… Trump just makes it worse.
I read a sign at a protest that said, “The problem is not that Trump is racist, it’s that his racism wasn’t a deal breaker.”
For myself and many other progressive individuals the deal breakers far surpassed the fact that DT is a racist bigot. On the list of deal breakers became one issue that I’ve recently become very passionate about. I’ve never really considered myself a radical feminist until more recently. I started listening to my own thoughts and feelings after the election and simply realizing where I drew the line and the extent to which I rationalized my opinion. However, it needs to be acknowledged that we most certainly still live in a patriarchal society but NOT because of DT. Although, of course, he does not help the situation…
With all the crazy bullshit going on, I recently made a decision. I woke up one morning and decided that I was going to pay more attention to everyone around me. I decided I was really going to keep my ears open from now on and truly listen to the words that come not from men’s mouths, but women’s as well. I decided that instead of just ignoring the things my male friends or even my boyfriend say, I wasn’t going to let anything slide. That being said, I have been listening… and I am just unbelievably disgusted in the reality that sits right before my very eyes. I could NOT for the life of me fathom how truly sexist and racist everyone around me still is. These people say things as a joke, but I’m sure as shit not finding anything funny about what’s being said.
For the first time in my life, with actually taking the time to realize the language that men (and some women) toss around like it’s nothing, I am realizing, finally, how offended I truly feel and how my feelings are sincerely justified based on the truths that exist in my own society – a country that declared itself the greatest country on earth, but based on what? I sincerely don’t know.
I’m taking a class as Quinnipiac University called Women in Political Thought and the second day of class was based entirely around one simple question – Do we live in a patriarchy?
I pounced on this question. “Where do I even begin?” I thought to myself.
It’s very easy to present the statistics and facts that indicate very clearly our patriarchal status, not just in America, but globally, even to this day. I could easily explain how women are still the most globally oppressed people on earth, how women still make 77 cents on average to every dollar a man makes, how American WOC make 64 cents to every dollar a man makes, Latino women make 56 cents to every dollar a man makes, how less than 4% of the people on the Fortune 500 were women, how 15 millions girls under the age of 18 are forced into marriage worldwide, how female mutilation affects 125 million women worldwide despite the fact that it is recognized as a human rights violation, how American women who served in Iraq were more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be killed by the enemy, how women ages 15-44 on a global scale have a higher risk of being of victim raped than being a victim of cancer, war, or a car accident, how in a female dominated profession, such as nursing, men still make $5,000 more on average per year than women. I could go on, of course.
These unfortunate realities that women face every single day, however, are not what astonish me amidst living in a man’s world. It was the women in it. It became clear to me half way through class that some people are too privileged to understand the patriarchy and what it means. Let me be clear in also saying that this is not their fault. These women simply have not been directly exposed to the inequality that still exists in American society. At least, not yet.
Young girls would raise their hands and say how in some ways we do live in a patriarchy and how on some ways we do not. I have met women who sincerely feel that WE ARE in fact equal and that those who suggest other wise are pushing an exaggerated man-hating agenda. These girls would give examples of women in their lives that they knew who led very successful lives and worked especially hard to get to where they are now.
I was dumbfounded. The point was being misplaced and so I needed to speak up.
Here’s the thing. Acknowledging the existence of the patriarchy does not dismiss any instances of successful female triumph. Feminism is not trying to disregard the success that some women have experienced. If anything we look to those women for guidance, we ask about their journey, their struggle and let them lead by example to offer some inspiration for other women who often feel subordinated in a man’s world. People in class were speaking about women they know personally, but we all know we are talking about the bigger picture. The fact that Oprah herself is a billionaire does not speak for all women on this earth. It speaks for her own experience. Of course there are women who had to work hard to get to where they are but I think that’s exactly the point we, as women, are trying to make, aren’t we? We are not saying we, from the American perspective, live in a society that tries to PREVENT women from being successful, we are saying we live in a society that makes it HARDER for women to be more successful than a man and sometimes people male or female might not even clearly see their discriminatory behavior for what it is. In many cases, a women’s success is still deliberately prevented, sparking the debate on why men are so intimidated by a assertive and powerful women. But that’s a whole other blog…
In conclusion, my teacher told us the name of the class was changed to Women in Political Thought from Feminist Theory so people turned off by the word “feminist” would feel more inclined to take the class. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. It only confirms how easily feminism has been misunderstood and distorted as movement throughout its history and how misunderstood it is right now in the midst of what appears to be a cultural revolution. Changing the name of class to accommodate narrow-minded college students bothered me specifically because women are the very people who can easily be turned off by this word. As we sift our way through a patriarchal society, “Feminism” is a female’s deal breaker.