bullshit.


There generally are, at this very point in time in the "first world", considered to be three waves of feminism. However in the last few years there's been much rumbling that indicates a fourth wave may be coming ashore even as I write this. It's about damn time.

It bears noting that there are other eras and emphasis of feminism in cultures and societies elsewhere, and that as always, a lot of facts that are up interpretation and debate.

Much of the first two waves of feminism had to do with what exactly society defined as women's work and whether women's physical and mental abilities were equal to men.



The part of C's statement that does have merit, is that the very act of women becoming breadwinners simply commercialized their previous role as homemakers and therefore directly, as well as indadvertedly, raised the cost of living for the American family. With the "housewife-ly conveniences" of the fifties already in place, working women went from cooking to warming, baking to buying, from cleaning and doing chores to increased dependance on expensive appliances to help speed these tasks up, tasks which, by the way,  are still mostly performed by women after their workday.

As often happens in a society who's systems seem designed to make people behave in a certain uniform manner, it could be said that women's liberation simply turned into an another form of subjugation.


Here's the point where many women might disagree with me. Where my mother would have twenty or thirty-odd years ago vehemently and aggressively, disagreed with me. "I'm not oppressed." she might have said "My mother could not choose a profession, could not support herself, did not have her own money. I could do any job I wanted. I don't have to be an indentured house-slave to a husband and children. I can sleep with anyone I like and not marry them. I can sleep with anyone and not chance becoming pregnant. I can be a parent and have a career."

All of which is true. Framed in this narrow way, it could be said that second wave liberal feminism is an almost unmitigated success. One could even argue that its existing kinks: pay inequality, sexism, rape-culture, the glass ceiling, are just residual effects, problems being ironed out, slowly, but surely.

No woman in their right mind would have argued against those advances in the 60s and 70s. Every small step forward was, after all that, a step in our long, sure-footed ascent towards equality. The real trouble is that these hard-won "advances" are actually just former male privileges. In fact, we as a society have for decades (if not centuries and millennia) been teaching women that they can only be successful if they behave the way men have . That in order to thrive, we must embrace the system that previously oppressed us.
                      

What's significant to me about both 1st and 2nd wave feminism though, is that neither of them actually did much to shift our society's core values. We just let women in to partake to those values.
                     

In many ways second wave feminism succeeded so well, that the movement "worked itself out of a job". It radicalized women just enough to push through the most pressing social reforms required, to fix the most glaring injustices in our social structure. Once that initial push was over, the same women who a decade earlier had taken to the streets to protest the inelasticity of their place in society, were tucked away in the workplace, simply too busy trying to climb the corporate ladder, manage having a family and a career, and making ends meet to continue bettering society.

We went to work, literally, integrating ourselves fully into the society as it was, and in no time at all it was business as usual. The eighties rolled around and there certainly was a sense of  "I saw the best minds of the my generation destroyed by promises of power-suits and Cosmopolitans". Feminism became a dirty word, unless there was a "post", in front of it. We were clearly moving up in the world; from the office to the board room, from the sidelines to the center court, from the kitchen to the House of Representatives. And this, of course, was only the beginning...

                      
Except that instead of our culture being flooded with women in powerful positions, changing our politics, putting out their distinctive experience on how we want to shape our world, hammering out those remaining problems with how our societies fail them (among other groups of people), we've seen...well, very little.

Instead of handing women a previously untold amount of power, the dominant paradigm seems to have simply harnessed women's power for its own purposes.

                                    Smiliest flower girls ever?
I would argue that where we are now, is not that different from where we were before "women's libbers".

In the workplaces our grandmothers could only dream of, women are told to "lean in", and "to prioritize", that they can have it all and if they don't have it all, they're just not trying hard enough.

Time and time again we have seen the "behave like men, or get out" logic used to explain why women do not seem to thrive in certain fields, or professions. It is given as a reason women don't make up half the senators, half the CEOs, half the highly-regarded Hollywood directors.

We've created new low-paying, undervalued jobs to make a profit from replacing the work homemakers used to do, most often filled by...you guessed it, women.

I grew up in a "post-feminist" society. One who's advances, cultural and political, would make the National Organization For Women faint with delight: universal paid maternity leave, abortion no longer on the political table and free for all (if you want to argue with me about abortion, you're more than welcome to, just read this first) female prime ministers and a president, more than 40% percent of parliamentary representatives are women,  monthly allowance for every child a family has...
Not to mention things like free education and free healthcare that greatly benefit women.


My mother, as previously mentioned, was one of those work-loving feminist activists and from an early age I knew the basic tenets of second wave liberal feminism. All through my childhood, she still worked tirelessly at fine-tuning the system, demanding pay-equality as the union representative at her work place, writing letters and arguing fiercely.Yet as I entered my teens, it became painfully apparent that her brand of feminism didn't address the concerns and questions I had as a teenage girl in the 90s. The uniform Scandinavian idea that everyone worked, played, behaved the same, equal way, seemed stifling to me. Our cultural idea egalitarianism too tightly tied into the homogeneousness of the culture (white, middle-class, Lutheran), that we were all the same, that men and women ostensibly, were the same. And that though seemingly we were treated equal, there were narrow expectations into which we had to fit. Intuitively, more than rationally, I knew that whether it was how my eight-grade best friend wanted to play hockey with the boys and was ridiculed for that, to how there were never any girls in any of the punk bands we went to see, that this somehow, was a feminist issue.

Which is when I discovered my own brand of feminism. Or rather, I discovered that I could have one.

Cigarette girl, Governor's Isl'd [i.e., Island]  (LOC)

The 90s of course, is roughly where the beginnings of third wave feminism are dated. This wave began first in the form of simply realizing that there was still a lot the second wave had not addressed. Third-wave feminism also has some of its beginnings in the DIY culture of 90s, the now distant echoes of Riot Girrrl, making zines, being irreverent to the boy-worshiping of rock 'n roll and figuring out ones own rules for sex and love and art. It also stems from a wider understanding that second wave feminism does not properly address the added discrimination that women of color, different social classes, or sexual orientations outside the norm have to deal with.

My own feminist awakening came particularly in discovering that there were no viable role models when it came to being the kind of girl/ woman I wanted to become.

In my early and mid-twenties I was what I would call "A Virgin Suicides"-feminist, hell-bent on the idea that one could be into typically feminine shit and still be a feminist and that, in fact, reclaiming our frilly dresses, wistful romanticism and wild passion and bringing them to the forefront of Western culture was the way for us to enter the mainstream. It's nice to see that the slow infiltration of women in the arts, that began in the late 90s and early the oughts, has paid off in the current boom of women in popular culture, the proliferation of girl bands, woman-centric film and TV, and of course, online content. All of which appears to be doing its slow, surreptitious work at shifting attitudes.

However, it's my opinion that being able to watch "Girls" on prime time television, is not quite enough.


The reason why third wave feminism is so difficult to define, is that unlike the first two waves, this movement has no single unifying purpose behind its rise, only that vague sense of unease with where second wave feminism had left us, a frustration of the slow progress we've been making and an outrage with the constant backsliding when it comes to even the most basic rights of girls and women. You don't really meet a lot of women who when asked would state: "I'm a third wave feminist." Because of the broadness of the issues and the demographics involved, third wave feminism encompasses a lot of smaller definitions of feminism.

The emphasis of third-wave feminism certainly reflects the battles won by second wave feminism, but its aims and goals were/ are more focused on the idea that individual women need individual expression for their feminist needs, within the wider framework of feminist thought.

Which is where radical feminism comes in. For me at least. Now, radical feminism as an actual historical movement, is somewhat a thing of the past, its ideology having peaked in the late 60s, early 70s. Its widespread misuse to describe any seemingly "extreme" feminist thought is understandable, because certainly a lot of pretty politically "out-there" people have applied the moniker to themselves (Think feminists who oppose transsexuals...eye-roll. "Liberation for all! Except these people." Wtf?). However in the wider context of third (and fourth?) wave feminism, the term totally makes sense.

The litmus test for feminism in general has for a long time been "If you think women are people, then you're a feminist." Similarly, the most succinct metaphor for radical feminism I've ever seen was published in Bitch Magazine a few years ago: "Second wave feminists just want a piece of the pie. Radical feminists want a totally different pie." I actually wish it had said that they want to bake a totally different pie, but hey, you wouldn't want to paint women as some kind of pie-baking homemakers, right?
                         
But what do they mean by "a totally different pie", you might be asking?

Now, liberal feminism would have you believe that the only way for us to advance is conquer and devour arenas previously thought to be exclusively the realm of men. 

To a degree, I find this accurate. Only through representation can we set about changing prevailing attitudes. We need political, artistic and cultural agency. To start with. And we do need to make up fifty-percent of a lot of different fields to do this.

The core thought of radical feminism goes much further than this though. It argues that we actually need to completely reassess and overhaul many of the fields we consider important in our society. And that women's issues relate to a wider framework of other societal malaise. 


The feminists of my mom's generation, truly believed that in order to achieve this "equality", we had to prove that we could be as good as men at whatever our society valued, regardless of the inherit merit of the actual thing we were trying to achieve.

For example, radial feminism would argue that instead of simply cheering on say, a female banking executive as a great example of what women can achieve, we should look at whether being a banking executive who doesn't help poor women not to lose their homes, or a CEO who's company discriminates against female employees, is actually something that anyone should aspire to. Whether it be female boxing champions, Hillary Clinton's run to be the first woman president of the United States, or half the generals in the US army being women, radical feminism looks at the wider consequences of what's typically considered "women's advancement in society".

It is the credo of second wave feminism if that if some woman, somewhere wants to be the captain of a nuclear submarine, run Goldman Sachs, or play in a men's pro-football team, that is our battle.

However the question radical feminists ask everyday is: How is it feminism for women to get to participate in a system that oppresses other people?

                           Children at Raja Yoga Academy, Point Loma  (LOC)
It's not. Or if it is, only in the narrowest definition of the word.
 

In our quest for liberation, many of us have become confused about what exactly is it that we're trying to get liberated from. Our roles in a post-second-wave-feminist society maybe different than before, but they are as narrow as ever. Our society implies that the experience of being a woman is somehow singular, not plural. That a woman can only be a limited amount of things and have a limited range of experiences at a time and most importantly, that a woman is only successful in this society when she conforms to its patriarchal norms and mores (Aren't ya proud of me for getting this far in a post about feminism before I used the P-word?).

That we can vote for one of two male candidates, or marry whomever we want, or fuck whomever we want, or buy a pharmaceutical product that may or may not mess with our endocrine system, go to work when our kids are little, or smoke, or wear what we like, is that really all the agency we want?

It is the thought of modern radical feminism, that instead of trying to get through the glass ceiling, we might just want to admit that the building had faulty design, raze it to the ground and built a different one.



Whether we like it or not, we continue to live in a society that constantly devalues the female experience and encourages women to pursue the accepted modes of behavior, built-in at a time when we were still mostly relegated to the kitchens, parlors and brothels.

Not only that, but this singularity of female experience in our culture, pits women against each other in trying to validate their own experience of the world.

In our culture where there is a constant, and often unfavorable comparison of one woman's experience to another's. Married women against single, working moms against stay-at-home, mothers against child-free women, large against thin, poor against wealthy, Christian against Muslim, Republican against Democrat; women with different morals, religious beliefs, biological sexes, styles of dress, sexual orientation, appearances, races, are constantly, both overtly, and subtly, pitted against each other in our media, education system and government institutions .

For instance, the origins of the "mommy wars" that have been in the forefront of conversation about the female experience of mothering in the last decade, stem from this very same rift. Personally, I feel like  this phenomenon should be called "the mommy warcrimes", because there's so much judgement and guilt around this issue, most of it inflicted on women by other women.

It always mildly annoys me when people say things like "there's never been a better time to be a woman" because it takes such a myopic view of history and geography. Sure, we are in many ways much more enfranchised than women of fifty, or a hundred years ago, for the reasons my mother would have been sure to point out. In terms of most human societies for a very long time, this is a better time than ever to be a woman in the "developed" world.

                     
But this kind of thinking breeds complacency about our current issues, and is willfully ignorant of the fact that outside the Western Nations, where most women in the world in fact reside, little has changed since the days of the suffragettes, and that furthermore, our "liberation" may actually be contributing to oppression of women in other parts of globe.

It ignores also the fact that while ostensibly, white, straight, cis women have certain rights, they may not extend to women of other races, classes, or sexual orientations/ identities. That women are not some homogenous group of human beings, but that our needs and problems are diverse, and need to addressed as such.  We're also not a minority, given that we make up slightly more than 50% of the planet's population, and the fact that we are oppressed, should give us some indication of how much work there is to be done before we can become truly egalitarian society.

                     
Furthermore, every advance we do have, has been granted to us because our mothers and grandmothers and hundreds of thousands of other women (and men) demanded them, radicalized and organized. A lot of women who do identify as feminists, still balk at the "radical" label, as thought it alone pushed you over to the dreaded territory of bra-burning and man-hating.
                  
If this is the case for you. Let me ask you this: You think Emmeline Pankhurst was a middling feminist?  (Note that the word wasn't wide-spread at this time-women's rights was more commonly used. But this is a thought-excercise.) You think Lucretia Mott was? You think Harriet Tubman, or Sojourner Truth, or Susan B. Anthony would have called themselves so-so feminists ? No. Because being an advocate of women's right in their time was considered radical. And frankly, not that much has changed in the intervening two hundred years.

In the title of this post I have called you, dear reader, a radical feminist. Was I trying to be provocative? Yes.  Because I hoped that perhaps I could get you to read this, possibly the longest blog-post I've ever written. Really, by all means, figure out yourself what kind of feminist you actually want to be. Because...
                                     Woman with a child of upper class. St. Croix, the Danish West Indies

To be perfectly honest with you, whenever a woman tells me they are not a feminist, I am extremely tempted to ask them to hand over their right to vote, wear pants, go to work, make legal decisions on their own, have the custody of their children, their right to personal property and any other right that was won for them by the thousands of suffragettes and feminists of yore.  

And frankly, I'm sick and tired of people, especially women, misusing the term "radical feminist" to imply that you hate men and sex, just as I'm tired of women who's statements about feminism contain the infamous "but".  As in "I'm a feminist but..." or "I'm not a femisnist, but..." 

Feminism is like the entire female experience. There's no single kind. There's your kind of feminism, there's my kind feminism, there's my mom's kind of feminism. There's there's cultural feminism, there's mothering feminism, sex-positive feminism, eco-feminism, trans-feminism.

Heck, you could even be a fourth wave feminist!

Maybe you have never encountered sexual harassment, sexism,  felt your that our culture is oppressive, or belittling to your experience, or how you view yourself,  had other women stepping over you to get to somewhere where you should both be going together? If so, consider yourself lucky. Then ask yourself what are the odds that you'll get to live the rest of your life without having some of these things happen to you. Then ask yourself if you care whether these things have happened to your friends, your relatives, your co-workers, whether they'll happen to your daughter, or your son's future partner. If not, I'm sorry I wasted your time, you obviously have not need for feminism and I was wrong to imply you might be a radical feminist.

However, let's revise:


Think that women are people? Congratulations, you are now a feminist! Think that there's something wrong with how our society treats and views mothers, teenage girls, ambitious women, women of color, grandmothers, trans-women, undocumented immigrant women, homemakers? Congratulations! You might just be a radical feminist!
                      Veils

Welcome to the battle sister, we have much work ahead.
                              Portrait of a young woman, ca. 1856-1900.

Now that you've made it here, I'm curious. Questions, comments, counter arguments? Oh and check out this fancy-pants disclaimer.

Still interested in further reading?

Bitch Magazine
Ms. Magazine
Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Feminism But Were Afraid To Ask
Feministing
Jezebel

                


Ps. Though I talk in this post exclusively to you, the reader, as a woman, I want to acknowledge that yes men, too can and should be radical feminists. I'm' in the process of converting my husband to one.

68 comments:

  1. Your awesomeness knows no bounds... ;-) This is fantastic and has given me SO much to think about. I will probably be back in a couple days with lots more to say after I spend a few hours re-reading this, following some of your links, and generally ruminating on all of it. As always: thank you!

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    1. Wow. Thanks Laura. I really look forward to "hearing your thoughts", but no pressure. It took me a long time to write this, 'cos it takes a long time to digest and sort out ideas, so yeah, take your time.
      Oh and I'm actually planning a post inspired by something you wrote a long time ago about friendships, so thank you also for the inspiration.

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    2. Just seeing this now. I'm excited to read the friendship post! I really REALLY need to get back to blogging and just writing in general!

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  2. I just wanted to check in to cheer and applaud, hopefully I will come back to with a longer response when my brain is more awake. :)

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    1. Thank you much, I really look forward to what you'll came up with. Also, my brain is so very asleep right now and it's past eight, so I can relate.

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  3. Well, I very much enjoyed reading that. I definitely feel like there's a long way to go for women, and feminism. Largely because many women are unknowingly undermining themselves, in my opinion. I work in kitchens now, a largely male-dominated workplace, and where most of the women in restaurants are waitresses instead of cooks. It took nearly two months for my male co-workers to stop walking around on eggshells, worried I would be offended by their swearing or off-colour puns about food, or worrying that something might be too heavy for me to carry as if being a woman meant I was frail. I don't want special treatment, I just want to be treated like a person.

    I know it's not going to get any easier either because I hope to rise in the ranks of seniority and someday run a cafe or a restaurant, or at least be head of a dining room or a kitchen. I know from experience that most men don't take commands or direction from me at all well (especially if they are older than me!) and that women get prickly when they find out I'm willing to push and fight to get to heights they weren't able to achieve. But we shouldn't have to fight, no more than the men who want those positions. My breasts and vagina don't suddenly make me a lesser leader, a lesser anything. But a lot of women seem to happy to just accept it, to accept that being a chef, a mechanic, a welder, etc. that those are still 'men's jobs' and that they just can't get into it even if they want to.

    I don't see myself as someone who can make big changes in terms of feminism, or how our society treats women, but I'm at least doing my best to change it in my immediate world. I want the women around me to see that they can be strong, that they can take charge, and that the universe won't implode when they do it. And that most men can eventually learn to set aside their misconceptions and actually respect you as a person. It's all in the nitty gritty details now, up to each and every one of us to work on those little spaces that we can reach and do our best to make this world a better place for the next generations.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it dear and I'm really interested in hearing about your job. I've worked in a very male-dominant environment before and in many ways enjoyed it a lot more than an all-woman work crew, because things were more direct. It boggles my mind that so many jobs are still so gendered and in that way you totally can make big waves in terms of feminism, by pursuing this path that isn't necessarily well-trodden by women. I know it's really hard to come up with how we can change things, especially when the problems seem so overwhelmingly big, but putting your awareness of how things are and how they should be and bringing your experience and empathy as a woman into your everyday life is a great place to start. Thanks for your thoughts and hugs.

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  4. Voi Milla miten olet nähnyt vaivaa..
    Täytän keväällä 40, poika18v. Jonkinlaisia "isoja" lukuja siis.Väkisin mieli palaa aikaan jolloin olin tyttö. 70-l syntynyt, äiti liberaali vaan ei radikaali nainen, joka halusi kasvattaa tyttärensä "omiksi itsekseen" ja "vahvoiksi naisiksi",tämän tarkoittaessa juuri sitä, että me saisimme valita kaiken minkä pojatkin, jos halusimme. Itse hän oli saanut ankaran, sodan kokeneiden vanhempien kasvatuksen; kotoa pääsi pois vasta kun oli kihloissa.
    Isäni kanssa syntyi kaksi tytärtä, mutta avioliitto ei ollut onnellinen. Olin yksinhuoltajaäidin tytär betonilähiössä, oli sisko, äidillä oli uusi mies, eronnut hänkin. Uuden avioliiton myötä koko perhe muutti Libyaan, keskelle erämaata. Siellä naiset matkustivat autojen lavalla lampaiden kanssa, olivat hunnutettuja, mutta myös isommissa kaupungeissa työssäkäyviä, ja asevelvollisia. Monella miehellä oli useampi vaimo. Näin kauniit kasvot Islamista, mutta myös arvaamattoman diktatuurin. Olin kuitenkin siellä valtavan onnellinen.
    Vastahakoisesti palasin Suomeen lähiökouluun, jossa tytöt meikkasivat, kuuntelivat Dingoa ja olivat toisilleen julmia. Itse olin yhteisölliseen elämään tottunut täysi lapsi. Koulukiusattuna pakenin kirjallisuuteen ja siihen samaiseen "virgin suicides" feminismiin kuin sinäkin.16vuotiaana ajattelin etten koskaan tee lapsia, koska maailma oli niin hullu paikka.
    Tulin äidiksi 22v, erittäin toivotusti. Aloin pian toteuttaa kotoa omaksuttua roolia, ensisijaisesti äiti, mutta "saisin ja pystyisin kaikkeen muuhunkin." Silloin tänä päivänä vellova Äitiyssota ei vielä ollut saanut sellaisia muotoja kuin nykyisin, internetiä ei ollut keksitty, ja oma piirini oli kovin pieni. Kehitin lapsen kanssa ihan oman maailman, olin kylläkin tiukempi kuin oma äiti, mutta hellä, keskusteleva. Halusin kasvattaa empaattisen, hyvän ihmisen pojastani. Erosin kun poika oli 4v.
    Ollessani 28, poika 6, tapasin sitten "elämäni rakkauden." Joka kas vain, olikin nainen. Äkkiä huomasin eläväni elämää, josta tuli ihanaa, tapahtumarikasta lapsiperheen arkea, jossa myös naapurit ja heidän lapsensa muodostivat ihanan oman porukkansa, työni oli antoisaa ja parisuhde tasaarvoinen. Huomasin kuitenkin miten syväänjuurtuneita ajatusmallit olivat, kuinka heteronormatiiviseksi maailma oli rakennettu. Sukulaisnainen kysyi miksi, kun minähän olin "kaunis", olisinhan "voinut saada kenet miehen tahansa." Maailma oli kuitenkin jo muuttunut, siinä missä olisimme 70luvulla olleet lastensuojelutapaus, nyt elimme normaalia perheelämää. Mitä nyt puolisollani ei ollut oikeutta ostaa lapselle bussilippua. Moni asia lävähti vasten kasvoja, en vain ollut tullut ajatelleeksi, ne olivat sinänsä pieniä, mutta kuitenkin suuria. Jos olisimme saaneet lapsen yhdessä, vain toinen olisi kelvannut juridiseksi vanhemmaksi jne. perheensisäinen adoptio ei ollut vielä mahdollista. Seksuaalivähemmistöön kuuluva olin, mutta en silti kelvannut tietyille ihmisille, koska en ollut "valinnut puolta", olinhan tehnyt lapsen miehen kanssa. Yllätyksekseni sain osakseni eniten syrjintää vähemmistöltä johon itse kuuluin.
    Monen mutkan kautta tämän ikäiseksi tullessa, on ollut useita eri tilanteita joissa on saanut ravistella omia ajatusmallejaan. Saanut löytää sitä omaa määritelmäänsä feminismille, naiseudelle, ihmisyydelle. Oma poika, nuori mies, on antanut jälleen taas uutta näkökulmaa. Vaikuttaisi siltä, kuin tuossa ikäluokassa olisi rakentumassa joku ihan uusi feminismin muoto, joka ei ole mitenkään sukupuolisidonnainen.
    Naisyrittäjäna joudun usein vastaamaan kysymykseen; "onkohan omistaja paikalla." Tytötellään ja oletetaan. Toivon kuitenkin, että uuskonservatiivisuus ja muu tiukka lokerointi ovat ohimeneviä ilmiöitä, ja lapseni ikäiset mahdollisesti jo rakentavat uutta, aidosti tasaarvoisempaa maailmaa itselleen..
    Kommentista taisi tulla vain ylipitkä lyhennelty elämäntarina ;), mutta haluan että tiedät kuinka mielelläni luen sun kirjoituksia, ja kuinka paljon ne aina antavat :).

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    1. Oonkin kaipaillut kuuleppas sinua. Siis ei mitään paineita mutta aina ilahduttaa ihan suunnattomasti kun näen sinulta tulleen uuden, ajattelvaisen ja kauniisti kirjoitetun kommentin. Ihana, ihana tarina. Sinä se kuule vasta osaatkin kirjoittaa!
      Mustakin tuntuu että tässä on varmasti tulossa semmoinen uusi, feministinen/humanistinen/tasa-arvoinen/aktivistinen-herääminen, ja ehkä jopa noi uudet sanat/termit joita tässä useampikin kommentoija peräänkuuluttaa ja justiinsa toi nuorempi sukupolvi on siinä heräämisessä avainasemassa. Jotenkin on niin paljon toivoa itselläkin, tässä epätoivon suossa, ja nimenomaan semmoista "eläimen toivoa" joka ei tule aivoista (sieltä on kyllä kaikki toivo kaikonnut) vaan jostain selkäytimestä. Eletään jänniä aikoja. Toivottavasti säkin tiedät että sun ajatukset ihan oikeasti (eikä mitään blogaus-ylisanailua) valaisevat mun päiviä. Isot halit sinne lopultakin lumiseen Helsinkiin.

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    2. Voi kiitos tuosta! Mulla on ollut vähän liian rankkaa täällä päässä, enkä ole ehtinyt kommentoimaan (ainakaan niin etten olis ollut liian väsynyt tai muuten kykenemätön keskittymään mitenkään tuottamaani tekstiin..), puhumattakaan muusta kirjoittamisesta...siksi tuo kuulostaakin erityisen kivalta :). Nyt jos koskaan sunkaltaisten ihmisten olemassaolo antaa voimia ja uskoa siihen että asiat aina kuitenkin lopulta järjestyy..

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  5. Great post Milla! I always appreciate all of the time and energy you spend creating these thoughtful posts!

    Your point about the world basically allowing us to fill the roles of men rather than making room for women really resonated with me because it was something I came to realize as a young teen. Like you, I grew up with parents who told me I could be whatever I want; job, partner, number of children, whatever, I could have it all! I believed it until I was 14 and away at summer camp:

    I was with an organization called "Cadets"; very similar to the Scouts program but funded by the military...so it was basically Scouts but they let us shoot guns. I suppose it is a way for the country to get children interested in considering a career in the military. I didn't really care for the guns aspect, but the survival skills, orienteering, camping and canoeing were activities I loved. Of course, the handsome uniforms also appealed to my fashion-loving side; brass buttons and berets? So there!

    Anyway, throughout summer all cadets are tested and evaluated on their newly acquired skills and the highest scoring cadet from each company gets to lead their company during the closing ceremony parade (basically a giant military marching parade). I was very passionate about drill and was even on the drill team; I had to have that leading parade position so I strived for it all summer. As scores rolled in at the end of summer I was mortified to see that I had tied with someone for top of the company...a guy.

    There wasn't really much debate about who would lead the company; the next day I was informed the space would go to him. Angry and tearful I demanded an explanation and what I got was "well he's taller and has a deeper, louder voice so it will just work better". I could never be taller, I could never develop a deeper, louder voice...I could never be a man. Matched aptitude and ability didn't matter, as a girl I'd never have that leadership role because it just didn't look right.

    Of course I've encountered variations of this throughout my life since then, but I'd say that was the first real moment I felt the injustice of being a girl and I've been a radical feminist ever since! But like so many other women I find it hard to articulate and pin point what these problems are and how to make changes in the world around me, especially when women of other races and classes face much more difficult challenges than I, as a young upper-middle class white woman, do.

    There is still a lot of work ahead and I'm finding it hard to find my place in it all.

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    1. Oh my gosh, that sounds like a real rude awakening! I was never the kind of girl who was that interested in doing things considered "tomboyish", but I remember being absolutely infuriated at the slightest suggestion that I COULDN'T do those things. Your story is kind of the perfect text-book example of patriarchy in action, drilling into girls from a very young age that they just can't measure up to guys when push comes to shove. Of course, I can't say that I'm not glad the army lost even their slightest chance at grabbing your attention ;) A job well done, patriarchy.

      I think figuring out where one stands on these issues and what action one can take, are the hardest things about forming our world views. On the one hand you're right, just being a white middle-class person does give one a lot of privilege, but on the other hand acknowledging that this privilege is very limited can help us empathize with others who have even less privilege. That's just my personal opinion. I'll be elaborating on that point in some of my other answers here.

      I also think that acknowledging where one stands helps assess those situations where one hopes to be able to represent their best, most thoughtful side, when we are in situations where action is needed whether it be street harassment, bigoted comments, sexism at one's workplace, or nationally/ internationally upsetting assaults on the rights of women. There's definitely been times in my life where I've watched these kinds of things unfold and been paralyzed about how to handle a situation, or I've handled it wrong.

      ooops overlong comment, continued below:

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    2. I actually have an amazing story about having your wits about in those kinds of immediate situations. Fifteen years ago, when I first moved to London, my friend Jen and I lived in a rather rough part of town and had to walk home from work around 1 or 2 am some nights. There's was a fair amount of street harassment, some of which was actually really scary and we didn't always get to come home at the same time.

      At the time neither of us had a cell phone either so needless to say it was pretty scary walk. Anyways, one night we were walking home from the tube when a car full of dudes started following us. They were obviously drunk, and began first hitting on us very aggressively and then when we tried to ignore them (my chosen tactic at the time) they got very verbally abusive. Instead of running, or flipping out and hurling back abuse and escalating a potentially already bad situation, which were potential responses I'd had to these kinds of situations before, my friend Jen did something instead that TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND.

      She turned around, walked up to the car grabbed the guy on the driver's seat (english cars ;) by the collar and started talking to him very loudly, but articulately explained how inappropriate, frightening and aggressive their behavior was, how often it happened to us and how it made women feel and then continued to ask how the guy would feel and what he would do if someone did this to his sister, or mother, or girlfriend.

      The end result was that the guys apologized profusely and ended up offering to escort us home to make sure we got there safe. Jen was really nice after they apologized (I was very quiet and timid the whole time) and we'd see those dudes on and off at supermarket and the streets for the remainder of the time we lived in the neighborhood and they were always really respectful and sweet.

      I remember asking Jen how on earth she had courage and composure to just do that, she told me that it occurred to her that maybe no one had ever explained to these guys that it wasn't just a joke to us, not to mention put it in the perspective of comparing all women to women they cared about. It was a total revelation. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen and I've actually used the same tactic successfully since then, in different variations when explaining to guys why harassment is not the same as hitting on a girl.

      As for non-immediate, non-personal attacks on women in general and what being a feminist empowers one to do about them; I I think like acknowledging one's stand makes it easier to do remote action when things like Steubenville happen and not just shrug and click away from the new's source. While writing letters and emails and signing petitions may seem like a weak action, it is better than impotent (haha) rage and also shows solidarity towards women in dire need of it.

      Anyway, sorry about the longest reply ever, this stuff just occurred to me since you brought up figuring out where and how one can stand up for women's rights as a whole, as well as one's own rights as a woman. Thank you so much for your thoughts and support, dear and happy winter!

      ps. I know I've already said this, but I miss your bloggings...

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    3. Wow. I need to curb my ramblings :D

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    4. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this with us, Milla. Inspiring and empowering!

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    5. I agree that some men just aren't aware of certain issues because they never have to experience them...thanks for sharing!

      I am currently operating a vapid photoblog, but once summer comes around and we can go outside (its -40!) some stories and adventures in text form might appear:

      http://alifeinpic.blogspot.ca/

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  6. Awesome post! And I really do mean awe-inpiring. This is what I've been waiting to read for years. You very clearly laid out my sentiments on feminism and helped me better define them, so thank you.

    I'm currently reading the Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel. While I was reading this morning the narrative began to explain why the women's role in the clan (this taking place in prehistoric Europe) was so strongly over powered by men. The reason being was that the men feared the women's ability to produce life and saw them as incredibly powerful beings. So for generations they were taught to over power the women and keep them ignorant of their potential for the balance of their clan.

    This notion struck me, and to some degree I still see it as existing in parts of our Western society today. Largely the way I see this fourth(?) wave of feminism, similar to you, is that for the sake of our future and our planet we need to shift to a more matriarchal paradigm. We can enjoy the pie of the men, but we really need to season it up and give it the flare of the feminine spirit, make sure it's all encompassing, forward moving.

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    1. Hi hon, thanks for your dear comment. Part of my aim for this post was to try to lay this stuff out as clearly and persuasively as I could, while maintaining my own point-of-view in the mix.

      The sad/ crazy/ effed-up thing is that we don't really have clear examples of societal structures alternative to our own, we only have snippets, shadows and ambiguous information. The origins of the rise/ dominance of the patriarchy are very shadow-y and not well documented. There's a lot theories about and certainly I've read work that seems to shed light to this issue, but I've never found anything particularly all-encompassing.

      I shy away from using the word matriarchy, partly because there's a lot of vague, utopian thought attached to it and partly because I find the duality a little troubling; I agree with everyone who commented on it does seem like we are moving/ need to move towards evaluating our society from a different perspective, one that embraces the strengths of women and rejoices in different view-points, BUT I honestly don't know whether I subscribe to the view that everything would be peaceful and hunky-dory if we were a matriarchy either. To me it feels like lumping all women together and there's also the issue of simply thinking of everything in male/female terms.

      Ultimately I agree with you though, a change is coming the pie of women is gonna get pretty tasty. Who knows, maybe we'll get to find out what that brave new world might look like ;)

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

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    2. Thank you for your reply. It's probably evident this isn't one of the issues (if you can call it that) that I've spent my time studying or pondering. Only bits have caught my attention here and there recently. So thank you for your direct response. Going forward I'm realizing more and more this is something I'm going to have to spend time on for my own benefit and that of my community's. I'll come back later with more thorough ideas;)

      I did mean, adding in the information about Jean M. Auel's book, that it opened my eyes to a new perspective. I wouldn't for a second believe it as true as there is no evidence to what they thought during this period, but it is an interesting take on the dominant role of men.

      Anyways, I love these types of posts and appreciate the time and energy you've put into them- and responding to comments. They stir up my mind and give me a window to see these 'issues' through, which I otherwise might not always indulge in. I must say, since I began following your blog years ago, it's been amazing to see your writing flourish. It's mighty impressive.

      Keep up the good work!

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    3. No I totally got you, one of the things I'm doing with these replies, is that while I'm trying to reply to all of them individually, I'm also trying to kind of cohesively address some of the things that got left out of this post and questions that may arise. So the whole question of the matriarchy just keeps popping up in the comments and I took the opportunity to look at it. I should have added (I'm kind of replying to these comments on the side of doing other stuff, and I apologize that I'm not always holding all of my thoughts in my headcase in the right order ;) that this was such a reply. I should have added too that it's really just the realization I've personally come to.

      Also, it's not evident at all m'dear! Your comment was thought-provoking and interesting with the best of them. Each person's view open a new view-point for me too. I feel really lucky I've somehow managed to attract such a smart, kind and thoughtful bunch of folks.

      I read that book too a few years ago and was fascinated by the authors way of stepping into the mind of a different paradigm. I think the kind of reasoning Auel presents is totally possible and I wish there was more insight into exactly how the rule of men became so pervasive. We just know so little of our early societies and minds. Actually I recently read somewhere that based on the hand prints archeologists now think most early cave painters may have been women, HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?

      Anyway, thank you for your kind response and I have a book rec for you from the same person who convinced me to read The Clan, Amber of Violet Folklore. It's called "The Seven Daughters Of Eve" and it's about genetics in pre-historic Europe. It's really vivid and amazing and mixes hard science with a little bit of fiction in a very approachable way. If you haven't read it yet get your hands on it and let me know what you think. It really made my brain move around. Love that feeling.

      Also, blush. That's a really nice thing to say about my writing. Thank you <3

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    4. So dyslexic. How you like my eloquence now? ;)

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  7. Sure, I'm a radical feminist. Of course! Still, I loved reading this. Thank you for putting this out there, I am sure that it must have taken you ages to get all that down.
    One thing though, why is your mother and her generation in the past tense all the time? From other posts I'd gotten the impression that your Mom is alive and well (hopefully I'm not wrong...), and certainly I think that women from different waves of feminism make for interesting discussion and are a real strength for feminism today. I'm sure it was probably not intentional on your part to put them all into the past tense, but I still thought that it was worth pointing out. I suppose this is one of the pitfalls of classing feminism into waves... it can sort of sweep living, thinking women away into the history books.
    Another thing I wanted to ask you is this: given that many of the issues that you brought up as concerns of radical feminism enter into realms of other movements and ideologies, and are in fact human concerns and places where humanity as a whole is suffering, why do you think it is important to come at these matters from a radical feminist perspective rather than just as an anarchist, socialist, situationist, etc?
    I hope you are reading this in two days time. I just happened to be thinking of these things while I was reading, but I feel a bit guilty writing in, as you surely deserve a break!

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    1. Yeah! I wish it was more of an of course, but there's a lot of different views in the world, right? That's why we're here discoursing away. I glad you enjoyed it, thank you. And thanks for bringing your thoughts to the table, there's nothing more rewarding than some though questions ;)

      So yeah, my mom is alive and kicking (thanks for your concern), but as I've written before she's much less politically active now, sadly I believe this is simply the consequence of disillusionment and battle weariness that one develops over time as change becomes elusive.

      The short answer to both of your questions is partly that since this is a personal blog, and like I said I'm not a scholar, I can only write about topics from my own point of view. Honestly that's part of why I write about "issues" I care about, because the personal aspect of it makes them more approachable for people who don't identify as feminist/ environmentalist/ homemakers/ whatever I'm writing about. And 'cos you know, I have this tiny window and I feel like if I can use it to convert even one person, that'd be worth it.

      Like I've said before (I think. Maybe that's in one of my unpublished pieces. Shit. Well anyway...) the way writing works for me is that I take what I want to say and find a lens, or a window if you will, to look at it through. Then I build the house, or camera around it.

      In this case the piece is formed around something my husband said and something my mom said a bazillion times during my first 16-years. I'm looking at whole movement through my own little experience and using my actual awakening to feminism to discuss certain things. I agree with you that there's a divisiveness to the different waves of feminism, but just like sticking to the word "feminism" until a better term comes along, using established terms is a way to get to talk about these things.

      The reason I'm so critical of the second wave has to do with a number of things: it is THE WAVE of feminism the largest number of people know about and also the one from which a lot the negative preconceived notions stem from, I also spent a lot of my early 20s battling with 2nd wave feminists about their rigid ideas of womanhood and those experiences compiled with the stagnancy sticking to second wave has created kind of makes me feel like we need to just move on. Like, I say in the post it seems like second wave feminism is still busy congratulating itself on getting the pill in the pharmacy, instead of continuing to better women's lives in this society en masse. There certainly are many amazing older feminists working tirelessly at bettering our lot, but as a mass movement it has stalled.

      I hope this post does make it abundantly clear how much we owe to those women and how much work we can all still do together, but it was my objective to shake the preconceived notions about that era, part of this movement and really drive home the point that feminism is current and important. Which brings me to your other question.

      Part of the reason is that feminism is a good "gateway drug" into intersectionalism and acting one's morals out in a wider societal context, but saying that everyone should have a certain political persuasion, is like saying everyone should have a certain moral persuasion, it gets a lot trickier and harder to convince people. Honestly in my opinion if fifty plus percent of the world's population acknowledged that they are at a disadvantage it hopefully would enable them to have a lot more empathy towards others who have even less privilege. I think that adopting a feminist (or any other political) point of view opens you up to learning about a whole range of issues.

      I hope I was able to express myself in a way that makes sense. Thanks again for reading and commenting and asking though questions.

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    2. So many grammatical errors...so little time ;)

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    3. Hi again. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. And I have just been looking through the other comments here and that has also been very interesting.

      Also:

      'Honestly in my opinion if fifty plus percent of the world's population acknowledged that they are at a disadvantage it hopefully would enable them to have a lot more empathy towards others who have even less privilege. I think that adopting a feminist (or any other political) point of view opens you up to learning about a whole range of issues.'

      Fair enough! I think about this from time to time, so it's lovely to have the opportunity to get another person's thoughts on the matter.

      Thank you again for all this. Wishing you a lovely end of January and I'm off to look at your new post!

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    4. Thanks for being around and commenting. Really makes my day. ♡

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  8. First time visitor, introduced by the lovely Sadhbh at wherewishescomefrom :) Fantastic post, inspiring and thoughtful

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    1. Welcome! Thanks for commenting and reading and saying such kind things.

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  9. I've been reading your blog for years now, though this is the first time I've ever commented. It has been really exciting to watch your blog develop and to see the ways in which your writing has paralleled my own experience... This post, in particular, feels like a homecoming to me or a meeting of a kindred spirit.

    I have struggled with my feminism for quite some time... Usually because I have wanted to be able to clarify my particular embedded-ness in my own culture/time/body/experience and to note the ways in which those factors have all shaped my feminism. My feminism is radically different from that espoused by other women (from Sarah Palin to Naomi Wolf) and it is important to me that they not get lumped together. But the act of distinguishing my feminism is an important one, I think. It starts a conversation. It helps me clarify my position.

    Another thing that has often tripped me up is my frustration with the reification of femininity that seems to happen so often with feminism (ironically). The celebration of the feminine, the enshrinement of the matriarch... I understand the idea that it's important to try swing the pendulum the other way, but I really balk at the notion that "the feminine" means something stable. Effectively, that means that certain values are continued to be coded as masculine or feminine and it is up to "the feminists" to either take on masculine attributes or shun them, depending on the time and place. As you're saying (I think), as a radical feminist, I want to destabilize the notion that there are masculine and feminine attributes. I recognize that we are socially conditioned in gendered ways, but there is nothing inherent about that! (Well, I actually feel like most things are socially conditioned, so I suppose gender is as real as money, if we're going to go there!) It is the radical feminist in me that recognizes the built-ness of these oppressive structures and hopes that recognizing their fabrication will help us bring them down and make ourselves anew with intention and care.

    How that happens? I'm not sure. But I certainly think it's worth while to keep trying, to keep talking, to keep listening.

    This was pretty musing/rambling, but I mostly wanted to say that I really appreciated this post, your always thoughtful articulation.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for your readership and THANKS for this comment. How epic. Its been heartening to me to find out that there are in fact all of these other women who are so kindred. Whenever I feel like bad-mouthing the internet, I remember to be grateful for that.

      I agree with you that acknowledging one's feminism is important, it makes a stance and opens the floor for discourse.

      And I'm rather with you on the whole enshrining of the matriarch as the alternative to the patriarch, as I explained above, I'm just not sure what exactly replacing one with the other would look like beyond, utopian hippie visions, and would rather work towards what I view as an egalitarian society, a "different, but equal view" that encompasses not just masculinity and/or femininity, but the idea that those are not fixed ideas.

      I love contrasting gender with money, that's a really good comparison.

      Thank you again, I really appreciated your comment. It made me really think.

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  10. over the last year i've started to let go of my deeply misogynistic world view. as a younger person up and through high school, i was a fervent feminist. i read the feminist cannon and revolution my rallying cry. but over time, watching women reduce themselves to a aesthetic strategy, belittling themselves and limiting themselves to decorations filled me with hatred. for over a decade the idea of feminism to me was archaic. i considered myself humanist (as though it was an "either or" choice). i now realize how small and judgmental i really was. unable to show compassion for anyone, existence became a contest for me on how to best crush my emotions. anything not based in rationality was weakness.

    i believe strongly in personal responsibility, pointing fingers at the patriarchy about the choices i've made makes little sense to me.
    realizing the game is rigged, and it's time to stop playing in a system that doesn't count me for what and who i am, however, makes a lot of sense. and i think, i hope these two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

    i have a daughter. seeing her try to understand what is a good woman and what is a bad woman (so different from a good man and a bad man) has often found me digging my fingernails into my palms with frustration and ineptitude. gender and sexuality are relatively easy concepts to explain to a 9 year old but maybe they won't always be. i try to teach her to ask questions and think critically. but i can't gauge the progress. i don't know the destination, we're all journeymen in this.

    my dude is not keen on feminism in any way, and most of my thoughts on the topic seem to alienate him more. i can't explain how unbalanced it is that i do 80% of house work and child care with a full time job without making him feeling attacked and defensive.and that's isn't the point of my feminism. he's doing the best he can. but i wonder what words will awake my experience in his mind. i think it's most likely me really listening without and agenda to his. it seems counter intuitive, but i think his defensiveness comes for fear that he is not really love and accepted. jotain sellaista.

    i wonder if you have any thoughts on intersectionality and feminism?

    i just want to say (not very concisely) that this has been a nurturing read. human and real and compassionate and wry. thank you.

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    1. Wow. This is such a fascinating comment. Thank you. So I didn't end up using the word intersectionality, because like I said above I was trying to keep this post concise (hahah) and approachable and on point, but it is the word that embodies what I mean about feminism enabling empathy towards others with even less privilege. I really believe that if one begins to look at injustice one cannot actually stop, ending up at a very intersectional viewpoint. That's certainly what happened to me as my worldview evolved and I think its also what has happened to C.

      In fact, I think after a time he started internalizing that my feminist ranting was connected to other issues that we care about and eventually trough kind of rote learning I think that if you asked him now he'd have to admit that he's a feminist. It's been my great challenge to try to be rational and unemotional when this stuff comes up and empathize with his position (I'm afraid this often happens as an afterthought.). I feel like all too often we hoist the burdens of "white-male-hood" onto guys without explaining that the fact that really most of them are not better off enough to not have solidarity. In a way, I feel like the understanding that one gains from any lack of privilege is really a privilege in and of itself. Not in the way of social advancement, but in those expectations having less hold on you. White, cis men are still totally fucked over by this system and the sooner everyone realizes that, the better off we all are. The game is rigged indeed and the however we all come to that realization it's an important one.

      I think you're right on the money about about the love and acceptance piece, I really think that men are under a lot of pressure in our society too, and they don't have a lot of the outlets women do. And they do have this burden, guilt, confusion. I think you're response is very intuitive actually. I hope you're both able to get through and see each other's views. It's such a struggle, between any two people.

      Thank you again, especially for baring your soul and your kind words.

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  11. The whole "mom vs. mom war"...it needs to end! I'm a stay-at-home mom because it's what's best for my family. I respect all mothers who do what's best for their child and family, whether that means working or staying home. It's hurtful to hear what society thinks of us stay-at-homers. I have been brought to tears many times. I DO believe we as women can't rise up until we stop holding each other down. We are our own worst enemies. We could accomplish so many things if we would only set aside our differences and stand together.

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    1. I think women are extra sensitive about this because most of them have conflicting feelings about the issue. I think we often project our own guilt/ perceived short-comings onto the choices of others and critique them more willingly than admit our own perceived failures. As a child-free woman I totally see both sides of the debate and feel like a lot of the time the statements have little to do with the "wrong" choices of others and a lot to do with our fear that our own choice ends up being the wrong one. I really think that we need to stop worrying about whether moms "should" work or stay at home and start making sure that all women can have the support they need for their choices.
      Thank you for your comment. I hope you're able to have empathy for those who've hurt your feelings on this issue, as like I said is says more about their fears than about your choices. I also hope you know there's whole segments of society who don't think poorly of stay at home moms ;)

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  12. Just wanted to state a resounding WORD to everything you said! I feel badly I can't leave a better comment on such a thoughtful and beautifully articulated post, but it's way too late for me here on the east coat. Some other good reads I recommend are anything by s.e. smith - http://meloukhia.net/ & make/shift magazine - http://makeshiftmag.com/.

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    1. Thank you, m'dear. What kind words. And hey, I totally get you. When your bed calls you gotta follow. I'm excited to explore this link. New reads are always so inspiring.

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  13. I read this post right after I saw a commercial for the upcoming Olympics where women are now going to be "allowed" to participate in ski-jumping, a sport they were apparently kept out of previously because it was thought that the sport would interfere with their reproductive abilities--ie, "mess up their uteruses" (SF Gate Jan 9, 2014). The president of the International Ski Federation (a man) said as much in 2005. 2005! It might as well be the 1800s!

    At the same time, reproductive rights for women are being rolled back in this country.

    The notion that women are still children and can't make decisions about their own bodies is apparently still prevalent. You can even see it in the world of high fashion---ultra skinny, pre-pubescent body types and childlike features dominate.

    So, while many gains have been made, there is still a deep-seated cultural bias that refuses to be dislodged.







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    1. Yet we do nothing about the fact that we know Football causes devastating brain damage. I guess those men's brains are worth less than those women's reproductive organs. I have so much to say about sports in general, but yeah, the paternalistic bs that goes on with our bodies in this day and age. Whenever one reads something like that it's like "Didn't we figure this shit out already?!?! Can't we move onto something more exciting please?!?!" Sigh. Thank you for. reading, commenting and being outraged. That's what we need. More outrage.

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  14. longest post evarrrr! but wonderful.

    i personally think that the "feminism" debate has turned into an issue of semantics, and that feminism is actually a dated term. i think we need a new term, as "feminism" seems expired, to me. it has a heavy historical context and definition, and, like you argue, its meaning keeps changing.

    additionally, and one thing you don't necessarily go into, is being realistic about feminism in a patriarchal society. as long as we live in a patriarchy, "feminism" can only go so far. there is only a specific distance it can carry us within this context. just like other forms of activism in a capitalist culture. there is a threshold that certain things, no matter how radical, will not pass.

    the topic of matriarchy is rarely discussed and the term itself has nearly been obliterated from literature and history books. to me, real women's rights are the right to have enough energy and time to love and care for our children and ourselves. if we all had the means to be truly comfortable (not worried about $, etc) and could focus on creating food and children, the world would probably be remarkably peaceful and perfect. but this is a very deep rabbit hole and i will end here. <3

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    1. Thanks for sticking with it and thanks for commenting dear. It's always nice to hear that your hard work might just be a little wonderful and you know your opinion is highly regarded around here ;)

      Which brings me to the concept of "feminism" as word. Now, recently, there was a bit of a shit-storm in feminist media, because the noted feminist, director and writer Joss Whedon gave a talk explaining why he doesn't like the word. It's an awesome talk. Check it out here if you get the chance.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDmzlKHuuoI

      While I agree that the word may have outlived its usefulness I will also argue (and I feel like a big part of the point of this post) is that until we come up with ANOTHER BETTER word, I think it is still important that women (and lovely men like Mr. Whedon) continue to identify as feminist, in solidarity with other people who believe in that which feminism espouses. The moment a better word evolves we will be ready to grab it, but in the meantime, let's not throw the babe out with the bathwater. Identifying is unifying. I had a whole piece I cut out (in fact I had enough stuff cut out that it would make a whole other, totally incoherent post ;) about how I know a lot of folks don't like "boxes", but I find them to be useful in identifying who we are and what we're talking about.

      And like Mr. Whedon talks about, words are important, seems like you and I agree and that, however, for me, that's part of why I don't really use the word matriarchy, especially in the idea of something to replace the patriarchy with. It's not because I don't believe that matriarchy might create a more balanced, beautiful, peaceful world, it's that I don't really know, and I would argue none of us really know what a matriarchy would look like. Of course I would love to see one in action, would love read all of the obliterated materials and understand how the dominance of the patriarchy came about exactly, but as it stands, it's not what I want to be moving towards. There's also a lot (at least in the circles I run in) utopian thought attached to it, and honestly a lot of what could be white people misinterpreting the complex social structures of other societies. And frankly I'm just uncomfortable with the duality these words represent.

      This is word thing again, eh? I just want to believe that we can build a society that appreciates the masculine and the feminine and everything that falls in between in balance.

      Like you say and like we discussed above, there's a lot of history about women's roles in society that has been lost and we may never find exactly how we got here. It maddening and saddening to be able to only look through such a narrow pathway, yet it's heartening that so many women feel like the tide is about to turn.

      Thank you for your thoughts and view-points, they're refreshing and magical. I look forward to having this discussion in person someday soon <3

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    2. Holy shit with my epic comments in trying to stretch my break from work ;)

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    3. dude! i just came back here and i cannot BELIEVE what a wonderfully devoted blogger woman you are. responding to each of these readers in the way that you do is an incredible gift to anyone.

      yes, we could go on and on about semantics. i wouldn't argue for matriarchy over patriarchy, i just wanted to point out the feminism, even radical feminism, can only go so far within a patriarchal structure. i got down and dirty with matriarchy in my college studies (did you know that slaves in america lived in a matriarchy, within our patriarchy? not by choice, of course, but the structure ended up being that way) and so i have a special fondness for the topic.

      anyway, way to go on this epic post and your devoted replies. XO

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  15. Milla, thanks for explaining the whole situation (and your feelings) in such an articulate and convincing way! I have always felt that feminism, as a struggle for equal rights and consideration for all people, men and women, children and the elderly, in all societies, still has (obviously) a long way to go...

    Here in Canada things are much easier for (most) women than in France, including something as basic as walking in the street without any form of harassment from men. But I can't forget that in many homes, women are being beaten regularly - everywhere. And that in most countries, in a majority of cultures, women have very limited or no control over their fate, their life, and their body.

    So I have this deep feeling that it is our responsibility, men and women of the "civilized" world, to keep raising awareness that we are Different but All Equal. Period.

    Yet, as you point out, this means that we must unite our different sensitivities (masculine and feminine) within ourselves, then within our own society, to actually help spreading a true equality.

    If women don't need to behave like men to make their ideas happen, then these ideas will have a better chance of bettering society - indeed ! - and I also believe that if men are no longer afraid of the feminine side of their personality (i.e. intuition, empathy, gentleness) they will be able to let this much needed current strengthen the world from the inside, instead of everybody clinging to a hollow, war-inducing, competition-based situation.

    Do you see what I mean?

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    1. In other words, I think that everyone, regardless of gender, has masculine and feminine aspects in their personality.

      The masculine one is (for instance) the part of us that allows us to put our thoughts into action, to stand up for ourselves, and I to see things in a rational way, which is often pretty useful. It has its negative points in the way that it can lead to a need to dominate other people, and to over-analyze things in a way that distances ourselves from them.

      The feminine part (again, in men and women) is the one that makes us aware of the needs of others, it is the intuitive, nourishing and creative part of us that is deeply rooted in both Nature and the human psyche. In a negative way, it can lead us to yield to other people's need or will, to dream a lot and not make our ideas happen.

      So obviously, a healthy, harmonious, progressive society needs a good balance between these two aspects, in its structure as well as in every man and women. The problem is, most cultures have labelled the feminine aspects as "weakness", and enhanced the masculine qualities as the ruling ones (for obvious reasons). So a lot of feminists started with reclaiming the masculine part of their personalities, which allowed them to stand up for themselves (and often for equal rights in general), but this also led, as you remarked, to identifying themselves (and their movement) with these masculine values.

      Since we are now at a point where the privileges thus conquered can allow us to participate in society's evolution, we should promote instead more harmony and understanding, not only between men and women, but between both the masculine and feminine aspects in each one of us, in all genders and all parts of society - in every culture.

      :o)

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  16. oh mä kirjoitin superpitkän tekstin ja sitten se vaan katosi,mutta koetampa kohta uudestaan:)

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  17. siis: Minun äidin äitini syntynyt 1900 oli sisarusparvestaan ainoa,joka oli varaa kouluttaa,hänestä tulikin ihan arvostettu opettaja ja Saksan kielen lehtori ja hän pystyi myöhemmin tarjoamaan omille tyttärilleen paitsi koulutuksen,niis jopa näyttämään jonkinverran maailmaa Suomen ulkopuolella. Hänen tyttärensä kaikki kolme minun äitini heistä nuorin opiskelivat aikanaan kaikki lääkäreiksi ja toimivat,niin Suomesa,kuin ulkomaillakin niin lääkäreinä,kuin tutkijoinakin.Heillä on useampia lapsia kaikilla.
    Oma isäni kuoli,kun olin 5 vuotias ja äitimme tehdessä kansainvälistä mielenkiintoista ja hyvin tärkeää työtä,me kasvoimme siskoni kanssa aika itsenäisiksi ja itsepäisiksi näiden suvun vahvojen naisten lähellä.
    Minulta ei siis todentotta puutu naisroolimalleja. Itse kuitenkin koen haluavani pientä "taantumaa" ja tällä hetkellä haluan olla omien tyttöjeni kanssa mahdollisimman paljon kotona.
    ymmärtänet siis,että välillä tunnen hieman alemmuutta ja huonopa omaa tuntoa ollessani kotona,enkä ole tekemässä toisella kädellä Nobel tasoista tutkimustyötä ja toisella kädellä ohjaa ominkäsin veistämääni purjevenettä,jolla toki olen jo tehnyt yksin purjehduksen maailman ympäri,ennenkuin nyt toisella kädelläni hoidan 5 lapsista perhettäni;-P

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    1. Ihana sukutarina! Minusta siina ei ole mitaan "taatumaa" etta haluaa olla himassa. Siihen taa musta just perustuu etta kukin, miehet, naiset ja muut tehdaan mita itte halutaan, oikeista lahtokohdista ja lapikotaisin mietitysti, tai sit tietty pelkilla intuitioilla. Tosi paljon musta ainakin tuntuu etta suomessa just taa koiaitiys-aalto johtuu siita etta meidan sukupolven omat aidit paahtoivat toissa eivatka tosiaankaan kaikki tulleet autuaiksi silla. Ja mita tulee alemmuudentuntoihin omista tekemisista niin jos ei lasten kasvatus hitto viekoon ole kutsumusammatti niin en tieda mika on. Ainakin mina arvosta kovasti. Rauhaa ja rakkautta sinne talviseen Suomeen.

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  18. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post.
    It left me feeling inspired, challenged...empowered.

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    1. Awesome! That is high complements! Thank you for your comment and readership.

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  19. great post. i would say it was just what i needed today, only i think we always need to be reminded of this stuff. and it helps to be reminded in an empowering way like this. and it's a relief to hear you address the fact that sometimes men don't get it right away and that's not totally excused but also not the end of the world. anyway, thank you.

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    1. I'm so glad i was able to remind you ;) I feel like we need to have a certain amount of empathy towards men and women who don't get it right away. Most people come from a really good place and are open to discussion. For myself it really does behove me to remember that too at times. Thank you for your thoughts and your comment!

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  20. Oh, Milla. I am always thrilled to see a new post of yours pop up in my reader. And I've finally realized that I must set aside a time that allows for reading and commenting- I never seem to make it back to join the discussion.

    HELLO, radical feminist here. Right now I'm struggling so much with finding my words instead of my anger. It seems a common thing for everyone around me to make claims that I hold the status of "not working". "Working" mothers at Gus's school offer to let me teach their child piano lessons so that I may have a project (direct quote!). A father from Gus's school just two days ago complained to me that the half days at Gus's school were such a nice respite for a stay at home mother such as myself but for working parents it was just very difficult. Family is constantly sending me pictures of things I could make and sell online, or links to scams where I could make 8k a month from home, etc., etc. As if I don't have projects, as if I don't also need time, as if I am not an essential part of our farm being successful. While the husband is at work who might they think is the sole farmer in charge? And who saves the family money by baking the bread or doing the garden planning or any number of things? My rhythm is certainly slower in the winter but during market months I work far in excess of a simple 40 hours a week. Not working? Who??

    The way I see it is that we all make sacrifices around here. Craig works a job that is undeniably better than jobs past but it still is a J O B off the farm that takes him away from our shared goal of farming at home 100% together. That is his sacrifice. Mine? It's that I manage most of the housework that no one wants to do. And part of my ability to do that comes from knowing that if I were able to pull in a higher dollar per hour out of the house, Craig would be home with the laundry and the tidying and the animals no questions, no complaints. And yes- some would argue my staying at home simply because I can't make as much as Craig is giving in but really that's not the specific fight I wish to fight for MY life. I want to fight for my family's ability to be together, to sustain together. The quickest route has me at home, Craig at work. End side rant..

    Back to the real focus of this comment- I find it so hard to stand up for myself in the above mentioned situations. I find that the offender is generally musing on something in their own experience and slights me in the process. When Gus first started school his transition was difficult so I started taking handwork in the mornings to do in the living room while the children eased into their day. I felt I was doing something of value and so I put off pressing farm work. Another mother whose child was having similar struggles said to me completely unprovoked, "Oh, it's so great that you're able to stay here but I just don't have the time. I have to work." Really and truly I know the comment fell out of her mouth thanks to her own guilt (she does freelance work and had the flexibility to stay if she were to choose that) but regardless, it devalued me and my work.

    Again and again I find myself in these places and I'm finding I can't stand up for myself or my work or my life without coming across as defensive or sensitive. But maybe I would rather be sensitive and defensive than belittled? What a thing to work one's ass off and be labeled a person without a job.

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    1. Julie, you have a JOB obviously! :-)
      The farm (big one this one!), the home, the kids.
      I live in the big city (Milan, land of overwork and power suits) with my man, no kids yet amd work 10 jours daily and many weekends in publishing. I choose to refuse to do a lot of housework: I and him split the basics. Because I know that housework is a whole other, very real, job. How much would I spend if I had to pay a cleaning lady, home manager etc? I don't fall for the trap, either, of becoming a slave and cleaning as a madwoman renouncing at what little free time I have (you can imagine what that looks like in my and his mother's opionion!). Maybe you could remember to whomever thinks you're not working that indeed you are, a lot! It's irritating but I feel it's your mission. many hugs
      Anto

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    2. Julie, ditto. You're one of my favorite reads. So much so, that when your posts show up, I make myself a cup of tea first then retreat into your world.

      Now, first I would just like to echo Antonella and say WTF people, being a stay-at-home farming mom/ homemaker is a full-time job. One where, regardless of love and gratitude from family, one's work can easily be taken granted, not the least of all by one self, but also friends, acquaintances, family, people who barely know you. However, I think you have squarely hit it on the nail; these people speak not of you, they speak of themselves. They speak to their dream of a more free-flowing (in their mind) life, they speak to, like you said, their guilt, they speak to their own insecurities about their choices and sometimes, frankly, they speak to their close-mindedness and judgements.

      I encounter this a lot around being child-free when people with kids talk to me (or more around me) about children and sometimes it's really hard to not take offense, even though I know that most of the time (though definitely not always) they are just expressing their own emotions and views and like you said, not actually trying to slight me. I believe that's called being insensitive. And while it sucks to have to continuously take the high road, I would say that I'd pick whom I would try to educate about this, simply because it's enough that you do this work, you don't have explain it to every mom at playgroup, they are hopefully learning by example (and osmosis;) and that's actually sometimes where those comments come from.

      Now, when it comes to family though, I would definitely try to explain where you stand exactly, because those are people who's opinions actually matter and who's comments actually cut deep. Also, they are good trial ground for trying to stand up for yourself. Frankly, I find that repeating my position over and over works well.

      When people say demeaning things about who we are, it's hard to be able to come back in a way that's not defensive, but honest. I would actually honestly come up with things to say that are true, like "Yeah, it's nice to be able to do all the farm chores without having to worry about bringing him with me in the weather." and "I do feel lucky I was able to organize my schedule to be here for him, even with this or that going on on the farm." You know, to subtly help the person realize that you don't just loaf around and eat bonbons. The deeper societal problem of dynamic productivity being one of the main ways we measure person's value is a harder one. So what if one is a stay-at-home-parent, farm or no farm. Heck, I'm a (part-time) homemaker and I don't even have kids. Does that make me lazy? Maybe, but I'm happier this way and we're happier this way as a family than we would be with TV dinners and more dollars.

      I don't know. It takes a lot to change people's attitudes, however, I look up to you and the work you do and so do many many other folks. So listen to us and remember us next time someone else's emotions get in the way of their kindness and good judgement.

      Hug! And thank you, always, for taking time to visit.

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  21. WOW, milla, such a wonderful and fulfilling post to read and the comments are amazing! you create the best space for discourse.

    and yes, i definitely consider myself a radical feminist! at this point in my life, that's mostly because i WANT to be a homemaker and mother and i give myself the freedom to do so; i demand (at least internally) freedom from judgement and support for this desire in myself/ i expect support for my own personal feminism and extend it to all others, and in a society like ours such is a radical notion. i found the comment about the enshrinement of the matriarch so interesting, as a new mother, who also happens to be educated and jobless, i see that so called enshrinement as a completely superficial upholding at best. we certainly do not have any practical support here in the US for those of us who choose not to be part of the "workforce" and rather to stay home and care for children, an act which is economically, politically and socially vital for the future. along those lines, i also loved sadie's comment, as well as the fascinating challenges put forth by julie, above. motherhood sure aint what it used to be, which creates more of a conundrum than ever, in that we live in a society that now expects so much from women, bringing us right back to charlie's problematic yet thought-provoking comment!

    i am nursing a baby while i type (how apropos) so i will leave it at that although there is so much i would like to say and i wish you, me, and each of your commenters could sit in a circle (preferably in 70s cords, big glasses, and handmade signs and herbal tea) (and your mom should definitely be there too) and discuss this vital topic in real life!!!

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    1. Oh man, I so wish we could sit in that circle, it would be the most amazing womyn group ever!!!



      I think that the comment about the enshrinement was meant as a comment on feminist thought, not the whole society. There's definitely no enshrinement of women in this society except in really extreme terms, that don't hold up to scrutiny. I see the same issues as its author in that the ideas put forth by the words "feminine" and "matriarchy", do in fact re-enforce our existing notions of what femininity and masculinity are, and also what their worth is/ should be. Like I say above, I'm simply not sure that we need to be working towards replacing a very apparent patriarchy with a very ephemeral/ dreamy/ idealized matriarchy. Which brings of course us to Sadie's statement about discomfort around the term. Part of this magical circle is that we are creating and working around LANGUAGE. It's the hardest. But we're doing a good job of trying to really understand what the others are trying to say. Kudos to us.
      LOVE YOU SISTAH!

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  22. if you are looking for a film project, this, the evolution of feminism, would make an incredible documentary!

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    1. If only I had the skills required...I do hope someone somewhere does.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  23. Wow OK I had this really long comment typed out ready to send and then my daughter brushed the keyboard while nursing and POOF! it was gone. Let me try to remember it ...
    I grew up in a household where my mom worked 50+ hours a week and my dad stayed home. She was also in charge of the money and most of the decisions. My husband grew up with the opposite. His mom stayed at home with them and his dad worked. When we first met, we had a similar discussion on gender roles. I never considered having children until I met him but then it hit me hard. I told him (and this was before we ever got pregnant) I'd be content being a stay at home mom. He kind of laughed it off like I wasn't being serious but deep down I was. He felt that we should be equal in that I could put in the same hours at work as he does.

    Well I have found over the years, especially now that we have a child, that I end up taking on way more of the workload. Try as we might to be equal, I do a lot of the household duties on top of working. This does not feel liberating for me, it feels confining. I think, for me personally, radical feminism is about choice. Being a stay at home mom would free me up to spend my day doing what I love. That's not to say that it is for everybody nor is it the "right" way. There isn't a right way , just what works for the individual. I would love to discuss this further as I have many ideas about it. I agree with Heather, we should all sit in a circle with cords and tea! :)

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    1. Talk about being a woman trying express her thoughts ;) Thanks for coming back and writing more even after such a happening. I think that this confining, feeling cornered into a more domestic role is very common for many working women, as is the resentment over it at times, and even the practicality of us doing that work. In fact, I didn't really get into the Radical Homemaking stuff here hardly at all, but while (even though I work) my husband is the main breadwinner in our household and I REALLY ENJOY DOING THE HOMEMAKING STUFF, I don't like to be expected to do those things. Just as you say, it's about choice. It's also, interestingly about interesectionality and wider societal malaise. Going back to the "both people have to work to sustain a family"-argument, the truth in that is our society does not value the work that homemakers (men or women!) do. But heck, our society doesn't value ordinary working people enough for them to make a living wage, so that they don't have to spend their precious free time arguing over who should do more chores. Again this goes back to the whole a little change is the start of a lot of change idea. If women like us decide that feminism is about changing our lot in life and changing the way the world perceives and our "place" in it, it'll bring about a lot of societal change.

      There's definitely no right way and YES let's talk about it some more. Thank you for your thoughts as always <3

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  24. Thank you for this. I definitely had preconceived notions of what radical feminism is. I called myself a feminist, but would not have embraced "radical" - but I guess I am.

    I would really love to learn how to explain concepts like this and racism to my husband. I have stopped trying because every time I would get so frustrated!

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    1. Thank you for reading it and for being ready to do so regardless of preconceived notions! You're awesome! I hate to say this, but I've totally drilled C on the whole feminism thing. I mean, I think I start out explaining things from my perspective, but then whenever the topic comes up I ask questions. (Why do you think that is? Who do you say that?) We're pretty much in agreement about those two topics, but we'll occasionally still get into a scrap about them. Sometimes he's in the wrong sometimes I am. The important thing is to keep talking. Oh and watching movies does too. When talking about my experience in film I actually really think showing "Miss Representation" helps my case, for instance ;D Keep on talking, don't give up.

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  25. After reading your blog post I am inspired with the writing and looking forward to write a blog on the same including my view points. I will share my writing content soon! About this blog post, very informative and inspiring as well. Good Job! Marriage garden in Indore

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  26. "Working moms vs. stay-at-home". I will be fainting with delight the day I start to see "work-for-pay" and "working-in-home" in discussions like these. All mothers work.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. You make a good point, although I'm less-than-enthused by your delivery. Naturally I agree that words are important and should be carefully chosen, but as I state in my disclaimer, I am by no means an expert, or a scholar and am simply trying to discuss things I care about with others. I come from a culture where mothers do actually get paid (though not nearly enough) for working in home and caring for their children and not being a mother I am not as in tune with what the implications of these terms may be. However, I will make note of this for future reference. And I also will assume that your irate tone is due to the simple complications of life, that we all sometimes suffer from, and which make it easy for us to perceive slights at the things we care deeply about, when none were made, at least not on purpose. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

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  27. I am new to your blog and so am just catching up on back posts. In regards to everything you've written here I just want to say YES, YES, YES. Really WELL SAID. I'm printing it out for future reference. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and life.
    Sincerely (from New Hampshire)
    Dana

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