So last week I wrote about my general journey with feminism and how “F’em” by Jennifer Baumgardner has helped me along finding what I value and believe in. This week I’d like to dive in a little deeper to a couple things she talked about that really resonated with me when it came to creating my base values in feminism.
“Feminism has given me a powerful lens with which to view the world. What I needed as a young woman, and what I think women need now, are not more critics shaking their fingers, but more models and examples of the free, powerful sexuality… ”
At the end of Baumgardner’s book she includes a critique on another feminist, Ariel Levy’s book “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture”. This critique resonated with me as I found myself nodding agreement as I flipped though the pages.
She explains how Levy is “disappointed” by the feminist today with their “thongs and stripper-wannabe antics”. Levy took a strong stance on an issue but Baumgardner is not sure it can really be so black and white. Basically by embracing sexuality with olympic athletes topless on magazines, Girls Gone Wild, porn, Playboy, and more, that women are not rising above sexism and misogyny but instead they are accepting it. In a way Baumgardner agrees. It can be looked at like that in a way that we not only have accepted objectification be we objectify ourselves too. This has always been a debate for feminists. How do we combine sex and feminism? Can feminism be sexy? Baumgardner isn’t sure but she is sure that there has always been this battle of sexuality and feminism and that instead of acknowledging that with efforts to work through it, Levy talks only about this “once, good, clear feminism” that is no longer, which doesn’t seem right to Baumgardner or to me. I don’t think we can completely write off Levy’s thoughts, they are hard to take but they are strong and meaningful opinions that need to be considered but I do agree with Baumgardner that this one strict way of thought cannot be the end all be all.
Baumgardner is so honest and open, which I loved. She not only admits she doesn’t have all the answers but she discusses her not so perfect college version of feminism, consisting of standing up against date rapes and misogyny in fraternities but still partying there the next weekend. We are human, no one is perfect. It was reassuring to know that other people struggle with sex and feminism. She also discusses how all of her experiences both “pure” and not have helped shape her opinions, values, and beliefs now, which I bet is true of many, if not all feminists.
Some of these critiques, thoughts, and quotes got me to define a couple things that I find absolutely necessary to my beliefs about feminism, work with me, it’s still in progress.
1. I’m definitely on board with this definition of feminism: The social, political, and economical equality of the sexes.
2. No blaming, shaming, hating, or looking down upon women. In my own feminist values I believe I should not add negativity to the way people perceive women. I steer clear of the words slut, whore, skank, etc. and try my best to show support for my fellow sisters and not tear them down or be too competitive.
3. Choice. I believe women have the right to choose. I am not talking solely about abortion but about choosing who you sleep with, how you sleep with them, how you dress, how you wear your hair, the way you act, the way you dance, and more! I think we should all have the choice to be who we are with no apologies and if everyone could just be themselves and enjoy without this pressure of society, wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
What do you think? Comment and let me know what are some of your main beliefs/values/ etc. when it comes to your feminist self?