Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Five Things Feminism Has Done for Me

Abby Scott Baker served as an officer of the National Women's Party. This picture of Abby Scott Baker in prison dress dates to 1917, after her arrest and conviction for participating in a suffrage protest in Washington, DC.

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I got tagged by Shakespeare’s Sister a couple of days ago for this. From a male perspective, this is obviously going to be very different from the women participating. While I can't claim to have reaped any direct benefits (damn, it's so fucking hard being a white male) along the lines of the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to control my body as I see fit, etc., I can claim to have been affected by feminism. What it has done for me can basically be summed up as education. However, I'll list 5 stages during my life in which feminism played a part:

1. Before I knew there were people who were gay & straight, black & white, rich & poor, I knew there were men and women. I knew I was male. I also knew I had a very strong feminine side. I would be wrestling with it for years. Feminism forced me to think about and deal with who I am.

2. Feminism got me interested in politics from the time I was 12. It was the first political movement I recall following. I supported the E.R.A. through the 70s and initially was excited that it appeared to be on a fast-track for ratification. I remember the utter frustration as fewer and fewer of the required 38 states would ratify the amendment. By the time I was 16 it appeared to be dead and I could not understand why. (Nor could I understand my own mother's opposition to it.)

3. Feminism taught me there are people out there in power who are not to be trusted. Phyllis Schlafly comes to mind. (I called her "Syphilis Shitfly." Come on, I was a juvenile!) I learned for the first time just how dirty and corrupt politics can be. I learned how hard one must fight for something as basic as equality, and even then there are no guarantees.

4. In the early 1980s I saw Gloria Steinem speak at the University of Arkansas - Little Rock. I certainly wasn't the only man in attendance. It reinforced my view that the feminist movement doesn't have to exclude involvement and participation by men. In fact, it was at this point when I began to realize how interconnected things are. Feminism wasn't a threat to men; rather it was an essential element in the evolution of humanity to a higher level. And my attendance at the event was a way for me to show my solidarity with all my sisters who were having to struggle for rights that I never had to think about.

5. In the mid-80s as I was nearing the end of my studies in college I selected a history class to fulfill one of the necessary electives for my degree. The class was called "History of Women in Witchcraft." I thought it would be interesting but I had no idea it would impact my life the way it did. The class was small... no more than 9 or 10 students. Only 2 of us were male. For the first week or two it was quite obvious some of the women in the class were not very happy about 2 men being present. They did warm up to me later but the other guy just caught hell because he never fit in with the group. He even dressed in the patriarchal garb (suit & tie) which I'm sure contributed to his ostracision. The class taught me so much about life -- not just women. It was probably the point at which, for the first time, I was truly comfortable knowing that I was a gay man.

Feminism has made me an angry activist. I am pissed off because we haven't yet had a woman president or vice-president after 200+ years. I am pissed off there's only one woman currently sitting on the Supreme Court. Frankly, I'm ready to see a Supreme Court comprised ONLY of women. It would help make up for the years of male dominance. It's also frustrating to know that only 14 of our senators are women, (and far more frustrating to realize how many of those are anti-feminist and among the most repugnant representation out there.)

It's interesting to note how many firsts for women have occurred in my lifetime:

Margaret Chase Smith, of Maine, was the first woman nominated for president of the United States by a major political party (Republican!) in 1964.

Shirley Chisholm, of New York, was the first African-American woman in Congress in 1969.

Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She was appointed (by Ronald Reagan!) in 1981.

Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice-president on a major party ticket in 1984.

Madeleine Albright was the first woman to hold the position of secretary of state in 1997.

"I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves."
--Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)

tagged: jami, shamanic, kelly, theresa, spyderkl

That should be enough to twist some shit up!

kudos to progressive bloggers in Canada.

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