Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Feminism.

So there’s this song that came out about a year ago by a preppy band called 3OH!3. The hook to the song is “shush girl, shut your lips / do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips.” It’s a super catchy song and, I have to admit, that line never bothered me, but I was shooting the shit with a few of the girls at work – not the super conservative religious republican ones, the girls who aren’t offended by me on a regular basis – and I got the most shocked and offended response from the person I least expected. It stuck with me for two reasons; first, because moments like that help to show me where the line is with people, and now I know where hers is and second, because it was such a surreal reaction that it occurred to me I might be pushing the limits of what even the most liberal people find offensive.

My mom is sort of a lesbian. I’m not really interested in explaining that any more fully – it’s complicated, lengthy and in no way amusing – but it bears repeating because she is thereby inherently a feminist to a certain degree….and by ‘certain degree’ I mean she strikes me as bat-shit insane about 90% of the time. She belongs to a book club that only reads books written by women because they feel that when men write women, they write them the way a man would want a woman to be, not the way that a woman is. She goes to a music festival every year and declares that the most enjoyable experience of her entire life is ‘the sound of a thousand female voices with not a man amongst them.’

This strikes me as nuts, okay people – like clinically, prosecutably insane.

I have no beef with strip clubs and porn stores – and not just for single people, for married ones, dating ones and every iteration between – I couldn’t care any less. I believe in the awesometasticness of high dollar hookers. I’m all kinds of in favor of porn. I point out attractive girls when we’re out in public and have taught my brother and my nephews three very important lessons – if you take video/pictures of your naked teenage girlfriend, don’t distribute them because is a federal crime, don’t sleep with the crazy girl and if you ever hear the word ‘no’ back the fuck away and dont come back with out a signed affidavit. I have friends who are strippers and, single or in another life would absolutely be a total strumpet. I’ve vowed that if Mike ever dies tragically I’m opening a brothel with Courtney and that, once in a while – okay, fine, more often than not it feels amazing to be man-handled a bit.

When I have a home improvement project I have no problem batting my eyelashes, pulling out the little girl voice and leaning over the counter at Home Depot to inspire people to help the vulnerable little thing with the power tools despite the fact that when something breaks in our house I’m the one more adept at handling it. I once convinced an AutoZone employee to not only come out to the car to tell me the make, model and year but also convinced him to install the O2 Sensor for me…in the parking lot…for free….and all it took was a damsel in distress smile. I’ve never moved my own furniture. When we move, I am the designated “door holder and beverage provider,” I seldom carry more than two bags of groceries when we go to the store, I have take the garbage out twice in the last year and cleaned the bathroom once. I work in a call center – 98% of our incoming calls are from men and when things get tough and people get upset, I drag out the little girl voice and start making jokes that hug the inappropriate line so tightly they should be wearing a body stocking and a pink wig because helpless and sexually charged beats angry and screaming any day of the week.

I am a very lucky, very spoiled girl and I am aware of that, but here’s the thing – I get that most feminists think I am one of those people setting the movement back by decades every time I pull out the flighty cocktease routine and I’m well aware that almost every man I’ve ever had in my life since the age of 13 has, at some point, said “God I wish you had a sister. Please tell me you at least have similar friends,” – I just don’t care.

Very much like my take on racism, my feeling on the feminist movement is thus – I think we have progressed past the point where I need to consider myself part of the persecuted sex. If anything, women have more choices than men. I can decide to become a powerhouse in business, or to stay home and take care of kids or to be single and happy. With the exception of my grandmother and my quasi-mother-in-law, I don’t feel pressured into marriage or kids or career. I know that I could be whatever I wanted to be – including the president – if it struck me as such. Are there people I would have difficulty getting past? Of course. I work in a company with no female executives because they have a hard time penetrating the good ol’ boys club. Thing is, they have a hard time with that because it’s not a club for the kind of person they are, not because they’re female. The good ol’ boys club loves me, because I like strippers and scotch and witty sexual repartee.

So tell me ladies, who has the problem here?

What brought all of this up is actually NaNoWriMo. I started this year with nothing but two characters and no concept of a plot or where the story was going. 30,000 words into it, I can tell you it’s going no where good. It’s 50K in a month and I had no plot. It was never going to go anywhere good and the text itself won’t be something I ever take pride in, but what I can be proud of is the fact that I did it – that I did something in a month most people won’t do in a lifetime and that part is kind of cool. Think of it as a literary wedding cake.

Last night, Mike and I were talking about it because I hit a big milestone, making 30K of original fiction. That’s a line I’ve never crossed before and it’s kind of cool. Nonetheless, we were discussing the fact that is donating a paperback proof copy of your novel to nano winners, which is sort of awesome and its something I wlll probably claim. Mike offered to let me hide it somewhere and I told him that wasn’t necessary, I wouldn’t mind having it on the bookshelf where we, you know, keep the books as long as we all promised to keep the same rule we always had – ‘don’t read it. And if you do, just don’t tell me, m’kay?’ He suggested that might not be the best idea since everyone who comes into our house likes to scrutinize the bookshelves and then I’d have to explain something I didn’t want to explain and my uber religious grandmother and my super feminist mother would both try to have me committed upon reading it.

Here’s the thing, the opening scene involves a two thirty am visit that is followed up with partial nudity and a half a bottle of tequila. Remarkably, the scene ends with no pre-marital sex but I don’t think either of them would see it that way…and if they made it past that page they’d find more drinking, more inappropriate sexual repartee and at least three examples of sex that they would consider violent, degrading and offensive. Worst part is, all I’m talking about are a few instances of pinning someone to a wall…its about as vanilla as it gets :) Yet, there I was getting twisted into knots knowing that they would invariably want to read what I'd written or know about NaNo and I would have to explain it to them - that I would have to apologize for not having a compelling urge to 'protect the gender.'

I guess, and forgive me for being pedantic, but I feel as though the feminist movement of today passes judgement on my lifestyle just as much as the bra burners of the sixties abhored the women who still wanted to stay home and raise children and - frankly, I'm fucking sick of it.  The whole point of the feminist movement is and was to give women choices - to protect us from being boxed into the pre-ordained life society set forward for us, but now that we have those choices, we're being told which ones to take by the very people that purport to be protecting them.  I appreciate that I grow up in a time when I have the freedom to choose to be and do anything I want and I in no way rail against the women that got me here - who took jobs and got divorces and refused to have children and demanded rights and freedoms through the generations so that I could make my own choices for myself.  And I'm sorry if you disagree with my choices - it's a real bummer that your boyfriend's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates when I said I like strip clubs and wish I could sit down and have a two hour conversation with a hooker, but thats between you and him.

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