An Explanation of Feminism – Written December 17, 2004

Recently, I began noticing an extraordinary amount of students expressing dissatisfaction at the systems that are in place without taking into regard how the systems worked, just what they desired the systems to be. Without a real understanding of exactly how things work, it is difficult to change them; ergo I was motivated to write as a way of expressing my hope in the future of feminism which, it seems, is having the same old problems. My first experience with feminism was negative – I thought of them as most thought of them – overbearing man-hating lunatics. And this is not to say some aren’t; in fact, it’s probably those lunatics that have helped feminism get into the jam it’s in. However, the true idea of feminism is the idea that women have an equal status to men. Really, it’s what the word “sexism” should mean if we hadn’t otherwise labeled it as discriminatory; based in the idea of “isms,” one might think feminism is judging one based on one’s feminine attributes. That’s what chauvinists try to twist it into. Chauvinist is another interesting word, stemming from General Chauvin, a man whose only fault was his devotion to his commander, Napoleon. The idea of belief in superiority of individuals like one’s self has been since called Chauvinism; anyone can be a Chauvinist as long as they think they, their race, sex, believers, or other such related people are better than everyone else. Both Chauvinism and Feminism are huge umbrella terms that are often very misused. We’ll try not to do that here.

The applicability of society is simple. Whoever writes the rules benefits the most, chauvinistically. This is to say that if old poor Korean women were the founding fathers of this country, law would be built to benefit old poor Korean women. Instead, the founders were middle-aged rich white men, what we might see as yuppies, and lo-and-behold, look at all the rich white men still running around today. This isn’t just our country, it’s every country: when an individual, or group of individuals, receive the ability to benefit themselves, they will do so even at the expense of others. They will also attempt to secure their “legacy” so that their offspring can maintain what they maintained. The best thing women had for them up until the last few hundred years was that men needed them for their latter of agendas. Systems are that simple, or were, until about a hundred years ago, give or take fifty years, at least in America. To this day, it’s easy to see how ancient methods of control are inflicted to suppress people every day in other parts of the world. In the United States, things have evolved somewhat.

In the latter part of the 19th century women finally started to realize that they were not the weak subservient creatures they were made to believe they were for so long. This dates back thousands of years as women have been oppressed for many millennia, the main reason ultimately being religion put to use by irresponsible parties. As with Nietzsche’s “God is dead,” so came the notion he was aiming at which was the idea that perhaps the old God was dead, and a new idea of God must be manifested by man; around the same time, humans began to understand even more of their capability, and quickly slavery was destroyed and then came women’s right to vote. And, at the time, that’s what women wanted. It was early on, they knew they were strong, but they also accepted the idea that some jobs are better suited for one sex or the other, an idea I think has merit and will get into later. But their aims were not to have equality. Equality is an idea that is difficult to fully justify, as true equality is difficult to determine. As women progressed through time, after “Rosie the Riveter” and through the Civil Rights Era, they realized that voting was only the beginning of what they were really aiming for, so they began to strive for equal rights in the workplace.

Once again, we’re back to the idea of equality: the idea that each person has the same intrinsic value. This idea is perfectly fine until it goes into practice. Because obviously while a mechanic and a doctor may share the same intrinsic value, one wants one to work on a car and one to work on human bodies – this is not discriminatory, this simply is what it is. If two people with equal rights are applying for the job, the better qualified person will get the job. The tricky part is how many sets of criteria do you have to judge this? To keep with the idea of feminism, everyone should be judged on the same criteria, which is something that sounds very good in theory. For example, in the industry of modeling, an industry where women vastly outnumber men but are never labeled as discriminators and where physical prowess is a prerequisite for the job, should a person be allowed to be passed up for the job because they are not good looking enough? The reason for models is to sell products by looking good: if they don’t look good they can’t sell the product. Interestingly, this now creates a spillover effect, as all people in the retail business must have some level of attractiveness to be able to make sales. Within the field of sales is also the idea of “savvy,” or the ability to “schmooze.” Can we gauge which individual would be a better employee based on who they are? It seems that, with feminism, one would hire a person based solely on utility or how well they would perform a task. But unfortunately there are many factors that are included as to why a person gets a job; in the world of modeling one can be dumb but attractive whereas in the world of business one could be ugly and smart. Both can succeed but in different fields.

Where this becomes a problem is when people that are not necessarily perfectly suited to a task desire to do that task. For our purposes, let’s talk broadcasting. It is interesting how many women I know that are interested in “broadcasting” and not “media.” While they write, they don’t desire to inform the public through writing for a magazine or newspaper, they want to be on T.V. This gets us into a bigger problem. The facts of what we see on T.V. are simple – there are a lot of men and there are a few attractive women. If Al Roker was a woman he wouldn’t be on The Today Show, and at the same time women like Oprah and Ricky Lake are praised for “bridging the gap” or “beating the odds,” which they indeed have done, but through what motivations? These are shows that exist primarily for housewives, not businesswomen. While the programmers of television may be male, they are programming what their target audience wants to see, and their target audience usually does not include themselves. Look how many networks are geared specifically towards women and how few specifically geared towards men. Even ESPN, a network under a lot of scrutiny in the past few years about how few women are shown, has realized that women like sports just like men do and that some of them even like sports more than men. Networks like E!, talking about glamour and entertainment in Hollywood, Oxygen and Lifetime broadcast the same stereotyped movies over and over again. So while women say they want to see normal women on the news but like to see gorgeous glamorous women everywhere else is ridiculous, because the fact is while most of the men shown on these women’s networks are decently attractive, the women are always stunning. When this is done by The Man Show it’s seen as discriminatory, but when it’s done by The L Word it’s not. How many unattractive guests does The View have? Why is it this way? Because the majority of women want it to be this way.

Now for the really icky part; you remember those women who were all about equal rights and voting and whatnot? Those would be the women that are the “target audience,” not the modern feminist. The problem is that what the modern feminist desires is not what a feminist of even a decade ago desires. What this tells me is that as long as the feminist movement continues to hold specific ideas about equality for a select amount of time and then changes the position slightly it will continue to see the aftershock that is has. It is as if women, of whatever time, have a goal in mind as to what will make them “more equal.” Once this goal has been achieved, they see their situation as satisfying and no longer continue until the next generation of feminists, because of their perspective, sees that while things might be more equal than they were, they are not really equal. The real question now remains: is equality really what we want? I hear female servers in restaurants say, “You’re a guy; can you pick this up for me?” or in grocery stores where the men are expected to get the carts. This would also mean that people are no longer allowed to date discriminatorily, if this gets taken as far as it should, dating a person for their looks or their car or their popularity would be out of the question. These things must be taken into account. The question is not if we can achieve these things, the question is do we really want to? Wouldn’t it be better to all accept ourselves the way we are, accept the world the way it is, and live life accordingly? And I don’t mean not try to change the world, but maybe not be so adamant about “saving it.” Surely it is crazy that when one looks at an ugly woman and an ugly man they will see the ugly women, and the same is true for when they are attractive. Men and women alike have put females on this pedestal of nonsense where they claim there is no such thing as bodily function and they have to wear 15 different make-up products. This is the culture we built, those same people striving for freedom so long ago whose children still do it today, in different ways the old would have never approved of.

This is our world, and we can do whatever we want to with it. We need to let the past go. We must forget about the archaic ideas that are oppressing us and dividing us – making us want to be on television instead of getting us to see the real issue at hand. The future is five minutes ago, and we have some catching up to do.

2 thoughts on “An Explanation of Feminism – Written December 17, 2004

  1. Pingback: Selective Service: A Feminist Perspective – Written February 15, 2001 « jsphfrtz's weblog

  2. Great article Joe. I said I would read it and finally did. The “blind” feminism fight is a product we/they have created and other groups follow the same illogical format. You want X because of Y, finally achieve X, high five/fist pump, maybe even grab a neutral cocktail (or vagtail), and then stop progressing. You don’t worry about the backlash or fallout, but savor in your victory and return to California to pay your taxes.

    You stated,” …. the founders were middle-aged rich white men, what we might see as yuppies, and lo-and-behold, look at all the rich white men still running around today.” I think that’s a fair assessment based on partial facts, but in a way serves as a disservice because it nullifies the fact that many of the FF’s at one time were wealthy, but many (most) lost their wealth, life, and family members as a result. The men who signed the DoI did so knowing their lives would forever be changed…..likely for the worst. They acted in a way to preserve, but also advocate for others who couldn’t. The rich white men in power today aren’t so much a product created or streamlined by the FF’s, but rather a result of people taking advantage of what the FF’s initiated and put into practice, by using their own wealth and power to maintain their ideal of the “status quo.”

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