Why We Need Feminism. Still.
June 23, 2014 § 5 Comments
I am blessed with three insanely wonderful, talented, beautiful nieces, they are really amazing, and I don’t get to spend enough time with them. The oldest of the three, Haley, is in a rock band in Norway, Slutface. The band just released a new single, “Angst,” which, aside from being catchy as all get out, struck me for its lyrical content. Haley sings about female objectification, dumb boys, and misogyny. It kind of took me by surprise, because you don’t really hear lyrical content of this sort in pop music today. Listening to the song, I thought back to a recent exchange I had on Twitter. I posted something hashtagged #yesallwomen, and a troll responded that it was campaigns and hashtags like this that led to women being sexually assaulted and raped. Yes, seriously. In his delusional little world, rape and sexual assault didn’t happen until social media appeared on the scene. He was, as you would imagine, hyper-aggressive about making his point, too.
When this current trend of feminist hashtags and campaigns on Twitter and social media exploded last year, I was kind of surprised. I came across the account @everydaysexism and was gobsmacked. Women were documenting their experiences of being catcalled and harassed walking down the street. I was shocked. I though this kind of shit ended thirty years ago. I asked the women in my life, and they confirmed that this was indeed their daily experience. It angered me.
Back in the day, every woman I knew had been raped or sexually assaulted, so perhaps I should not have been surprised. “The day” was the early 1990s. But I seriously thought things had got better since then. I’m not sure why I thought this. I am a professor, everyday in the hallways, across campus, and even in my classroom, I see examples of sexism and outright misogyny. Almost all advertising is based on the objectification of women to sell everything from cars to beer to razor blades to men. In the post-Britney Spears, “post-feminist” world, this kind of objectification has become part of the day-to-day. And for many of my female students, the very word “feminism” is a bad one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a student say, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then go on to make a very basic feminist point.
That depresses me. As does this picture. We ALL need feminism, for the reasons outlined above, and for the reasons this woman points out in the picture.
Sexism and misogyny isn’t funny. Women don’t need to learn how to “take a joke” when men say stupid shit to them. Men need to stop being pigs. It’s that simple.
That picture says it all. It’s terrible in India. Girls are afraid to travel by bus as groping is commonplace. Recently gang rapes have been a lot in the news, with one callous politician even dismissively telling the Press “Boys will be boys”. We’re definitely going wrong in how we raise our boys, I think. And I’ve always felt the advertising industry contributes substantially to this, along with movies and TV shows, at least in India.
I see the news from India and I’m usually gobsmacked. It’s not quite like that here, but I think we’ve done something wrong with our boys in North America too. I walked past a couple of 10 year old boys a few months ago in downtown Boston, they were gawking at a young woman, and one said “I’d hold that down and rape the shit out of it.” Seriously. Something is very, very wrong in this world when that’s considered acceptable.
[…] response to my previous posting on why we need feminism, I got trolled on Twitter, by men, telling me that women bring on rape, sexual assault, and other […]