a female rant followup.

I’m completely amazed at how people responded to my previous post. I almost didn’t publish it – I was worried it was “too much.” I’ve been burned many times when bringing up such a subject and I didn’t want to get burned again. That’s why I disabled comments.

I wrote most of the post in November after getting my car’s oil changed. As I sat in the waiting area at the auto store I flipped through the magazines that were spread out on a table. A celebrity gossip magazine showed pictures of a famous female with an eating disorder. A fashion magazine told me how to make myself beautiful. TIME magazine had this for a cover:

I read the inside article that began with this description:

The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband’s house. They dragged her to a mountain clearing near her village in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, ignoring her protests that her in-laws had been abusive, that she had no choice but to escape. Shivering in the cold air and blinded by the flashlights trained on her by her husband’s family, she faced her spouse and accuser. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Later, he would tell Aisha’s uncle that she had to be made an example of lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing. The commander gave his verdict, and men moved in to deliver the punishment. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose. Aisha passed out from the pain but awoke soon after, choking on her own blood. The men had left her on the mountainside to die.

(Read more here.)

Between the eating disorder and the beauty tips and this horrific story I found my inner feminist flaring up. And then the auto mechanic beckoned me over to talk to him. He told me about all these things that were wrong with my car (of course), which confused me because the last time I had my oil changed everything was fine. I knew that if a guy were with me there would be less likelihood of an auto mechanic lying to me. I made a mental note to learn as much about cars as I can.

I went back to my friend’s apartment where I was staying the night and I started typing up my rant.

I haven’t always been a feminist. Quite the contrary, actually. In college I called myself an anti-feminist. I didn’t exactly know what the word “feminist” meant…aren’t they short-haired lesbians who hate anything with a penis? I just knew I didn’t think women were as capable as men. My view came from the atmosphere that surrounded me, from the messages that society instilled in me at a young age.

All I ever heard was that women are weaker (physically and emotionally) than men. Women are gullible and less intelligent. I was at church camp when I heard someone say that a woman should never be president because how could she manage a country when she was on her period? I took that opinion to heart and made it my own.

And sure, some women had careers, but I was given a clear impression that a woman’s role is to cater to men, to be at home cooking and cleaning for them and to have sex with them whenever they want. Oh and affairs and sexual promiscuity are always our fault because we are temptresses. But if we withhold sex we are uptight and will end up lonely librarians.

So I didn’t have the best view of women. I would make sexist jokes and like I said, I truly believed that women were unintelligent, overemotional and horrible drivers because that’s all I had ever heard.

Then the spring of 2008 happened. It was my last semester in college and I took the following classes:

1) Race, Class and Gender
2) Women’s Role: Global Perspective
3) The Philosophy of Love, Sex and Marriage

The only reason I took the first two classes was to fulfill some kind of requirement; the last one I took by choice. As the months crept by and my professors presented the material, assigned readings and facilitated class discussion I found myself …what’s the word? Learning. I learned what the word “feminist” actually means. I learned that women in fact are not less valuable than men and I learned about all the ways women are oppressed.

I became enlightened and I became angry.

I was an angry feminist. No, I didn’t hate men. I hated how women were treated. I hated sexist jokes (the very ones I used to make.) I hated that people Christians told me I couldn’t do something because I was a woman – that alone was their reason. It didn’t matter if I was capable or gifted in the area – I am a woman and God made me different so I am not allowed to do the same thing as a man in the church. I could teach women and children but never men. They would use the Bible to prove their point. Suddenly I didn’t like the Bible anymore.

I had only recently come back to faith in Jesus and now I was presented with this dilemma. I didn’t want to be a part of Christianity if it only acted as yet another means to smother me because of my gender.

It’s been a long journey since then. And I don’t really want to get into all the scripture references and interpretations, but I have come to an understanding of the way Jesus views and treats women and I believe he has set a clear trajectory that we should follow.

The day I wrote about my Teach for America rejection is the day I received the most views on my blog. The stats stare me in the face every time I visit my blog site: “X views on your busiest day, November 10, 2010.” I wondered if and when I would write a blog that would trump that day. To me, a new most-viewed post would act as a bit of redemption from that sad day in my life. I didn’t know if it would ever really happen though.

Well, it happened. My blog now reads: “X views on your busiest day, January 6, 2011.” And I’ll be fine if it stays like that forever. I’m happy to know that people have read something that is so near and dear to my heart and I hope they will do something proactive about it.

Being proactive doesn’t necessarily mean saving all the used and abused women in the world – it can be as simple as not tolerating sexist jokes. And trust me, that’s not really a simple feat. Sexist jokes are made ALL THE TIME – in the media and in real life. People tend to say they’re “kidding” and that it’s funny because such jokes are ridiculous. To this I say: I’ve heard those very ideas of women all my life – and by you joking about it (even if you say you don’t mean it) you are only perpetuating the cycle.

Well, I could go on and on and on about all this. But I’ll stop myself here. Thanks for reading and reposting my female rant. My hope is that one day all humans will be valued equally. That day may not come until heaven crashes into Earth…in the meantime I’m going to try my best to make it happen a little faster. “Let your kingdom come, let your will be done – on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Amen.

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About Hope Naomi

Lover of all things tea and travel.
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5 Responses to a female rant followup.

  1. Liz says:

    I would be curious to know your definition of feminist. Because I think what it means in our culture is pretty different from what you mean when you say it. (ie Most everything I’ve read would definitely always equate feminist and being pro-abortion. I would therefore say I am pro-women, but definitely not a feminist)

  2. Anna says:

    Hi Liz, that’s a very interesting point you brought up, and I was looking to see your thoughts on the following response:

    “Simply, feminists must be pro-choice.

    I get to this position through thinking about what the basic premise of feminism is. Very simply, it is that women are autonomous adults, capable of making decisions for themselves, of being rational and competent, of conceiving of a vision of the good life, and making choices in order to achieve that vision of the good life.

    Or to put it in Stef’s fine words – being a feminist means that you are free to fuck up. Your life, your decisions, your responsibility. Just because you are an autonomous adult.

    Abortion is a big moral issue. And make no mistake about it – it is a moral issue. It is an issue where people are asked to think about who and what counts, about where life begins, about the significance of lives that are already being lived and lives that may or may not be lived, about who bears the costs of prohibition. It is an issue that is jam packed with moments of judgement.

    If you deny a woman the right to make those decisions for herself, then you are denying her autonomy. You are saying that she is not capable of making moral judgements herself, that she is not, after all, an autonomous adult. She is a child, and you must make moral judgements for her. That is not feminist, at all.”

    From the blog:
    http://inastrangeland.wordpress.com/about/

    🙂

  3. Courtney says:

    To me, being a feminist is all about respect; respecting women as much as men are respected, and vice versa. Some feminists seem to view it as a zero-sum game; to grant respect and opportunity to women, respect and opportunity must be rescinded from men.

    @Anna, my response to that argument is that we make moral judgments for each other all the time. We’ve decide, collectively, that certain actions people take infringe on the well-being or freedom of other people, and so we create laws and consequences to define and discourage those actions. That doesn’t count as treating people “like children”. Those collective decisions are not always right, as in cases where they cause the oppression of groups of people (separate-but-equal comes to mind), but if a law brings us all closer to “life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness”, it’s a good one. Where people differ on the abortion issue is whether the unborn child inside the woman counts as an individual person being infringed on, or whether the woman’s freedom to terminate that life supercedes the freedom of the child to exist. I would argue that the father’s well-being and freedom to be a father is important too, considering that the child, though it happens to be inside the mother’s body, is as much his as it is hers. But fathers’ rights tend to be pushed aside when pro-choicers make their arguments. I don’t like arguing abortion issues. I get pegged as anti-feminist for even considering this point of view.

    I joined a group of about 100 feminists on Facebook, all women; someone accidentally invited a male friend, who commented on an issue. Not only was he derided for joining the group, but most of the members asserted that his opinion should be dismissed, since he’s not female. Now, I do understand having discussion groups that consist of women, given that it may generate unique discussion compared to a co-ed group. But really? Does this mean we can’t have opinions on the rights of children, or animals, or prisoners, or oppressed people in other countries, because we don’t belong to those groups? I thought it was atrocious. We need the support and ideas of men. We need the support and ideas of everyone. What is our ultimate goal here? Is it to dominate and undermine the role of men, just as has been done to women for so long? Or is it to create an environment where everyone can reach his or her full potential, and society as a whole benefits from peaceful cooperation? I’d prefer the latter, thanks.

  4. This is so true Hope, your words empower women and not to be cheesy but the life you live gives them hope. Don’t ever give up.

    The more I learn the more frustrated I am with injustice and disempowerment. Especially in the church. I’ve definitely spoken way too many sexist jokes and propogated lies in pursuit of masculinity only to learn that I had no idea. God bless you hope.

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