Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'm A 22 Year Old Second Waver

So, after a few posts about feminism and gender, I had been planning on writing a post about neither, and focusing on the plague the lack of education and apathy toward that education has created in American society; I've been reading a book about religious literacy and had hoped to bring in some factoids from there along with some even more (for me) frightening facts from Rick Shenkman, but apparently that is waiting for another day. Probably tomorrow. Because I have discovered I am a second wave feminist; or possibly stuck perpetually in between the two waves, like some poor surfer that can't quite get the hang of how to do this thing.

My realization came when two premiere feminists from the site Jezebel whom I had never heard of went onto a program called Thinking and Drinking, something I also had never heard of -quite possibly because I am about as square as it can get. I can't really think of a worse combination myself, given the amount of times that has worked out to my own disadvantage. I kind of imagine it to be like the pot scenes on That 70s Show, only with more vomiting afterward. Anyway, these two third wavers, Moe and Tracie, went on this show and proclaimed that Gloria Steinem is a dinosaur. That was after they disparaged rape victims as not being "smart" and other things of that ilk.

I came to the realization that I really don't care what these two have to say. I still love Gloria Steinem, I still quote Betty Friedan frequently, and the only third-wave feminist I really absolutely adore/borderline worship is Jessica Valenti from Feministing (and I still have some problems with things like her bangs). I'm sure there are others out there I agree with, but I'm not really down with the "posting sexual exploits and treating this like a hooray for feminism" aspect of Tracie and Moe. I do think we face sexism every day, that second wavers did a lot of good out there, and that we should respect and honor them while continuing to shove forward. I can think of no worse thing to do than proclaim "Rape Can Be Boring".

Obviously, I care about third waver issues; I care about issues like female genital mutilation, I care about how women are treated in other parts of the world, and I care about how women who were excluded from the second wave implicitly either because of race or social class are treated in America today. And I am interested in working for their betterment in the name of feminism and through feminist goals. And so I straddle that fence. I don't know; maybe these two are just Third Wave's Germaine Greer.

What also kind of made me pause was some of the criticism, or not, of the two. Amanda from had an sympathetic and introspective piece about how she wasn't disappointed or mad at the two women; and then she said something interesting at the end of the piece that I took some issue with about the nature of feminism: "I'm often asked when I speak in public why young women don't call themselves feminists that much. And I say honestly, young straight women are afraid that they'll never get laid again, that their fragile dependence on men's good will is threatened by the word 'feminism'". Now, I have a lot to say on this issue; my best friend and I were recently discussing it. But I do think that this is simplifying it more than a bit.

I think actions taken by Moe and Tracie can partially account for why some women don't want to be called feminists. And also the hardliners and the ones who don't think they're hardliners but attack and viciously demolish anyone who may hold a different viewpoint than they do (and yet still considers him/herself a feminist). I mean, it could just be the sex thing, but then there's this: 

Who wants to be part of a club when you are continually embarrassed by the other members? 

Moe and Tracie embarrassed me; and if I were absolutely certain that the next time I proclaimed myself to be a feminist I would be compared -even silently- to one or both of them, I would still do it because I'm crazy like that. But I can see where it would give many people pause; people who have been raped; people who have loved ones who have been raped. People who just aren't down with drunken idiots who blather on about their sex lives and how kewl it is to be totally sexed up all the timez in the name of some wicked shit called feminism (that was me trying to be a hipster... ...or someone without a basic knowledge of the English language; I'll crawl under a rock now and vow to never do it again).

Groucho Marx once said "I'd never join a club that would have me as a member". And I think that is very much a reason for why feminism is still something of a dirty word. Who wants to wear the feminist button when you've got Germaine Greer and "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" and this crazy woman? Who wants to be a feminist when people then say things like, "But you're so cute!" and "But you're so sweet!", implying that feminists can neither be attractive or personable?

Well, I do. Because I don't want those people to define what I think is still a worthy movement. And I'll argue that more once everyone's detoxed from feminist-centered posts. But there are times, like when I come across video (and damn, I wish I knew how to embed) and transcripts of Moe and Tracie's alcohol-induced debacle, when I can't blame others for not being so keen on being joiners.


MediaMaven said...

I flipped through some of the links you provided. Read Jess and Josh's posts of the event; Jess is an NYU student who was actually in the audience and was appalled by the girls' behavior, and she once considered them her heroes.

You can embed videos by taking the embed link on the page and pasting it in the HTML section, and then just type your piece in either compose box. Also, you need to check out Lesley Stahl and Gail Collins' conversation on Gail Collins calls Buffy her "absolute favorite television show of all time" and she talks about feminism and the first ladies. And Lizz Winestead, the woman behind Thinking and Drinking (of which I also never heard of, so you are definitely not square) was the creator of the Daily Show.

petpluto said...

I actually read Jess and Josh's version of the event. It was linked on Feministing. I liked it, but I made the mistake (as I often do) of reading the comments that accompanied the blog. Her "heroes" posted there, and she was back in fawning mode. I can't blame her; I'm sure if I loved the two of them before I would make all sorts of excuses for their behavior, especially if I were under a certain age.

Thanks for the heads up on the other links! I'll be sure to check them out!

petpluto said...

Oh, and also, thanks for the heads up on how to actually embed a video. Hopefully I'll do that soon!