thoughts about feminism

http://sites.middlebury.edu/middmag/2012/03/15/gender-violence/

“‘[Gender violence issues] affect women at every level, but I am here to say that the very fact of just calling these issues ‘women’s issues’ is in itself part of the problem.'”

I have been unhappy with the word “feminism” for as long as I have known there was a gender-caused imbalance in the world. In my mind it makes issues related to gender only the problem of women. And men are as constrained by gender stereotypes as women. It usually (often? sometimes?) expressed differently, though.

It is expected that women will be raped and the victims of domestic violence. Men who are raped or beaten by a domestic partner become feminized by the very fact of having the act perpetrated on them. And “feminized” means weakened. Particularly in this context. So, they may be less likely to do something about it. You know, something like report it and get it prosecuted.

Parents doing childcare is a whole other bag of worms. Women are asked if they intend to come back to work after giving birth. Staying home to tend to children is a valid option for us (as a group, not necessarily individually.) Men who choose to be the one giving up a paycheck to do the homefront heavy lifting are often (usually?) required to justify it. Men who actually participate in parenting are praised, as though that isn’t something that should be expected. Who would say to a woman “Aren’t you a good mom bringing the kids to the playground?” Or to a man “Does your wife help with the kids?”

That’s not fair to anybody. Everyone should be allowed to care for their family, Everyone should be allowed to feel safe and to speak up if they aren’t. And language matters.

Racist, homophobic and sexist language is hurtful. Reducing someone to a body part is hurtful. Words like Nigger and Bitch and Dick are slap-in-the-face verbal violence. They all say very clearly “You are less than human. You are a lesser creature than me.” Those are obvious and easy to call out. There are more subtle microaggressions in our language that need consideration and adjustment, too.

I am a gender communist. From each according to their abilities to each accord to their needs. This, until a better word is devised, is what a feminist looks like.

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