Daily Archives: March 20, 2012

The problem is not that I see sexism everywhere, the problem is that you don’t.

This post is part of the March Synchroblog, “All About Eve”. This month’s theme was chosen because March is Women’s History month, International Women’s Day is March 8. and women’s rights have been all over the news recently. The links to the participating blogs and their posts will be listed at the end of this post as they become available.

One of the first things that popped into my head when I thought about this month’s sychroblog theme is the way the word “feminism” has been twisted to represent something bad. Feminism is about (1) women and men being morally, politically, socially and economically equal; and (2) changing patriarchal structures, institutions and perspectives that place women in a position below men. In order to be a feminist one only has to believe in the idea of justice for all people and activism to ensure it. In my opinion, bell hooks is right, Feminism is for EVERYBODY, and yet, feminists are often portrayed as women who are angry, hate men, hate the christian faith and want to rule over men. If you don’t believe me, just start reading articles and posts regarding feminism and/or equal rights for women and you will run across comments like this one that I read this week:

The feminist movement is the same thing it’s always been. A communist hate movement designed to destroy the family, the christian faith and transfer all the wealth and power of individual men to the state with women garnishing privileges above men for their efforts.”

It’s not even unusual to be with a bunch of women (no men in earshot) who will begin a statement with “I’m not trying to be a feminist, but…” when talking about something as basic as the dignity of women. And that really bothers me because I would go so far as to say that feminism isn’t only about the dignity of women but it is about the dignity of all people! Feminism is about men too! It’s also about men getting to be librarians, dancers, nurses and any other occupation that was traditionally thought to be for females only.

Feminism is not about bashing men or going without makeup. The movement is good! Women and men should be proud to be associated with it! If feminism reaches its goals the world will be a better place. I like how bell hooks describes a world in which feminism has achieved its goals:

Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction. Imagine living in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility.”

The greatest accomplishment of those against the feminist movement is that they have turned feminism into an insult and something to be avoided while convincing many women and men that the very people who are their allies are their enemies.

Even those who are sensible enough to not believe the propaganda tend to forget we don’t live in a world where females and males are morally, socially, politically and economically equal.  Many who are sympathetic and understanding about the feminist movement don’t seem to be aware of how much work is left to do when it comes to changing patriarchal structures, systems and perspectives that place women below men.

Look into any field or industry and you will find women under represented, under paid and under valued.  Medicine, engineering, marketing, politics, sports, religion, finance etc – women are mostly absent and when they are present they are typically paid less and valued less.  Men are making most of the decisions in the world – even when it comes to issues that mainly impact women.  And most of us tend to accept this status quo without much thought or resistance!

For the most part, people in the U.S. have been brought up to believe that men and women are wholly equal.  But, no matter how equal we “feel”, women are still the lesser paid, lesser represented, and lesser valued part of the global economic, political and social juggernaut.

Take sports for instance.  Do you ever wonder why there isn’t a women’s pro baseball league? Have you ever noticed that the women’s sports leagues that do exist seem to matter to far fewer people? Have you ever been in a sports bar and noticed that most, if not all, the tvs are tuned into men playing sports?

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not a big “sports” person – the sports industry is just one obvious example.  However, I am a big “justice for all” person and yet I even tend to overlook how much work there is to do. 

Someone said: “The problem is not that I see sexism everywhere – the problem is that you don’t.”

The point is simple – we do not live in a world where women are fully equal with men.  We should, but we don’t. Patriarchy may be more overt, but it is still at work and it works to keep women down. Men and women who care about this injustice need to push back.

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I think this is an important subject that needs to be talked about so here are some questions to get some conversation started (either here or elsewhere):

Tell me if you or someone you know has had a flawed image of what it means to be a feminist. Have you avoided the label? Have you ever been misunderstood because you claimed the label?

Tell me how you think we can “push back” against patriarchal structures, systems and perspectives. Are there organizations that we can support? Are there any everyday practical things we can do? Are there things we are doing that unknowingly prop up patriarchal systems?

Tell me where you’ve seen sexism. Was it something that had gone unnoticed and then became evident?  Do others ever think you are paranoid or too sensitive when you complain about sexism?  Have you ever confronted sexism head on? What impact has sexism had on you?

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Check out these other synchroblog posts:

Michelle Morr Krabill - Why I Love Being a Woman

Marta Layton - The War on Terror and the War on Women

Ellen Haroutounian - March Synchroblog – All About Eve

Jeremy Myers - Women Must Lead the Church

Carol Kuniholm - Rethinking Hupotasso

Wendy McCaig - Fear Letting Junia Fly

Tammy Carter - Pat Summit: Changing the Game & Changing the World

Jeanette Altes - On Being Female

kathy escobar - replacing the f-word with the d-word (no not those ones)

Melody Hanson - Call Me Crazy, But I Talk To Jesus Too

Glenn Hager - Walked Into A Bar

Steve Hayes - St. Christina of Persi

Leah Sophia - March Syncroblog-All About Eve

Liz Dyer - The Problem Is Not That I See Sexism Everywhere…

Sonja Andrews - International Women’s Day

K W Leslie – Undoing the subordination of women

Sonnie Swenston-Forbes – The Women

Christine Sine – It All Begins with Love

Dan Brennan – Ten Women I Want To Honor

Carie Good – The Math of Mr. Cardinal