Sunday, January 9, 2011

Not to Harp on About Feminism or Anything But... by Alex Snider

Have you ever had something, an idea, an opinion, a cause, anything, that was really important to you and you wanted to tell lots of people about it so they could understand you a little better? And, has that something, whatever it may be, affected your life? How about the lives of people you love? Or people that are in really horrible situations and need extra support because they're busy struggling to just survive? What about those who haven't been born yet, your future children, nieces, nephews?

Now, what if that something that is so important to you, that impacts your life on a daily basis is regularly mocked? Or marginalized? Or falsified? 

What if every time you wanted to talk or write about that very special something you were told to stop, to forget it? Or maybe you were told that you didn't actually know anything about that something? And, then you have to hear jokes that constantly belittle you because you actually dare to care about this thing that fucking affects every aspect of your life? 

This is what I feel like as a feminist. There are images that bombard me every day that tell me being a woman is all about looking thin but not too thin, sexy not too sexy, smart but not smarter than the stupidest man. I get told by strange men that they like my skirt, that they'd like to have sex with me, that I'd be prettier with a smile on my face. I know that if I talked about my experience with date rape I'd be asked what I had been wearing and how much I had had to drink. 

I wake up everyday knowing that women in Canada still make, best case scenario, $ .71 to the dollar Canadian men make; that one in six women will be raped while only 60% of rapes will be reported; that up to four million women and girls are sold into prostitution and/or slavery every year; that it's estimated that two million girls face female genital mutilation annually; that Aboriginal women in Canada are three times more likely than white women to be abused by their partners; that in some countries baby girls are being murdered because having a daughter is less adventageous than having a son; that there are millions of women worldwide who don't have the basic human right of autonomy over their bodies and that even where women do, that right is constantly under attack; that women in the Caribbean are 2.5 times more likely to contract HIV than men and that in Africa, there are nearly 4 million more women with HIV/AIDS than menI know that women who blog about feminism receive death threats and face smear campaigns.

As a human being, these facts leave me speechless with rage and sorrow; as a feminist they leave me in a puddle on the floor. How can I be expected or asked to keep quiet when my fellow women, my fellow Canadians, my fellow human beings are being discriminated against, degraded, abused, murdered every fucking day? And, why would I keep quiet or get over it or lighten up and if I, if other women also stopped "harping" about these "unpleasant" issues then who would help and support those other women who aren't in a position to help or support themselves? The patriarchy has made it clear, time and time again, that a woman's worth is her vagina but supporters of women everywhere know that shit is nothing but a shackle to hold us down.

As a woman, as a feminist and as a supporter of womanism I reject that it is unladylike to stand up for what I believe in. It doesn't matter how many times I'm told to calm down, or get over it, or how many times I'm told that it's not so bad anymore, or men face sexism as well, I will not stop because other feminists will not stop and together we are strong and a fucking force to be reckoned with and we want this world to be better place. 

Two pieces inspired this post: the amazing Sady Doyle over at Tiger Beatdown wrote this, which is possibly the most heartbreaking yet brave blog post I've ever read. And, this absolutely spot-on comic by  
Gabby Schulz. Check them both out because, really, they illustrate privilege and the uphill battle facing feminists perfectly.

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