It’s hard out here for a feminist

I’ve identified for a feminist for as long as I can remember. Quite honestly, I don’t recall ever being anything else, although for a very short while as a younger kid I was anti-abortion—but then I actually started thinking, and that went away pretty damn fast.

I’ve been trying very hard lately to see things through a feminist lens. Not because it is easy or fun but because I think it is incredibly important. And yet. The more I look, the more horrified I am.

Reading Shakesville has been a huge consciousness-raising exercise for me, especially the posts about rape culture. Now, when I look, I see rape culture everywhere. I see this idea that somehow women are less than men, that somehow women are more disposable.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the recent case of a girl who was gang raped by multiple assailants while as many as twenty other people watched—and did nothing. I have trouble imagining this. What the fuck goes through your head, to think it is okay to watch someone be raped and to say nothing? How is this even possible?

It’s possible because it’s rape culture. Possible because generations of men have become accustomed to the idea of women as sex objects and not much more.

In sex ed, the kids do an exercise where they go through magazines and find all the sexual images they can and make collages. The boys filled five posterboards this year, and they got have done literally hundreds more if we’d had time (and glue). There are just that many images. And how many of them are of men? Very, very few.

And you know what? This pisses me off. It pisses me off that I cannot sit in a waiting room and read outdated magazines without battling body hatred, without some form of disgust that I don’t look like these girls. And do I want to look like them? No! They look like aliens. But. The standard is pretty damn high.

Rape culture is so many things. It’s Ricky Gervais making rape jokes and then being asked to host the Golden Globes (h/t Liss). It’s all the rape jokes that everyone laughs at. I include myself among people who have laughed at these jokes.

But being a feminist who tries to reject these things is really, really fucking hard, and it pisses me off that it’s so hard. It pisses me off that when I watch a commercial or see a movie or read a book or a blog I jump to “that’s an example of rape culture” or “that’s some hard-core sexism.” It’s disgraceful. It’s everywhere. It’s sickening. And I fucking hate having to change my views of some person that I like because they say or do something revolting. I hate that I cannot just like something, without it turning into: does this violate my beliefs in a way that is way too incompatible? And yet I don’t think there’s another way for me to live.

I get accused sometimes of needing to lighten up. Or have a better sense of humor. Because I don’t think sexist jokes are funny. I find them disturbing. I wish our culture had a different way to think about humor that did not involve the constant degradation of women (and people of color, and gay folks, and fat people, and….)

But it comes down to this: I want to live as ethically as I can. And I want the world to be a safe place for whatever future daughters I may have, and right now it isn’t. It isn’t a safe place for a whole hell of a lot of folks, and I don’t think it’s fair to let things slide just for the purpose of letting them slide, just so the world feels more comfortable, until that is different.

Much more on this topic and others coming later. Yay for feminist blogging!


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