There’s been a fair bit of talk about feminism on WordPress blogs recently. The first one I read, “Is Quiet Feminism an Oxymoron”, can be found at The Green Study. It is an interesting essay. One in which Michelle, who authors the blog, examines her own ‘relationship’ with feminism; and whether or not she’s doing enough for the cause.
The problem I sometimes have with ’causes’ in general is, they seem to go hand in hand with anger. It’s not necessarily true, but it is how it often ‘feels’. The perception. The image I have in my mind, and often see on television, is of people screaming and shouting. Waving fists. Pointing fingers. Being aggressive. Argumentative. Red-faced. Hot under the collar. Throwing placards. Fighting. Scuffling with police.
This is not a criticism. It’s not that I’ve never reacted, or over-reacted. I most certainly have. It’s not that I’m
not passionate about things. I am. It’s not that I don’t have a temper. Far from it.
Frankly, I am a feminist. And I do make my feelings known. Just in a different way.
As far as I’m concerned, no man, or government, has the right to tell me what I can and cannot earn. What I can and cannot do. With my education. With my professional life. With my personal life. With my spiritual life. With my body. With my expectations, hopes and dreams. And I believe every woman and girl, regardless of age, race, religion, social standing, finances and place of birth is entitled to the exact same rights as I expect for myself.
Last night, for example, I couldn’t believe my ears when Bill Maher interviewed Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first woman film maker. Despite the fact that she strode on stage in tight jeans and a blazer, much the same as you or I would have, she had to direct her film from a van, using a walkie-talkie. Why? Because she is a woman. Because she could not be seen in public with the male crew and actors. For that matter, even making the film could have gotten her killed. In 2013.
And we think we’re hard done by.
Her film, Wadjda, the story of a ten-year old girl who wants only to own a bicycle (considered dangerous for her virtue), is Al-Mansour’s way of championing women’s rights. It’s her way of inspiring and empowering women in her country. It is her way of pushing for change.
What she’s doing excites me. Because I think it is so much more powerful than yelling.
It reminds me of an expression my grandmother had: “You can catch more bees with honey, than with vinegar”. It was her go-to line anytime anyone in the family got pissed off about anything. When they were about to go off like a lit fuse. To huff. And puff. To get carried away. To let someone have it.
She was right, of course. I know, from personal experience, people turn off when your voice is raised. They don’t hear a word you’re saying. They block you out. They go into a defensive mode. They stop listening. And what you can end up with, is an opportunity lost.
Several more essays on feminism have appeared on The Outlier Collective. The one I most related to, “How One Angry Feminist Became A Little Less Angry And Stayed Just A Feminist”, was written by Britni. I share a lot of the same opinions. I’ve learned a lot of the same lessons, also from some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. I’ve come to a lot of the same conclusions. And you know what?
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she’s talked to my grandmother.
Great post, thanks
Getting angry just brands you as “emotional” and a “typical female”. But getting creative about furthering your cause gets you branded as ingenious.
It’s so true. In fact, if you’re a female everyone is waiting for you to get emotional. It’s what’s expected.
With all of the issues women still deal with in Canada and the US, we have made some good progress due to the strong voices of feminist women who came generations before us. I agree with the softer, steadier approach. Softer does not translate to weak. We live in our own little bubbles though which is why we find it unbelievable that Haifaa Al-Mansour is being treated like a leper in her home country.
Yes, you’re right. We have no idea what really goes on in other parts of the workd. Although social media is changing that now.
Your post has given me another reason to be grateful that I was born in America. I know how I am. I can only imagine that they must break the spirit of women in order to get them to comply. Maybe when you grow up like that you feel differently but it’s so hard for me to imagine that. I wonder if most grow up wishing they were men.
That’s an interesting question. I wonder. I just cannot imagine being forced to live that way. We take an awful lot for granted.
Thanks to social media it’s all starting to change now. Opression and abuse and the raping of women and children is out in the open now. And they can see the freedom with which we can live out lives. And that, combined with the courage of women like this film maker, is giving them all the strength and desire to fight back.
Wise words indeed. Even the evolution of feminism has had to go through the same learning, from being loud and angry initially to being quieter and resolute in order to achieve progress. Long may it continue.
Long may it continue. Indeed.
Girls, bikes and the question of freedom… this might also interest you: http://mountain2mountain.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/gear-drive-bikes-women-and-afghanistan/
Thank you! I will read this.
Unfortunately, because we still live in a patriarchal society (yes also in the west) where men are still trying to dictate the terms (yes in the west), women do have to be loud otherwise they will remain unheard…. softly softly doesn’t cut it! However, because we are acting within this patriarchal paradigm the “loudness” which if a man were doing it would be labelled ‘assertiveness’ is often misconstrued and labelled as bitchiness or resentment or something, because men are actually threatened by this behaviour – because this loudness and assertivenesss is the way they behave…. so give it right back to them I say, wear them down… and as long as women label other women as ‘loud’ the problem will self perpetuate.
I am not labeling women as being loud. I said often times causes, in general, womens’ and otherwise, are offen associated with anger and shouting etc. there are times it is effective and there are times it is not. Just like anything else. And I will always believe there are things each of us can do as individuals to further the causes and issues important to us. And do it in our own way.
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