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21st Century Lesbian Trailer Trash

These are the mad musings of a middle aged woman, dyke, nurse, poet. I have a dog, a cat, a mobile home, and delusions of grandeur.

Location: California, United States

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Feminism & The Average Woman

Jenn, over at Reappropriate, has some interesting thoughts on social issues and academia. To wit, the feminist movement takes place largely in the hallowed halls of academe; thus rendering it inaccessible to the average woman.

What really surprised me was not so much that women of color feel marginalized in general, but that white women feel excluded because of "women of color only space" and that straight women believe that because they are not lesbians they are somehow excluded from the feminist movement.

Let's get a couple of things clear here. White women in general have to accept the fact that while we do not have white male privilege, we do have white person privilege. And straight women have heterosexual privilege.

But that isn't the issue here. The issue is that while we are having the discussion at all, the woman who is raising 3 kids and working at WalMart is completely cut off from the conversation.

Born from our need to legitimize Feminism by way of the academic community, we are leaving those women who might benefit in the dust.

My only solution is to live that old adage to make the personal political and the political personal. The majority of my employees fall into the category of working class woman. To spout feminist theory helps them not at all. But to help them frame their day to day issues within that context plants a seed from which a plant may grow

The feminist movement will continue to go nowhere if we do not share our knowledge with others who will benefit. When I die, I don't want people to say "She was really smart." I want people to say "She helped me in life."


Blogger Jenn said...

great post -- and (obviously) i agree. i guess what bothers me isn't so much an unwillingness to participate coming from those cut off, but a reluctance to "denigrate" the movement by moving it out of academic circles.

there are few feminists like yourself willing to frame feminism for the lay-feminist. too many think that feminism is only about being well-read... the passion of feminism is getting lost.

9:28 AM PDT  
Blogger d said...

I had a discussion about feminism or rather the term "feminist" with a girl at school this year. Basically we were saying what a shame it was that so many women, while aggreeing with many of the principles of feminism, are loathe to call themselves "feminists".
Imagine that huh, 2006 and it's still a dirty word to many women (and men).

Brilliant piece here Pam.

2:16 PM PDT  
Blogger Mocha said...

This was a perfect post, Pam. Not just cuz I wanted to use three P's, either. It was great. Nicely done and made me think a lot about the truth which lies therein. The average woman has no idea what feminism is about - I see this an awful lot and try to do something to further the cause and they look at me like I have a lamp shade on my head.

What to do then?

5:45 PM PDT  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Most women these days don't think they need feminism. That's a big part of the problem.

We live in such a politcally correct time that sexism is cloaked and shadowed. Because it's not as blatant as it used to be, many women don't think it's there. That's why they look at you as if you're wearing a lamp shade.

6:12 PM PDT  
Blogger ~ nellenelle said...

Ah, yer pushing mah buttons...

if there is one huge error we have made, it's letting those who don't much care for anyone bereft of power and equality actually gaining such equality, define who we are and what we stand for.

More than with lgbt issues, the things I see posted on feminists and feminism astounds me. Ask someone if they are a feminist, and you will get funny looks and a quick denial, along with a few thoughts on why.

Ask them what they are for... and you will hear the responses of a feminist in denial.

Go search out the most radical of feminist writing... this is what makes programme's like Rush. And look further within those writings, something controversial will be pulled out and out of context, reshaped into something not necessarily intended, and torn to pieces overair. And millions of listeners think feminists are now out for goddess knows what fool thing has been implied.

Such is what we see show up all too often, ready to tear into us fiesty and radical feminists. And most of the time they end up saying something like (you all are pretty nice and not radical at all.)


It is common sense and decency, after all. We aren't out to take away. We are out to be equal, not to put others down in the process.

7:48 PM PDT  
Blogger El G├╝ero said...

Well said.
That's how I always felt about leftist politics (and I'm a leftie, by the way)...way too academic and too far removed from the day-to-day realities of real people.

11:24 PM PDT  
Blogger KMae said...

In 1969/1970 myself & 4 other women started "Stewardesses For Women's Rights!" Gloria Steinem & Betty Freidan helped us get started (they were wonderful!) We had women from every airline, it was big & we changed a lot, altho' you can never change enough...

Eventually we got men hired & our names were changed to Flight Attendants for 'more respect'...at which point we disbanded & most women went into the union. (not me , I was burned out.)

I really miss those old consciousness raising days of the early movement. I was thrilled when we FINALLY got female pilots only to be shot down (every time, I might add) when they would always declare, "I am not a woman's libber." Stupid bitches. They had NO clue, if it weren't for all us hairy leg, combat boot wearing, stompin' picket sign carrying women screaming for Equal Rights, their lilly white (for the most part) asses would not be in that jumpseat. They are still like that today. And the (closet) lesbians are the worst of all of them. I swear. It is so disheartening.

What a breath of fresh air to read this entry, the comments & even hear women speak of feminism in this day & age now. Believe me, I dont' see it much anymore. I doubt I would even if I went back to academia.

xxoo to all of you.

12:23 AM PDT  
Blogger Ting's Tang said...

Reading the Dance of the Dissident Daughter really opened my eyes to a whole different way to look at feminism. This straight women brought it directly into her home and her life, though it was in more of a religious concept, it was about actually doing something about how we are treated by men.

I definately agree we have to bring the idea to the local and personal level. 8-)


4:19 AM PDT  
Blogger Michelle O'Neil said...

Equal pay for equal work. Equal opportunity. Why is this radical?

5:32 AM PDT  
Blogger NursePam said...

Thanks Jenn. I love sparking ideas off of your posts. You are a particularly thoughtful and insightful young woman.

It is disheartening d, especially for a woman of my generation, to realize that so many younger women think of feminism as a dirty word. I understand how we got here. Now. How do we come back around and go forward?

LOL Mocha! I have a high index of suspicion that it's kind of like using the F word in mixed company. When teaching feminism 101 to young men and women, one must be subversive in the beginning by finding a way to explain it without bringing the actual word into the conversation.

That's a great insight Elizabeth. And it's also startling to think that the extremes of political correctness do not allow us to discuss feminism openly.

Well Nelle. I can see we wound you up here. Keep up the good fight. I simply cannot stomach those message boards. Not the ones in that particular venue at any rate.

ITA el guero!

That is so cool KMae. And your experiences are part of the reason so many women are frustrated today. Those pilots being unable to see that your hard work got them the jobs they ultimately won.

Right on Caly :o)

The equal pay for equal work is no longer considered quite so radical Michelle. But as Elizabeth pointed out, sexism is so cloaked and shadowed that most, or many, simply no longer see it.

8:42 AM PDT  
Blogger KMae said...

And here's another thing....mainly for the hets... MEN have now mastered the feminist lingo (we all bashed them over them head with it for so long) so that now you may think you are speaking with, even attracted to a supportive male feminist (I know, oxymoronism) when in fact, he is just another con artist... saying what you want to hear so he can get what he wants. I don't hate men, but phony people piss me off.

9:12 PM PDT  

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