Archives for posts with tag: feminist

From the beginning of human existence we have wondered how to share power amongst peoples.  As history has developed, we have come to the decision that it is in man’s best interest to develop a democracy, a society where the collective vote of the individual shapes the nature of the government and society.  But the question soon became: who gets to express this vote?

When democracy first began, it was the only the rich males that held any power.  Overtime, however, law and public opinion have decided that every person, no matter their race, religion, creed, or sex could bar them from expressing political power.  To do this, those in power had to distribute the ability for others to join the group; in order for that to work, those in power had to define the characteristics of other people in order that the power bestowed went to the right person.

A key example was when women in the United States were given the same right to vote that men held for many years.  In order to do this, a lawful definition had to be developed to let “women” vote.  While much of society believes that it simply takes a person with an XX chromosome pair to make a woman, there are still many people who don’t take that definition to be entirely fair.  With sexual variants and gender disputes the lines that define a women are more blurred.

Fast forward several years and we see that women continued to fight for lawful and societal equality including equal pay for equal work, abortion rights, and fighting sexism.  Against this entire struggle, a feminist movement arose.  However, for the movement to rise, once again the plight of “women” had to be defined.  Those who took leadership positions thought their opinions were ones that would categorize all women but of course dissent developed.  How can someone express the thoughts and feelings of a people that they think can be boiled down into a singular position?

Thus the tradition of discovering the nature of people continued.  Perhaps it is impossible to categorize people because it is against the nature of people to remain stagnant.  How I feel or who I am today will change.  It may change tomorrow or be a slow, continuous change over time.  To be able to understand my opinion and stance on societal or political issues is possible on a moment’s notice, but to hold to those opinions indefinitely would be irresponsible.  I believe this is the same with all people, and to assume people’s opinions based on general characteristics is irresponsible.

Of course the logical response is to continuously poll people and vote on decisions individually.  However, this will be very complicated due to the sheer number of people; thus, we have developed a represented power system where a group of people is represented by a fewer number.  Those who seek power will tend to take power.  By human nature there are those who wish to dominate and make decisions.  This more “masculine” nature has been associated with men for most of existence, however, this doesn’t mean that only men are able to be dominating; there are also men who don’t hold this personality trait.  Along the same lines, not every woman has a submissive personality—some are driven to dominate as well.  To make things more complicated, people still change and these characteristics will change as well, even on a daily basis.  There are days that, as a “man”, I don’t want to fight, or argue, or debate my position on issues as a person and will take on a more submissive stance on topics or issues that I don’t have either vested interest or energy.  I would be willing to bet that most people can feel the same way.  The bottom line is that every individual is different from other people and even different from themselves as time passes.

–Brian Falatko

Feminist Versus Woman, Cat fight!

Am I psychologically fucked by the stereotypes that society and our culture have cultivated? I asked myself this question as I reflected on Natalie Angier’s “Woman”, particularly, as I grazed the pages of chapter eighteen: Of Hoggamus and Hogwash. Oh, the chapter of love. I’m a feminist, and while this obviously doesn’t mean that I am opposed to love or relationships, I feel like it should have meant that I could read Angier’s piece objectively instead of searching through her words and trying to “read between the lines” of her text in order to find the answers to my failed relationships and subpar love life. I wanted Angier, as a heterosexual feminist speaking about love, to once and for all provide me with the solution to our dichotomized, chauvinistic culture and say, “You know what, reader, you were right. Love is not a social construction, but men and relationships suck; it’s just how it is.”

Also, at times during the text I interpreted Angier’s words and the content of this chapter as if she was going through the same struggle. For example, on page 354, Angier begins her critique of evolutionary psychology by questioning the reader about their feelings about marriage in correlation to the way in which different species bond when she says, “Do you feel like a vole? A macaque? A canary, perhaps? Were you born to bond? Do you know? I surely don’t.” At this point, the voice inside my head as I read was saying, “Oh, Natalie, girl, I feel you’re pain. What’s a feminist to do or feel about marriage?” I felt ridiculous and almost shameful for being educated about common sense notions about gender and still attempting to locate a solid answer to my man-problems in a feminist text. Instead of reading Angier’s brilliant, feminist text, I was reading the opposite: a Cosmo. The reading voice in my head turned from the objective, scholarly voice to the voice of a swooning woman who lives only to find the man of her dreams.

But, before I got too caught up in shaming myself, I had to ask myself, why this was so. I found myself thinking about Simone De Beauvoir’s famous quote, “One is not born a woman, but  becomes a woman”. Taking this quote a step further, I realized that I may have found the epicenter of my conflictions; “Yes, One becomes a woman, but One chooses to be a feminist”.  Being a feminist in our society is extremely multifaceted, not only does one need to sort out their feminist beliefs, but they also may have to leave some common sensical notions behind that society has caused us to internalize. Leaving these stereotypes behind is not always easy because it leaves one with a seemingly blank canvas, which can be quite uncomfortable. I have attributed my abrupt shift in my attitude from objective to subjective during Angier’s piece to this concept of confliction: As a woman I believe that love and marriage are quite desirable, and almost “the way life is supposed go” (in heterosexual time, as Butler describes it), but as a feminist and as a queer theorist I believe that they are not necessary, innate measures and am open to questioning the behaviors of men and women as biological beings, just as Angier.

In conclusion, my initial judgment of myself may have been harsh, but I am definitely not psychologically fucked. Good to know, huh? And maybe the better question to ask  is “Is Psychology fucked? “. I am, however, simultaneously, a by-product of society categorized as “woman”, and a feminist who is attempting to disrupt the norms. It’s really the most infamous cat fight of all.

-Katie Schaffer