Monday, October 30, 2006

I Read Too Much Feministe

When you enter the Blogosphere, you start reading other people's blogs. Because I've been referencing this blog when I meet new people, I go and read their blogs, too. By virtue of chance, many of the women I've met recently read blogs like Feministe and Feministing. I've been enjoying them--I forgot how much fun it is to discuss feminism with people not my friends. (The arguments get familiar and dull, sadly. No offense to my friends, it's just boring to have a discussion with someone when you know which direction it will go...)

Because I've had my Feminist Hat on a lot more lately, I've been seeing the world with that viewpoint again in a way I haven't in a while. Maybe it's cos it's an election year? Maybe it's cos I've been hanging out with a lot of right-wingers and Libertarians? Eh, who knows?

To side track for a second...

Yes, I actually did just say I've been hanging out with right-wingers and Libertarians. I am a Libertarian.

Ooh, it's liberating say that! (hee.)

My boyfriend and I have a running joke, in which we hop up and down shaking our hands like Homer Simpson, and act terrified about "The patriarchy! Oooh! The patriarchy!!!"

I firmly believe it is possible to be a feminist and be able to mock "womyn."

Maybe I'm not so much a feminist as an egalitarian, but then, I never said I was normal.

Ever since I expressed an interest in joining the marketing/publishing/entertainment industry, my father has very kindly set aside the issue of AdWeek he gets through his office and passes it along to me. In a recent issue, there was an ad for Jane Magazine that surprised me. I will try and scan it to share with the class. For now, a description will have to suffice.

It is a two-page spread. Three-quarters of the spread is a closeup of a woman's face, so close, in fact, you can't see her hair. She is looking squarely at the camera.

The other quarter of the page, the quarter on the left, is a bright green field, with text half in the green field, and half on the woman's right cheek. The text on the green field says "She's marched for women's rights." The text on the woman's face says, "She's cried her way out of a speeding ticket."

I couldn't quite name the emotion this ad evoked in me. The closest I can come up with is "Impressed Revulsion."

I am impressed because that ad eloquently describes many women, especially Jane readers. I am revolted because as convenient as it may be to cry one's way out of a speeding ticket, that's a flavor of gender-preferential treatment I can't really cotton to.

Let's face it: I'm a petite, slim, attractive woman. I like makeup and skirts, and all the sorts of "patriarchal" trappings that have caused kilobytes of wank all over the internet recently. (Not to ignore that it's an old argument-it's just cropped up again recently. Repeatedly.) If I wanted to cry my way out of a ticket, I could probably do it easily--I cry easily when I get an adrenaline overload, which I'm sure a speeding ticket would do to me.

But would I do it? Would I? Hell no.

I'd curse and cry and scream after the cop went back to the car and drove away. I'd be really annoyed at the amount of money I'd have to throw into that municipality's local government. But I certainly wouldn't use my gender to dodge a ticket. That's pretty repugnant.

I guess what it comes down to is the following sentence:

How can we claim we want equal treatment if we're still willing to use our gender to play on a man's sympathies?

Somewhere between being an actual, literal, "tool of the patriarchy" (I acknowledge they exist, even if I don't have an active fear of them), and being a radical womynist, there has to be a nice middle ground.

While I know that was what the designers of that Jane ad were going for, I don't think they quite hit the mark. Instead, they showed us how "so close" can still be "too far."


Canadibrit said...

I might remind, however, that men do it too. No, maybe they don't cry to get out of speeding tickets or anything like that. However, many men are not adverse to using their supposed 'gender traits' to get out of unpleasant situations.

Take household chores, for instance. I have met men who insist that, "Of course I don't know how to wash up properly / hoover / dust / cook; I'm a guy!" On the subject of food, I've met men who use their gender to get out of trying new foods that they find intimidating: "I'm a meat and potatoes man; none of that faffy food for me!" Being male is given as a reason not to notice or care about mess, get out of buying or wearing decent clothes, driving like a sane person, or in fact stepping out of their ruts at all.

On a darker note, male urges are often used as an excuse to get out of taking the blame in rape cases. After "She was asking for it; look what she was wearing", some men will use the fact that they cannot always control their sexual arousal (what man hasn't had an inappropriate erection at one time or another?) as a lead-in to the idea that they cannot control their actions when they are aroused.

I'm not saying you're wrong by any means. I'm just pointing out that using one's gender as an excuse or a ploy to get out of unpleasant consequences is not restricted to the female. Just giving a different perspective on it.

La Gringa said...

I don't know - I think it's an art. I've been with my sister-in-law in Georgia when she's been pulled over by a cop and suddenly she is all Southern girly, eyelash-batting, "who, lil' ole me, officer?" and BLAM! The cop never knew what hit him. I say think of it as a super-power. Come on, if guys are stupid enough to fall for it, they sort of deserve what they get.

La Gringa said...

Oh, and the English major in me wants to tear her hair out whenever I see the word "womyn" or "wimmin" or whatever bastardization of the language that feminists-without-a-sense-of-humor care to throw at it.

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