Feminism


As part of the poetry class I’m taking, I was looking at various books of poetry I have on my bookshelves and stumbled across this piece by Marge Piercy, which seems to fit the times, although it was published in 1991.

This post reminded me of a terrible poem I wrote back in college.  (I wrote a lot of terrible poetry back then).  In essence, it was a rant against my then boyfriend, now husband, that I would not be his personal feminist librarian.  I was in that first flush of feminism: angry, depressed, yet filled with rage seeking an outlet.  mr. jolt read the poem and, in some ways, backed away.   I think, looking back, he felt somewhat clueless, and in keeping with his general undergraduate persona, he took the lazy way out, and continued to rely on me to inform him of feminist viewpoints (dear reader, he has improved in this regard – but more on that later).

I am torn on the issue of feminist education and my individual obligation to provide it- I think it depends on the place and the person.  There are people who I think are not unreasonable, who seem merely unaware, who I try to draw in, educate, a little at a time.  I think I do this more often where I live now, which is a generally more conservative and traditional area than the BigCity I moved from a few years back.  So I try to have patience and remind myself that ignorance is not always arrogance.

But.  In a legal group I belong to, a certain portion of members are nominated as students by an officer of the local law school who is also a member of this legal group.  This year they were all male, all white.  I was discussing this with one of mr. jolt’s colleagues I’m friendly with, who said, yes, you need to tell Mr. G and he’s always appalled at himself, and says “please remind me, I just don’t think.”

Sheesh, the privilege in that.  He means to nominate women, to nominate non-white males, but just can’t remember unless someone reminds him.  Give me a break.  One or two years of “oversight” maybe- the guy is of an older generation where enlightenment is less commonly found – but this is absurd.

Anyway, I find myself torn between opposing drives: the drive to convince people I know that feminism is not as scary as they think it is (more on an interchange on that subject in a later post) and the drive to say: fuck ’em they’re just a bunch of entitled, privileged assholes.

When I was in college I always knew that I would be more comfortable working “in the system” trying to change it from the inside out.  I knew I didn’t have the heart or mettle of the revolutionary radical.  Which leads me to conclude that I must continue to educate and subtly manipulate.  And, where necessary confront, as I may well do with the guy above who just can’t “remember” because reminding him is not so much education but insistence on action.  But jeez, providing all this enlightenment gets old.

This post by Liz reminded me of something I did almost constantly while growing up – ask  boys to dance.1

I remember vividly when the dances began in junior high.  Most of my friends would sit out the slow dances, hoping that a cute guy, maybe even the guy, would ask them to dance, or simply waiting for the next fast song.  Not me.  I don’t know if it’s simply that I was too impatient to sit around when I could be dancing, or being unwilling to be pickee as opposed to picker.  I’m not even sure where this bizarre confidence/naivete came from.  But I have to say I had a lot of fun.

Which isn’t to say that guys didn’t say no.  They did, particularly the really cute, popular ones. (I was NOT popular, I was one of the masses).2  But, you know what, they said no. So effing what.  One or two even smirked when they said it, as if to say “who are you, mere peon, to ask me, god of the cute butt of 8th grade?”

I simply asked someone else and usually found someone to dance with.  I probably got a bit of a “reputation” because I was willing to dance with just about anyone (and I did get asked occasionally as I was making my way through the crowd searching for some guy I had spotted).  I didn’t care.

I look back and I’m still amazed at myself.  I honestly don’t know where it came from.  I am not always that self-assertive.  Indeed, there have been times when I have not been at all assertive (early in my legal career) in ways that hurt me for far longer than the length of a dance song.

I like to think that I grabbed back some of the small bravery (although at the time I think my attitude was more “what the hell”) when I left private practice.  I am less invested in my job and it gives me a lot more perspective on things, more willingness to say, “what’s the worst that can happen?”3

But, having been one of the apparently rare females that would go about all-school or all-city (gotta love the Rec Dept.) dances and ask cute boys to dance, I wonder, why the hell was I one of the few?

Look, I know, I know that most if not all women are socialized from day one to wait to be asked.  I’m sure somebody told me that.  I certainly horrified some of my friends, “God, I can’t believe you danced with him,” from time to time. 

Perhaps this asking was my first series of feminist acts.  And I have to remember that it all stemmed from an unwillingness to wait, an unwillingness to cede control, and an unwillingness to give a damn what a lot of people thought.  All necessary to become and be a feminist.

1 I do realize that there is a vast difference between a 14 year old girl asking people to dance and re-emerging into a social world that severe illness has kept one from.  I do not mean to cast aspersions.

2 Just to clarify, I was not popular.  In fact, halfway through 7th grade I had a big blowout fight with my best buddies from elementary and spent the second half of the year being kicked from one small social network to another. 

3 Perhaps this speaks more to the difference between criminal defense (worst: major jail time) and transactional/contract disputes (its only money, most of the time).

I was writing a substantive post, but it wasn’t going very well so I started farting around on youtube and found the following delightful combination of an oldy, but goody from the early days of  second wave of feminism and Hogwartsmania (I hope they redo it to include some footage from the latest movie- although it seems like with each movie Hermione (and Ron) have less and less screentime).

Although, in my opinion, they showed too much of Hermione at the ball from the fourth movie, and not enough of her decking Draco.  And here’s another one, along the same theme, but with more modern music:

Reading this post via Carnival of Feminists reminded me of all the ways in which I, and some of my friends, were humiliated during those awkward years of 11-14.*  All these emotions and memories come rushing to the forefront and it seems impossible to type down in any coherent fashion.  But I think it’s important to get this out there – the regular confusion, assaults and resulting shame due to confusion about who is to blame (the self? the aggressor?). 

(triggers?) (more…)

So the jolt family went camping over the long weekend.  Cabin camping (as in rough bunks & very basic kitchen) with a bunch of friends and their kids.  Sooo much fun.  A little canoeing, a little kayaking, a little hiking, some fishing.  Lots o’ cooking, eating, scrabble & laughter.  And s’mores of course.  Some snippets of conversation:

> First evening, in the kitchen:
jolt: I’m not seeing any beer in the fridge or the coolers.  Who was supposed to bring the beer? We need beer! 

> At the campfire, jolt joins the s’moresfest in progress:
BB: Mommy, stop, drop & roll really works!
jolt: uh, great.  jolt looks at mr. jolt to say wtf? mr. jolt shrugs shoulders.  When assisting BB with pajamas a short while later it is discovered that he has a hole in his shirt, similar to a cigarette type burn hole, but twice the size.   Yes, it’s a good thing stop, drop & roll really works.

> At the picnic table:
10 year old girl: what is feminism?
jolt: feminism is the radical idea that women are human.
10yo: what do you mean, of course women are human!
jolt: yes, but they are not usually treated that way.  Discussion of various examples ensues. (Anyone know of a good primer on feminism suitable for a smart 10 year old girl- I’d love to send one to this budding feminist).

> at the rocky beach:
BB & LB and friends: Will you please help us with our fishing poles.
jolt: Sorry boys, mommy doesn’t do worms, you’ll have to wait for daddy to come back.

From the Onion’s womens’ pages: Women Now Empowed by Everything A Women Does.  Hilarious.

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