Tuesday, September 19, 2006

shades of gray

the post below about how i'm not a feminist was difficult for me to write. it was difficult because i rarely, if ever, see things in simple black and white. for me, it's always about the billion shades of gray that lie between. so in things like the post below, it genuinely is hard for me to take a solid and firm stand. i always feel like i'm writing and i want to interject with things like "well i only believe this way IF.. and i believe in this in this situation, but not if the situation was something like THIS..." know what i mean? so it's very difficult for me to convey everything i think and feel, because it is so relative. it is so situation inspired.

hell, maybe i am a feminist by basic definition. i've just never labeled myself one. and i've never wanted to label myself as one. you guys were right. you were so right on when you said that the word feminist has gotten a bad rap over the years. because i totally think it has. when i think of the word feminist, i don't want to be associated with it (and no, not in the "i am above you" kind of way... in more of the "i can't relate to your craziness" kind of way). i don't think the feminists of today, are anything like the feminists of our yesteryear. but i could be totally wrong (suebob- no more schooling. lol- smooch!). my grandmother was one of the first female principal's in a school in southern california. she's a freaking bad ass and i love her for it. that is the kind of strength that i admire. that's the stuff in my opinion, that is worth fighting for.

but when i think of the feminists today, i think of the extremists. i think of the women who have the attitude towards other women that you are either with us, or against us. the type of women who attempt to make you feel bad that you don't want to fight. the women who expect you to take a stand because they are. those women who feel that simply because you are a woman, you should be flying to DC to march on the capital. for what again? i'm all for fighting for a cause when it's something i believe in. you can get me riled up when it's something that's important to me. but to march for the sake of marching isn't really my style. but, i guess that's what all of this is right? maybe marching for the sake of marching is someone else's style. maybe that march is important to them. and that's why they do it. see, it's all relative. and i'm not trying to group all feminists together into 1 extremist lump. i don't think that everyone who considers themselves a feminist, is an extremist. i'm just pointing out that when i do think of the word feminist, my gut reaction is to associate it with an extreme person.

i think of the women who are like an ex-friend of mine. she was so extreme, closed minded, and judgemental- yet she constantly talked about how she was none of these things. she was always pissed off about something and could rarely have a civilized debate because every fucking thing got her so riled up. she called people on the other side of her fence names. anyone who didn't agree with her, or see things from her perspective was an idiot (among other things). she always had to be right. and she was a self proclaimed feminist. so i never wanted to be one of those. i never wanted to be associated with that way of thinking. that harsh, closed minded perspective isn't something that i can relate too. i'm far too fucking understanding. i see things from all sides. hence, more shades of gray.

i guess the bottom line is that i am not extreme anything (except extremely fun!!!). i always think that there is a middle ground to be found. a compromise. it may not make everyone happy, but it's a start. i don't think that going to extremes helps a cause. i think it makes the cause and the people less credible. but that's just my opinion. what's yours?

ps- i must admit that this post is totally straying from what i was even trying to say in my initial post below. all i meant was that i wasn't about women this, women that because i'm a woman. my post was simply meant to mean that i'm a who you are type of person, not a what you are type of person. carry on. lol

pps- writing this gave me a fucking headache. tomorrow, i'm writing about puppies and rainbows.. or justin timberlake! oh yeah!


Evil Witch said...

this brings up feelings Ive had ever since I was old enough to have them, On most issue's im what I call "walking the fence" that is to say that always I can see both sides of an issue, can usually see good and bad points to both sides of the arguement and can rarely pick a side of an issue because of it. call me neutral. on most occasions both sides are so extreme that I cant take a side, this includes feminism. For an examle: Women who bitch that they cant be in the military 'cause their women, then when they get in they cry about its severity toward people, the rape the torture the killing. Well it's what you wanted right? To be accepted by the boys as one of them even though your a woman? alls fair in war they say. Or how they've worked so hard all these years to be included and treated as equals only to start their own "club" and alienate those same people they've been trying to be equals with. Sorry about the long comment. I just think you've made some really good points.

norcalgirl28 said...

I think my eyes are crossed...but I still love you :)

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was talking about in my "There's a lot to hate about me" post from last year - I'm never going to please anyone from any extreme, and I find the hypocrisy of extremism (in any form) repellent.

GraceD said...

Yes, lovely Jennster. Shades of gray everywhere. Or, as the Buddhists say, "the middle way".

Here's my deal - I happen to be Filipina. You may have noticed that at BlogHer. However, I don't haul out the race card everywhere I go. I assume that it makes no difference to folks and that I'll be accepted as that snarky mom you see volunteering at her kid's high school and that lady who plays fetch with that hyper Jack Russell Terrier every day on the beach.

However, I do haul out the race card anytime I encounter racism. And, racists do fuck with people of color. It happens a lot more than most Americans think.

Same gig with being a feminist. Again, I wander around my happy little beach world, tossing the ball to the dog, picking my high school teen diva from school. Then I get home and rev up the computer to find horseshit like this:

from Amy Storch's ClubMom blog - employers can legally ask prospective employers of their marital status and its implications for mothers

Then I haul out my credit card and send a donation to MomsRising or NOW or Planned Parenthood to help them pay for lawyers to sue the holy hell out of whoever needs to cease their sexist shit.

All three of Molly's adults - her biodad/my ex, her stepdad/my husband and I - are raising her with feminist values. She is aware of the limitations society imposes on the place and progress of women and we guide her on strategies on how to deal. That doesn't mean we raise her with fear and suspicion, but we do impress upon her that she is powerful and worthy. We would do this with a son, of course, but it's even more critical to build the pride of our daughters who are assaulted 24/7 with demeaning images of females in the media... and much more.

Finally, I have my own Feminist Manifesto of sorts on my blog. It's cheerful, upbeat and does not alienate anyone:

Two Feminists

Jennster, thanks for your candor and for letting me use all this bandwidth. You are awesome.

Becky at lifeoutoffocus said...

lol you crack me up. but i'm with ya. i see MANY things with shades of gray. things that im SUPPOSED to feel as a person that goes to my church or things i'm SUPPOSED to feel since i'm a wife or a mom etc. and really i just see things how i see them and decide for myself. i dabbled a bit into that in the forum when we were talking about religion. things that im supposed to think or feel are changing and really i just think what i wanna think and thats who i am. and you know me--i'm far from extreme on anything. totally with ya! xo

Mel said...

Jenn - I'm a feminist. But I'm a quiet feminist. I think that feminism has, as you said, gotten a very bad rap. And it's the fault of extremists, also as you said. It's like thinking all Muslims are crazy wife-beating asshats who will bomb you as soon as look at you, based on the actions of a minority of extremist fundamentalist crazies.
But see, here's my thing: as the mother of daughters, I cannot be anything but a feminist. Because I do not want to imagine my girls' lives as adults, or even teenagers, if there weren't women out there fighting to make sure that women everywhere get treated with decency and respect.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

You may not be extreme...but you're extremely entertaining.

Dustin said...

you think YOU got a headache writing that, try reading it on my end

i need to catch up here.

Anonymous said...

You're an extreme Fun-inist, not an extreme Fem-inist! tee-hee!

SUEB0B said...

Sorry about the headache. I think it is pretty much a matter of semantics. To me, being a feminist means that you won't let people put you down or take advantage of you because you are a woman. Period. And I think you definitely fall into that category.

I am also for men's equality. I think men should be free to be as "feminine" as they want to, because only when acting "like a woman" is ok for everyone will we be equal.

If men want to wear makeup, obsess about shoes, drink white wine and giggle with their friends, it should be as ok as it is for women to not wear makeup, wear work boots, drink scotch and sit at home playing video games.

We shouldn't others dictate our ideas of what it means to be a "real man" or "real woman" is what I am trying to say. Everyone should get a chance to do the things that make them happy, as long as they aren't hurting others.

Ok, shutting up now.

Oh, Jenn...I didn't mean to say that you THOUGHT you were above others, only that your phrasing could be construed that way. And I wanted to say that we were standing on the shoulders of those brave women, so I went out of my way for a metaphor. I apologize if it seemed otherwise.

Because you know I love you, you whore. (Now I am falling off my chair laughing).

Kelly Wolfe said...

When I read your previous post I kept picturing your photos from Blogher. Tons of girl power there. But I totally understand your shunning of the label feminist. Too much polarization. You are an individualist perhaps?? A humorist? A funnyist? A sisterist?


carrie said...

Figuring out where we stand on things like this is half the fun of living this life!!! Okay, now for a little J.T., my brain needs a break!!! :0)


crazymumma said...

It is a confusing debate isn't it?

I look forward to puppies, rainbows and Justin Timberlake - how ya gonna pull all that together?

Anonymous said...

I dunno if I should post here or not. I'm sure I found you beacuse you posted ona blog I read and I followed you. I am male, married and a daddy. I believe that my bride has a fair deal, I don't have a clue (cause thats how guys are) if my bride considers herself a feminest or not but she doesn't work outside the home, she doesn't open her door if I'm there, she doesn't do manual labor outside raising the children, and she is no doubt the strongest woman i know.
This being said I will now draw the abuse of the feminists
I think that weak women lean on this because they are weak, the same take I have about colored (wether black, brown, yellow green or whatever) lean on racial issues. I understand both fem issues and racial issues exist but come on now. The negative feeling folks feel against fems is that they feel put out when I say ma'am (which I always say no matter how old a female is) or when I get the door or when I help carry something or when I offer to0 change the tire or whatever
folks should be proud of their sex or race but don't use it as a crutch and don't use it to be pissy with me because I am nice.
we (all white males) can't help how we were birthed (being white males) anymore than u can help being birthed however you were..........

Girlplustwo said...

extremely anything exhausts me. we all have to find our own music, and yours sounds lovely.

Anonymous said...

I totally get what you're saying. I'm somewhat the same. I believe what I believe because I think it's right, not because it's part of a movement. I support certain things and leave other things alone. Everything I believe is loaded with qualifiers. Nothing is black and white in life.

yorksdevil said...

I hate it when people just resort to launching insults at anybody who dares have a different opinion. I just want people to form an argument. I even argue thinks I don't believe if someone has a lousy argument because I want them to come up with a better one - even if I actually agree with them.

As for the relative thing, it's tough but if you try to cover every possibility you'll never say anything of any value. Just outline the broad principles and worry about the details later.

Christina_the_wench said...

God, no Justin Timberlake. PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

feminist jihads are askeery

Pollyanna said...

Okay, I haven't had time to read everybody's comments, so I could totally be repeating everybody else. If I am, please excuse my dumbass.

Here's what I think, the feminist movement should be about giving the woman the CHOICE to decide what works for them. If a woman wants to be a stay-at-home-Mom, so be it. If a woman wants to work outside the home, so be it. If a woman wants to have 10 kids and then work outside the home, okay. You know what I mean? Feminism should be about not judging each other for our opinions or what works for us or our families. I would hope that feminism would be about being more accepting of each other and realizing that what works for one woman may not work for another, but it's all okay. none of it's right or wrong, it's just a different CHOICE. And having the ability to make those choices for ourselves rather than having it dictated to us what is okay and what's taboo. AND that is what I think feminism should be all about.

Meg said...

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels trapped in the gray area. I usually have one side of an issue that I lean towards, but I seem to always agree with both sides to an extent. It makes it really hard to defend my stance when need be, so I usually end up keeping my mouth shut.

Heidi said...

Good on yea, Jen, I think it is important to have strong opinions. I think the current rage of feminism is highly overrated as well...


Her Bad Mother said...

I'm so late in commenting on this (and your post below) because I got way burned out this week (and feministed out). I basically agree - in fact, this is really the problem that I have with women arguing about feminism - it turns everybody else off. When some women say (as some did to me for talking about how I lurve Gloria Steinem) that this or that's not feminism, that that's just rich white privilege, I get pissed and pretty fucking sick and tired of the whole thing - and I know that so many other women feel the same way. Extreme feminists hurt their own cause by insisting that there's only one way to be a feminist.

To me, a real feminist is someone who is pro-woman, who supports women - including girly-girls who love purses and shoes, like me.