Activity Being Avoided: washing dishes, scooping the catbox
Music In My Head: Songbird – Fleetwood Mac
Tea Being Drunk: cranberry and fennel
Book Being Read: Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf
A student of mine is doing her degree in Women’s Studies. At the beginning of the year, as her professors piled on the Friedan and the Steinem and the Walker, she discovered a movement she’d never been actively exposed to before. She was enthralled; thus, in the spirit of True Adolescence, she assumed I was also enthralled.
Student: You’re a Feminist, right?
Student: I said Feminist.
Me: I heard you. No, I’m not a Feminist.
I’m not. I believe Feminism had its purposes during the first and second wave, but the third wave is a waste of time and anything more is going to be detrimental. Though in some places it may only be on the books, women have equality. It’s illegal to discriminate based on gender. We have what we wanted. Now, it’s time for something different.
If you clean the same room every day, that room may be perfect but the rest of your house is going to be condemned.
Feminism is segregation. It separates the genders, isolates one group, concentrates on the differences. What the world—this world of internet and airplanes—needs is to concentrate on the similarities.
I don’t need to view Anne Fausto-Sterling’s theory of five genders as a theory: even if I didn’t accept, say, the genders of the Buginese or the native traditions of berdache, etc. (which I do), I see multiple genders in practice every day, both in the LGBTQ universe and in the behaviour of people I spend time with. Some days, Student X is all femme, with pink and light purple everything, and an obsession with the infallible Justin Bieber; some days, Student X is staunch and dark, showing no sign of vulnerability. I think the problem with the five-gender idea is that we’re soon going to find out that five genders is just as discriminatory as, say, a five-race theory. (Good luck convincing everyone in the world that they’re either black, brown, red, white or yellow. I, for one, prefer to describe myself as E.M. Forster did: pinko-grey.)
Feminism demands that boys feel ashamed of their masculinity. Feminism demands that everyone feel ashamed of their masculine traits, apologise for their masculine behaviour—even if they’re cis female.
The flip side of Feminism is that girls are told that they have all the power and boys are just being told that they come from a long line of evil; girls can now explore their gender and sexuality but boys can’t. This leaves the boys to learn about sex from Hollywood and porn because no one wants to venture into that wilderness of masculine sexuality. The April 2014 issue of The Walrus (sadly not up on their website at the moment; it’s worth buying a copy) has a Rachel Giese article about teaching sex to boys. Thankfully, Stafford Perry of WiseGuyz is teaching the boys that “Being a man exists on a scale, so it’s not either/or. You don’t have to be one or the other”.
When my student asked what I was–if not a Feminist–I decided that “humanist” was the only response. I’m well-aware that the word has other religious/spiritual/philosophical connotations, but I’m okay with those. Humanism is, from where I stand, the only way to make sure all the rooms in the house get properly cleaned.
Just as I won’t judge someone based on their economic standing or their skin colour, I’m not going to judge someone based on gender. So Feminism is off the table because that means I have to judge someone’s gender in order to assess their rights as a human being.
Forget that. If it’s a situation where I get to assess your human rights, it’ll be based on something far more creative and fickle than your gender, I assure you.