Why are we only taught about feminism from the male perspective? As in, we’re only taught about the women who ‘rose up’ and did what all the men were doing at that time, and somehow that makes them worthy of our attention. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but why is that the perspective in which school systems try to include women into the equation? They’re just saying, some women could do what men did too… as if we didn’t know that already. But really, why do we ignore the other women and the things that they were doing. It may be because the reality of it is ugly, and we don’t want to talk about the harmful ways in which women were and are treated so instead we focus on the ones who became more like men.
I’m reading Petra Kelly’s Fighting for Hope at the moment, and this is what struck up this thought into my head. She discusses how “the masculine ego and capitalist consciousness have made advances in science and technology, they have lost touch with the earth in setting out to conquer nature.”(Kelly, 107) That statement is what got me, I found myself trying to think of women who had contributed to these same advancements and that’s when I realised, none of them had done it from a purely feminist perspective. At that time, and even now, for a women to be respected by men and by society, they need to behave and be seen as a female version of a man. I was happy to see she followed these thoughts with:
“In recent years, I have also observed that some women have sought to overcome their inferior role by becoming part of the masculine world (Mrs. Thatcher, Indira Ghandhi, etc.). When women fight for equal status with men, they run the risk of joining the ranks in times of war.” (Kelly, 107)
Petra Kelly is an eco-feminist, and in Fighting for Hope she’s arguing for women and for peace. Whether or not you agree with what she’s arguing for in terms of peacefulness and energy sources, etc., there’s something fundamentally true about what she says about women. This isn’t a theory, it’s not a philosophical concept, it’s something that was true then and for some reason is still true today. Why don’t people see the harmfulness in this way of thinking? It’s not that I don’t think we should celebrate the achievements of women, but I don’t think we should only celebrate the achievements of the women who emulate men. History teachers will tell you time and time again that there just aren’t any sources on what women are doing and I am here to tell you that this is a lazy answer. If a teacher tells you that, they’re being lazy. There is such an overwhelming amount of evidence as to what women were doing at any time but the thing is, it’s just not interesting. It’s not interesting not because they weren’t doing anything, but because they weren’t contributing in the same way men were. Thus – the only women you learn about are the ones who contributed the same way as men : Cleopatra, Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, etc.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we looked at women in their own right. What would happen if we looked at the thoughts and movements of women and how they were affected by society? Again, people will tell you there are few sources on that. But here we have one – Petra Kelly, though she’s not necessarily focusing on this subject (but kind of she is), she tells us fundamental things about women in this time that are so often forgotten and so, so important to women in modern society. A boy in my lecture told the class that he though one of the drawbacks of Slavenka Drukulic’s How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, another feminist perspective on communism, was that it didn’t give a “broad view of communism and what it was”. The fact that he can sit there and genuinely see that as a drawback is so incredibly frustrating. For those of you who may not understand why this should not be a drawback – there are endless sources on the reality of communism and it’s history, there are very, very few sources on the experience and affect of communism on women. What Drakulic does is offer detail onto a part of communism so often ignored, but it’s a drawback because it doesn’t touch on the other things that every other book on communism does ???????? I get where he’s coming from, but it’s harmful thinking. The fact that a well educated person can’t see this is extremely frustrating to me. It just demonstrates to me how the story of women as a whole is still not viewed as valuable. Unless it’s one strong, masculine woman, then it’s not worthy of our time, or it’s not as valuable as something that includes everyone and everything into the equation. This concept is so ingrained in us in modern society that we don’t even see it.
We need to kill the concept of “bitches get stuff done”. Sorry Tina Fey, you don’t need to be a bitch to get stuff done. You don’t need to emulate masculinity in order to achieve success. People need to get this concept out of their head. I can’t tell you how much this quote has been retweeted onto my timeline and how much it kills me every time. Because it’s not guys retweeting it, it’s girls. It’s smart, educated, progressive women who genuinely hear this and go: YES! And people may argue with me, saying that this is modern society, this is the only way that people will take you seriously enough to get things done. I would counter that if you believe that, then you have already lost. If you believe that there is nothing you can do to change society then you’ve lost. If you think you need to change, to become more masculine in order to be strong or successful, then you’ve lost. I may need to prove to people that I can be both gentle, and kind, and successful. But if that means, that my daughter or your daughter won’t have to, then that’s my burden to bear and I have no problem with it. I will show you that I can be both peaceful and powerful, and you can choose to ignore it and continue to do what society tells you you have to in order to be successful, or you can join me.
GIRLS: You can cry, you can be vulnerable, you can be feminine, you can be gentle and kind and peaceful and anything you want to be, and still be strong and successful. This is not to say that masculine women should not be empowered, it’s to say that all women should be empowered for no reason other than they are successful in whichever way they choose to define success. By all means, if you’re genuinely a masculine women then you’ve got it made. You also shouldn’t feel like you need to be more feminine (but this is another thing you need to be in society: if you’re not super masculine and achieving things, you need to be pretty for boys to look at). This is also not to say that all women are successful and deserve respect, there are shitty people out there, women, men, and everywhere in between. BUT: As a women, you should never feel like you have to behave a certain way, dress a certain way or speak a certain way in order to earn respect. You should never feel like your femininity is what is holding you back from earning respect. People like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler may feel as though they’re spreading wisdom with their ‘Bitches get stuff done, you have to be tough in order to make it’ shit. The reality is, they’re perpetrating the concept that you have to behave like a type A, male CEO with a cholesterol problem in order to be taken seriously. And that’s not wise, it’s harmful. Women shouldn’t have to feel like they need to be that way in order to achieve what they want, they shouldn’t feel like they need to become bitchy or loose their gentleness because that’s what society tells them they need to be in order to get stuff done. Here are some prominent women who are getting it right:
Ellen DeGeneres:’There’s nothing wrong with being fragile. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I think I’m fragile. I’m extremely sensitive. I cry easily.I’m also a very strong woman and I also believe in myself…’
Taylor Swift on Lena Dunham: ‘Powerful women do not have to act masculine or cold in order to get things done. Powerful women can be huggers who name their dog Lamby and make flower crowns in their free time.’
Sidenote: men also shouldn’t feel like they need to be hyper masculine in order to have their voices heard, but in reality, they’re taught about plenty of successful men who don’t fit that mold whereas very, very few women are.
I just thought I would add my thoughts here on my blog, because I know I have a lot of intelligent women following me and I was wondering what your thoughts were on this concept? Hope this wasn’t too ranty and you got something out of it!