Feminism evolves for a new era
In our culture, very often, men are the ones who look; women are the ones who are looked at. Men are the ones who like to control the conversation; women are the ones who are made to react.
We must remember these basic truths, and we must guard against the severe abuses and distortions that result.
I was thinking about this as I tuned into MSNBC and saw two young women, “The Cycle” co-host Krystal Ball and Abby Huntsman, daughter of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, discuss Huntsman joining the show.
This was happening around the same time that Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, a proud defender of reproductive rights, was being almost violently dismissed by the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party as nothing more than an automaton who had surely had a face job.
Once upon a time, “ordinary-looking” feminists had reservations about “lookism” when those like Gloria Steinem arrived to shake things up. They had features and faces that were thought to be distractions.
These women are striking to look at, some said; no one should take them seriously. Steinem’s response was to dress down, pull her hair back and wear the ugliest pair of glasses she could find. Hmmm.
Some thought that feminism and plain appearance went together nicely — that, in fact, they had to go together.
Whether that belief is spouted by women or men, it quite obviously is hogwash.
Any “type” of woman can show high-profile support of female rights. Any type of woman can have the powerful impulse to defend her equality in a world that’s often thoughtlessly dominated by men.
Any type of woman can fight for fair play in business, politics, art and throughout society.
This is a natural impulse. It is a necessary impulse.
Witness the fights in Washington, D.C. being waged by Sens. Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand against the dangerous and corrosive, male-dominated military culture, which far too often has gone so stubbornly irrational as to defend men who have raped and abused women in the ranks.
The fact is, women can be equal partners in all things — even in making war, if that is what they seek to do. The technology of warfare does not care. They should automatically have equal opportunity to advance.
The only thing that stops them is when men, protecting their turf, seek to cut their knees out from under them at every turn — or to “show them their place,” sometimes even by inflicting sexual violence, as happens with sobering frequency.
Some conservatives would have you believe that women obtained equal rights long ago. All that remains, they suggest, is some kind of radical feminist movement that, at this point, seeks to erase important distinctions and undermine the family.
Equal pay for equal work still is resisted by many of the powers that be, as are basics like paid maternity leave - and other crucially important accommodations to allow women to be on an equal footing in the workplace.
Women have a high hill left to climb, and plenty of men are standing in the way rather than helping them up.
So women like Wendy Davis and Abby Huntsman — who are redefining feminism for our time, if less subtly than Gloria Steinem did, but these women have fresh fish to fry and are important symbols of this moment.
They are trying to wake men up. Davis knows already that Democratic men are ready to stand with women and listen to the range of their interests and desires. Huntsman wants the Republican Party, her Republican Party, to sensibly get with today, to tune out the extremists who have taken over the party.
We should wish them both the best.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Local Gas Prices