Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

image

Nope.

I had high hopes for this one – I follow Jessica Valenti on Twitter and usually really like the links and comments that she tweets. But… now part of me wants to unfollow her, because she did not come off well in this book. Actually, the more I think about this book, the angrier it makes me.

Alright, let’s start with the things I liked about this book. (There weren’t many.) I appreciate that she touched on a lot of issues that I think are important – pay inequality, violence against women/rape, and birth control rights. I’m glad that every now and then she mentioned the struggle against racism and homophobia as well, and how they tie-in to feminist causes. Occasionally, she made me laugh.

And that’s about it.

Now, I have a list of complaints a mile long… but I’ll try to not mention them all.

  • She talks in a casual, curse-filled language designed to pander to teenagers and if I was a teenager, I think I would’ve been insulted that she felt the need to dumb herself down to get through to me. It was bad. Especially when she complains about some women’s right organization doing the exact same thing.
  • She claims that young women can take the power out of words like “slut” and “cunt” and make them our own. Are you fucking kidding me? NO. Just no. This is the same argument that some users of the n-word use, and guess what? It hasn’t worked. These are words designed to be insults, to be hurtful. It will never be the norm to walk up to your friend and say “Hi, slut!” and it be a good thing. At best it’s tacky and ignorant. These are words that we should be trying to discourage and erase from our language competely.
  • She says things like “Never date a Republican!” several times throughout the book. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t like Republican politicians. But we all have varying degrees of political leanings, and by saying crap like that she’s insulting any young Republican-minded girls who might be reading this book. Feminism is not just for Democrats. You should be trying to expand women’s rights to everyone, not everyone-except-Republicans. They’re roughly half the population – we can’t make much more legal progress without working together.
  • In the chapter about dating and marriage… “Hyphenate, bitch! Or do something, anything, but change your last name.” Dude, screw you. You’ve spent SO much of this book encouraging women to make decisions for themselves instead of the reasons man and society has given you, but then you just start telling women what to do? I’ll change my last name if I want to. This is not a feminist decision, it’s a personal one.
  • She touches on vaginal rejuvenation surgery and how it’s horrible and women are being pressured into it because of porn. Plastic surgery is not a feminist issue. This is a “some people are really goddamn stupid” issue.
  • She repeatedly implies that women who don’t work really DO want to, they’ve just been fooled into thinking they don’t want to. Just like the men she’s criticizing, she implies that there’s no way you could’ve possibly come to that decision on your own.
  • I’m disturbed that the author spent a whole chapter on the subject of rape and violence against women without encouraging those women to take self-defense classes, carry pepper spray, or (for women who are responsible enough) a gun. Why wouldn’t you encourage women to defend themselves? She spends a whole lot of time complaining about the culture we live in that allows things like rape to happen, but until society completely does a 180 and it’s not a concern anymore, for the love of god, protect yourself. Don’t leave yourself completely defenseless. Take precautions, and a lot of them. All the info and stats about violence against women was nice, but some tips on being safer and defending yourself would have been better.
  • She definitely insists that the reader should try running for office, to get more women into politics. (Page 245 – “Run for office. Seriously, do it.”) Hmmmm, I have haven’t seen her campaign posters yet…

I swear, I could go on and on.

Here’s my problem with what feminism seems to mean these days. It seems that  these feminist books focus on how men and society are tricking you into shaving your legs, wearing mascara, and changing your name. Instead, these books should be focusing on serious legal issues like pay equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women and what could actually be done to tackle these things. Even if all of the females of the world woke up one day and decided to stop getting bikini waxes just to spite the men, nothing of any importance would change. We would still be underpaid, attacked, and struggling for the right to control our own reproductive systems. The author laments the fact that more young women don’t identify themselves as feminist and that this book is to try to appeal to them – maybe that’s why. Young girls aren’t stupid. They know when they’re being talked down to, and when a book is trying to use superficial topics to lure them to a cause. They know when the important stuff is being overlooked. I’m wondering if I should start seeking out older feminist books like The Feminine Mystique or A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and I’m sure they’re great books. But they’re also so old that they’re really not relevant to our current situation. Are there really no modern-day feminist books that focus on the serious issues?

A friend of the honeyman’s recently saw this book sitting on the table and asked about it, and he said he considered himself an “equalist”. I approve of this term more. I think that back in the earlier 1900’s I would’ve been a feminist – fighting for voting rights and to be able to work if I want to. I’m absolutely anti-sexism. But it seems I can’t find a modern-day feminism book that focuses on the real problems. They’re more focused on whining about skinny models, make-up, and Girls Gone Wild. If you want to write a book about how those things relate to self-esteem, awesome. But don’t smack “feminism” on the front of the book.

The more I think about it, “equalist” pretty much sums up everything that I want. I want to be paid the same amount as a man doing the same job. I want the same career opportunities open to me. I want to not be subjected to violence, and if I am I want laws in place that won’t criminalize me for defending myself. I want to be able to buy birth control as easily as men can buy condoms, and to get an abortion if I need one without some law or man standing in my way.

What I do NOT want from feminist authors like Jessica Valenti is being told that I’m stupid if I change my last name when I get married. I don’t want to be put down or told I’m being tricked into thinking that I don’t want to work. I don’t want to be told that I can wear mascara, as long as I know I’m adhering to some narrow, male view of what beauty is. No, I just want to fucking wear mascara because I like it. And if I ever meet her and she tries to call me “slut” in a friendly, women-can-make-it-mean-something-good way, I will lose. my. shit.

Can anyone recommend a (relatively modern) book about women’s rights that’s more along the lines I’m thinking of?

 

Sarah Says: 1.5 stars

Advertisements

35 comments

  1. WOW! you’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to why ‘new’ Feminism hurt more than it helps. While I understand that she is trying to say, when we use words we give them power and certain words don’t need any power at all and therefore mustn’t be used at all. I’ll be using Equalist to describe myself from now on and I’ll be avoided this book, yowch I don’t need any more of that nor do I need to be sending this kind of message to my students who might read it. Thanks! 🙂

    Like

    1. Aww, thank you! Honestly I’m expecting kind of a lot of backlash from this review, so your comment just made me really happy 🙂

      Yeah, “new feminism” is a good way to describe these books that I’m seeing now. It’s changed so much from what it used to be.

      Like

  2. Grrrr. I changed my name. Because hyphenating would have made my initials KKK. Is there a crime in a. not wanting to have your initials reference one of the ugliest hate groups of all time and b. being sick of people mispronouncing your last name and trading up to one with half the letters? No. No there is not. My name, my choice!

    Like

    1. Exactly. I don’t care if women keep their name, change their name, make the husband change his name, hyphenate… whatever. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a personal choice. Personally, when I eventually get married I’m going to make my last name a second middle name, and change my last name to my husband’s. That way I’ll go by his name (which I have no issue with), but my name will still be in there legally.

      Also I was thinking about the hyphenating thing, and let’s pretend that’s what all women decide to do, and that’s how they name their kids. So we’ll pretend that I hyphenate my name to Smith-Jackson, and that’s the name I give my hypothetical kids. And then my daughter gets married, and she hyphenates again, and she becomes Smith-Jackson-Stephanopolus. And then HER daughter does the same, and becomes Smith-Jackson-Stephanopolus-Davis. Hyphenating sounds like a nice idea, but for the purpose of those poor kids, where does it end?

      Like

  3. Oh man!! I love this entire review so much that I want to HUG IT. Certain things are important. Certain things aren’t. Let’s pick our battles ladies, ya know? Equal pay is something I find worth fighting for. Shaving my legs? Meh, I don’t care.

    I love the term equalist. That’s great!

    Something that makes me BONKERS is when I’m told HOW to be a feminist. Isn’t that counter-productive?? I don’t want to be TOLD how to be, act, dress, or what name to go by. Screw that. Being equal means doing whatever the hell you want and not being judged by it.

    I shave my pits, I didn’t hyphenate my name. I happen to like mascara and lip gloss. That doesn’t make me less of a believer in equal rights.

    Sigh.

    Like

    1. I am SO relieved that I’m getting these positive comments! Not that I’m not expecting some angry ones too. But you just made me SMILE!

      Pick our battles – YES! And a whole lot of these things that you can’t necessarily fight legally, or just completely change the culture we’re in. We can take proactive steps in the government towards birth control rights and equal pay. When we waste our energy whining about how many skinny models are used in magazines, it gets old and it doesn’t fix anything. (I totally think there should be healthier models in magazines, but guess what? I just don’t buy them.)

      Like

    2. Yes, I like what you said about being told how to be a feminist or even how to be a woman which was the name of that other “feminist” book everyone was reading a short time ago. I’m all for personal freedom and making your own choices and having the freedom to do that. I get irritated when people say there’s a “right” way to be a woman or that you’re only a woman after you do XYZ like get married or have kids. There are so many diverse women and they are all women in their own unique way!

      Like

  4. Ugh, how disappointing. I follow Valenti on Twitter too and have flirted with the idea of reading her book, but I can definitively say nope after reading your review. In fact, just your review made me twitchy. There are positive ways to try to solve issues without resorting to self-righteous preaching and judging, and I don’t need that kind of negativity directed at the choices I make. On the positive side, though, I could totally get behind the term equalist.

    Like

    1. Yeah… I didn’t expect this book to be so judge-y. I’m really disappointed because I wanted to read some of her other books too, but now… I don’t know. I doubt it.

      I like “equalist” because it can be applied to EVERYTHING – equal rights for women, all the races, all sexual orientations, all religions, etc. Kudos to my boyfriend’s friend, I don’t know if he came up with it or heard it elsewhere, but I like it.

      Like

  5. Wow, sounds pretty bad. I wish I could recommend you a good book but I don’t know of any. It’s books like this that made me stop reading books about feminism and make me not want to identify as a feminist. I like the term equalist too because I feel like feminists tend to attack men and make them the enemy and I don’t think that’s the solution. Instead we can work together and have respect for one another and it will improve things for everyone. So yeah, not much help here in recommending a good book as I’ve pretty much stopped reading thins on this topic.

    Like

    1. I’m getting a little discouraged myself… but part of me wants to keep searching for the kind of book I’m thinking of, you know? I just want to believe that one exists… lol. I just think that this “new feminism” is too nitpicky… we shouldn’t be wasting our time complaining about how we feel pressured to wear make-up (although I don’t) and how men don’t do enough of the housework. Those are things women need to address themselves, in their own relationships and identities. Let’s focus on the important stuff!

      Like

  6. I still can’t wait to read this, to see if I agree with you. I do think vaginal reconstruction surgery and porn are linked, but agree that plastic surgery is an issue for all people.
    And I do regularly use the word cunt. Believe it or not, it is a term of endearment in my husbands family and is used to refer to people of both genders. I’ve become desensitised to it!

    Like

    1. The desire for some women to get elective vaginal surgery MIGHT be rooted in how they see porn… but I think it speaks more to their own low self-esteem and mental issues. Addressing self-esteem in young women is important, absolutely, but I don’t know… don’t slap “feminism” on it, you know? Those are two separate things.

      I was uncomfortable even TYPING the c-word. And it’s cool if you use it within your family and it’s just kind of a thing… but you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and say it, right? Cause out of the context of your family circle, it’d be weird… and I can imagine some people getting upset, lol. I definitely don’t think it’s a word that women should “reclaim and make their own”. Just… ahh. No.

      Like

  7. Sarah! I am here as promised! Let’s DO THIS.

    Ok, the cunt thing is an interesting one because I totally used to use it as just a general, thing to call people (before I moved back home because my mum HATES it) BECAUSE the origins of the word are allll to do with female power and stuff and I think that’s really cool and I don’t think reclaiming it is the same as the n-word (which I HATE) because that never really had positive connotations.

    Fair enough with the Republican thing. But since Republicans are basically continually the party that try to take away women’s rights, I think it’s fair enough to be wary of them!

    The name changing thing… I dunno dude. I feel like it IS a feminist issue because it’s not something that men ever have to consider because nobody ever expects them to change THEIR names. I mean, I’m kind of like ‘well, it’s just a name, it doesn’t MEAN anything’, which is true, but at the same time, women are basically the only ones giving up theirs? That… doesn’t sound so equal.

    Plastic surgery IS a feminist issue, because again, it’s mostly women who are doing it because society demands that women be ‘perfect’ (whatever that means) or that they basically nothing. I mean, I agree that people who have it (cosmetically) are basically really stupid, but WHY have they come to believe it’s the only way they can be happy, you know?

    Oh MAN, your rape thing. You and your weapons, dude! I mean, yeah women should protect themselves however they can, but including that kind of information in your book when you’re talking about it is pretty much like blaming women who have got raped for NOT doing those things, AND wold put all the responsibility on women to stop themselves getting raped, rather than saying ‘this really should not be happening and we should stop the rapists rather than blaming the victim’.

    I agree (WOAH!) that the legal things are TOTALLY important, and that yeah, if the superficial things changed but the legal things didn’t then nothing would actually change, BUT I think a lot of laws are in place now and when they try to change them (like in Texas, and Ohio) people flip the FUCK out- and rightly. But there are still the things culturally that haven’t changed and THOSE are also important to women’s feelings of self-worth and her place in the world, and like, what’s the point of having laws allowing women to be doctors and soldiers and stuff if girls just want to grow up to be models/desirable, which is all society teaches them they should be?

    AND (this comment is so much longer than it should be, I’m sorry!) dude, feminism IS about equality. If there’s one thing I can’t deal with, it’s people going ‘I’m not a feminist because I don’t hate men’ and I’m like ‘EJBFKSEBFKHJNDFKNEASd That is SO missing the point’ because it’s just about being on an even keel with men! Equality for everyone! (so basically I agree with you, only I just don’t think we need a word like ‘equalist’ because feminism does just fine!)

    Anyway. I still like you and I don’t mind at all if you wear mascara because I am a good and non-judgy feminist, in that way. (Also I agree that makeup and bikini waxes aren’t so important. Because yeah, they’re totally not). Also I’m going to stop now because OMG apparently I can’t shut up!

    Like

    1. AWESOME.

      The c-word might be different among countries then? Here, I’ve only ever heard it used in a horrible, offensive way and it’s definitely not commonly used. Like, someone says it and they might get slapped. It’s one of the very few words left that is considered really crass and horrible. Still, I think that generally words like that and slut should be NOT encouraged, you know?

      Republicans are totally the party that for some reason is so anti-women… BUT. I do know and am friends with Republicans who are very pro-women’s rights and feminism. But they have it in their heads that our rights are already guaranteed or established, so they vote Repub for other reasons. I don’t think putting young Republican women down like this author did is a way to try to encourage them to be feminists.

      The name changing thing isn’t a feminist issue because at least in the U.S. and most other first-world countries, I suppose, it’s not mandatory. It’s not a battle we really have to fight. No one is forcing women to change their names to their husband’s now, it’s just a tradition. They might catch a little heat from family members or something for choosing to keep their own name, but they can handle it. And I think a lot of women DO question it and think about it before deciding. Kind of the same with plastic surgery. No one is forcing these women to get plastic surgery, and we can’t put ALL of the blame on society. In general, people tend to look down on people who get purely elective, cosmetic surgery. And for as many women as there are that do get plastic surgery, there are SO many more who don’t. Those women… they have serious personal issues.

      The rape thing – I absolutely put NO blame on women if they don’t carry a weapon. No matter what, NO woman deserves or asked for it. I’m just all for being pro-active. Why aren’t we encouraging more women to take self-defense classes? We should be making this a standard part of gym classes! If me taking self-defense classes or carrying a knife means that if/when I’m attacked that I can disable the attacker, get away, and call the police? That’s ONLY a good thing. It could mean me NOT being sexually violated, and it might result in the attacker getting jail time or branded a sex offender. If anything, the fact that society discourages young girls from taking self-defense classes is the sexist issue here. Just because we’re women, we shouldn’t know how to fight back? Screw that. Rape is a culture issue and should be addressed as such, but how do we go about “stopping the rapists”? They can’t be stopped until the crime is already happening, and why would we encourage women to be helpless in that situation?

      I just… I feel like feminism used to be about equality, but then it warped into this “blame all of our issues on the men and society” thing… and that’s just not it. And I feel when equal pay is actually established and until our birth control rights are secure and violence against women starts to decline, those self-esteem issues can be talked and fought all we want. But they’re personal issues each woman has to confront at some point. The legal battles are something we could actually be doing something about now and they effect ALL women.

      I love our debates 🙂 🙂

      Like

      1. I was going to write a comment but it’s pretty much the same thing that Laura wrote. I agree that deciding to change your name or not with marriage is a personal choice, but there is a feminist issue there considering guys pretty much ever ever have to consider this.

        Also I’m sorry but I sorta loooooove the word cunt, though I know some people really hate it. And I do think there is the ability to reclaim the word.

        Like

      2. I can see where the feminist issue with name-changing originated from, but it’s not really a problem now. Men never had to consider it, but you know… now they can! The woman just has to bring it up. This is a thing that women (and men) can sort out for themselves, but it’s not something we have to rally behind and battle with to change. I guess that my issue with these books is how much they focus on things like this that are just personal matters, rather than the legal issues we ALL face. Caitlin Moran and Jessica Valenti both bemoaned the fact that more young women don’t identify as feminists, and this might be the issue – because so many of them don’t care about all that stuff. I just cannot get myself all worked up about Maxim magazines or the fact that Treland has never had to think about changing his last name. None of us are going to head to the polls just to outlaw make-up or plastic surgery or Playboy. It’s been discussed to death, but when it comes down to it they’re all things that each individual woman can deal with on her own.

        I just… I can’t imagine a positive use for the c-word. Is it something you use in like a friendly or joking way, or do you just like it as a curse or insult? I’m so mystified by this! Lol.

        Like

      3. Cunt totally isn’t different over here, it’s just that I like to use it I guess kind of because of the reclaiming the word thing? The thing is, I think sitting around and waiting to wince when someone says it gives the word a power over you, whereas using it (or at least not being disgusted by it if someone else uses it) gives you power over it. POWER!!

        I kind of get the author putting down young Republican women though. Because feminism is all about equality and inclusion (in, like, ALL THE WAYS) and nothing that the Republican party stands for has anything to do with any of that. But then I don’t ever understand why anyone is right wing ever, so yeah.

        It’s fair enough that it’s not mandatory to take your husband’s name (and by fair enough I mean that is ABSOLUTELY the way things should be) BUT it’s something that women are EXCLUSIVELY (pretty much) supposed to decide on, and it’s pretty much expected that they will take the dude’s name (hence the ‘catching the heat from family’ thing). And yeah, it’s ‘tradition’ but tradition is based on the subjugation of women to men! So yeah. I don’t necessarily think it’s THAT important an issue, but symbolically it’s like a huge sign in lights ‘THE PATRIARCHY IS STILL HERE’.

        Oh, dude, if I made it sound like YOU thought that women are ever to blame for rape then I totally didn’t mean to because I know you don’t think that! But here’s this thing: ‘how do we go about “stopping the rapists”? They can’t be stopped until the crime is already happening, and why would we encourage women to be helpless in that situation?’ They absolutely CAN be stopped before the crime is happening by being taught to respect women and just generally to not-rape, which is totally something that doesn’t really happen. But also, not discussing self-defence techniques isn’t the same as encouraging women to be helpless! No one is saying ‘just lay there because you can’t do anything’ AT ALL.

        And yeaaaaah, I still feel like the society issues are equally as important because what if women don’t care about any of the legal things because all they want is to find some dude to buy them pretty things and to look perfect at all times and stuff? And violence against women is, again, a societal thing, and I mean, of COURSE there should be harsher laws and better protection for victims, but how about stopping it at its beginning points, i.e. in teaching respect for women? Because reaaaaally VAW is all about treating women like possessions instead of people which is SO not the way to go.

        Like

      4. Alright, I’m back from my Breaking Bad spree…

        I don’t know… I don’t really agree with that argument about words and their “power”. Because if you replace the c-word with the n-word, just NO. Nope. No possible reason someone should ever use it. The c-word is obviously maybe less serious because it doesn’t have a completely horrible historical context, but it’s still one that just doesn’t really sit right with me. And maybe this is a personal experience thing though – it seems that the more people hear it, the less it bothers them?

        The Republican party is just… ugh. BUT. If you want to spread this feminism thing to all the women, you can’t discount them because of their politics. Her general message of intolerance towards people with political opinions different than hers really annoyed me. Because if we can’t approach the other side with respect, how do we ever expect to compromise and maybe get them to come around to a different way of thinking once in a while?

        The name-changing thing does have a sexist background, but I think that since we’ve moved past that (at least in our cultures, not sure about other parts of the world), then I don’t see it as something to put on the feminism poster board. It’s kind of like couples that when they get into a fight they bring up every bad thing the other person has ever done and use it against them. Bringing up the name-changing thing after it’s something we don’t really have to worry about anymore and that the majority of women aren’t worrying themselves about just sounds like whining, and it distracts from more important things.

        With the violence against women thing – I can’t quote it because I already returned the book to the library, but there was a part when she was mentioning how unfair it was that women have to walk around always thinking about taking the safe way home and avoiding bad areas, and she said something that seemed to translate to her saying that women shouldn’t have to do that… and yeah. It came off as encouraging women to ignore possible dangerous situations, because they shouldn’t have to. So not only was she not encouraging any sort of self-defense, she was kind of hinting that you shouldn’t even try to avoid the possibility of being attacked. She WAS kind of encouraging helplessness. And I agree that as a society we should be teaching men NOT to attack and/or rape women, but that’s not a very concrete goal. Parents and schools can try to raise their kids right and hopefully that message will stick with them, and we can try making the punishment for those things more severe. But… well, there’s likely to always be people who slip through the cracks, because some people are just messed up. Since that danger isn’t likely to ever go away completely, trying to prepare to defend yourself seems the more practical and smart thing a girl can do. Cause you just never know.

        I guess this is probably where you and me really differ here though – the societal, self-esteem issues versus the legal issues in feminism. I don’t think feminism should constantly talk about those other things. Partly because respect for yourself and good self-esteem are issues for BOTH genders. Partly because we can talk about how society should change, but if I really wanted to rally behind that then how could I watch something like True Blood in good conscience? Shows like that must do a number on the men and women who watch it that have confidence and body-image problems. While I don’t think the media and magazines should show so many skinny women and men with six-packs… I just don’t care enough to censor everything I watch and read. And partly because when feminist leaders and authors focus on self-esteem and body-image stuff constantly, they’re kind of leaving women like me bored and uninterested. I already have good confidence and a healthy body image. I know my worth and am willing to stand up for myself. And I can’t be the only women who feel the same. So when feminists are preaching all that other stuff… that’s nice, but what about us? I’m done with worrying about whether boys like me or not, I want to focus on securing my birth control rights!

        And I guess that’s my main issue with this “new feminism”. Self-esteem/society standards and women’s rights might be related in some ways, but they ARE two separate issues. If feminism now means constantly talking about how evil magazines and models are and STILL complaining about how women used to have to change their names, I’m not interested. I’ve moved onto ACTUAL equality battles that we still have to fight.

        Like

      5. I really hate the word cunt. But it’s mostly because here in Australia it is used so frequently and usually between gutter-dwelling miscreants as a replacement for the word um. It’s got nothing to do with the history of the word or what it stands for blah blah blah, and everything to do with me disliking those people. Cunty, however, is the perfect way to describe people’s shitty behaviour.

        Like

    2. Oh, and I wanted to say something about the republican thing. I’m completely left leaning (interesting note, our republican party is known as the liberal party here in Aus) but there is a whole lot of misinformation about what republicans stand for. Republicanism traditionally means being in favour of small government, i.e. less government control. This actually lends itself to more of a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion agenda, while also involving being pro-guns. They don’t want a government dictating what they can do, how they can do it, and what they spend their money is. There are issues tied up to this which is why right wing attitudes don’t often work in a democracy (and let’s not forget that technically America is a republic, not a democracy) least of all being that I think we have a social obligation to help our neighbour if we can. BUT, the biggest problem with republicanism in America is that it is tied to Christianity, and because so many people misunderstand or just blatantly misuse Christianity as a way to allow their bigotry, republicanism has now come to stand for Christian ideals which would actually involve MORE government control, not less.

      In America the republican party is dictated to by the Christian lobbyists. It’s where they get a lot of their money to campaign, and their voter base is. In Australia it’s BOTH parties, we had an unmarried left-wing female prime minister who wouldn’t comment on gay marriage because if she did that was a huge slice of the voter pie she would be eliminating. One of her top front-benchers was a gay woman, who had to toe the party line because our prime minister was too worried to risk losing the next vote to make the logical and RIGHT choice. That’s the real issue.

      And this is about to turn into a really long rant about lobby groups and pandering to votes and I’m just really frustrated because politics in Australia SUCK and we have an election coming up and I’ve been watching a lot of the West Wing and *takes breath* I’m going to stop now!

      Like

      1. Dude, don’t feel bad. That shit IS frustrating. And politics suck everywhere! I genuinely don’t understand how our Republican party can claim to be for smaller government, and then demand to be all up in people’s lives about who they marry and reproductive decisions. Makes zero sense.

        The thing is that no matter who you vote for, lobbyists are freaking EVERYWHERE and it seems that there’s no escaping them. Every election, we end up with a politician on both sides who won’t say where they stand on some issue or other because they don’t want to lose voters, and it just sucks.

        And yeah, the Republican party here has turned into the Christian-values party (gag) and the “patriotic” party. Somehow Republicans think that patriotism means America can be as big of an asshole as it wants to be without ever having to work together, compromise, or apologize to anyone ever. We have a married couple that we’re really close friends with, and they’re Republican. And I just don’t get it, because in most societal issues, they lean the other way – they’re okay with gay marriage, equal rights for women/everybody, legalizing weed, etc. But for some reason they see the Republican party as the best one because that’s the party of war and because they equate Democrats with socialism and ACK!!! It just all makes no sense. Getting into debates with them around election-time is always really interesting 🙂 and at the very least, speaks to how awesome our friendship really is because we can differ SO MUCH on issues like that, but still discuss and disagree with each other respectfully.

        Like

  8. I have a lot, a lot to say on this subject, but I’ll avoid clogging your comment space so I’ll just make a few points (I’ll try to keep it brief):

    1. Equalist. Equalist, equalist, equalist.
    2. The problem with Valenti’s brand of feminism is that it takes one set of social rules and replaces them with another. Hers are not necessarily better. They often entirely miss the point. It’s this type of narrow-minded, oblivion and ignorance that actually turns young people (men and women) away from the concept of feminism and feminist ideas, even when by any other measure they would definitely identify with the core ideas.
    3. Feminism is built in large part on choice. It means that both men and women can choose to change their names. Both men and women can choose to stay at home and raise their children (assuming their financial situation enables it). Women can make the choices that they feel comfortable with, hopefully without any kind of negative external social pressure (like with plastic surgery, for example). But even if they make a bad choice… it’s their bad choice…

    As for a modern book about women’s rights, I haven’t finished reading it yet (though I really doubt it could go downhill so dramatically in the half I have left…) and it’s not really about feminism, but Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In does raise a lot of interesting points. It’s a lot more about business and women in the workplace and that sort of equality, but it’s very, very interesting in terms of its statistics and data and observations. Again, the main point isn’t really feminism, but it has its fair share of it… I personally was riveted by the first half.

    Like

    1. “2. The problem with Valenti’s brand of feminism is that it takes one set of social rules and replaces them with another. Hers are not necessarily better. They often entirely miss the point. It’s this type of narrow-minded, oblivion and ignorance that actually turns young people (men and women) away from the concept of feminism and feminist ideas, even when by any other measure they would definitely identify with the core ideas.”

      That’s EXACTLY my issue, and why I haven’t self-identified as feminist for years. Because while I support the things it was founded on, it’s not the same anymore. Once the women of the feminist movement started spreading it to everything, and started putting down women who DO choose not to work and so on, it lost the very thing that made it so great initially. THIS might be why people say that feminism is dead and why they’re struggling to attract women to it now.

      Lean In does sound really interesting, and I might check it out. The issue of equal pay is particularly interesting because while it’s supposed to be the law, it’s still SO hard to discover and fight against. Even if I might suspect that I’m getting paid less than a man doing the same job at my company, how would I know? You’re not allowed to request the salary info of another employee, so women find out almost by accident. If that book talks about that, I’ll be really intrigued to check it out.

      Like

      1. It actually does, but more from a perspective of why women have lower salaries in the first place. It talks about how women are usually more satisfied with the original offer and won’t negotiate in the same way that men do. And then it goes into why that is, which was actually incredibly interesting. And other things, too. There’s one observation about how when a lecturer says “I only have time for two more questions”, women almost always lower their hands while the men keep theirs up. The moment I read it, I started noticing that exact thing happening at the university – the few women immediately lower their hands the moment it looks as though the professor is done taking questions, while the majority men just call out their questions with no regard (random anecdote, sorry).

        Like

      2. Yeah, I’m going to have to check this book out!

        That anecdote is interesting… Was the author implying that women are still more timid or something in classroom situations? I’m sure a lot of people would think that the women need to start keeping their hands raised more often, but it seems to me the men are just being asses and don’t have quite the same respect and regard for the professor’s time as women might, lol.

        Like

  9. Womp womp. When the list of why not to read a book is so long, there’s just no way. And you know, feminism is wanting equal rights for women, but I still think that includes allowing women to make choices. I wanted to change my last name when I got married (but I wanted to keep my maiden name, too, so I changed my middle name to be my maiden name). I also want to stay at home when I have kids (at least for a little bit) but I also think that women should be paid the same as men. Too bad. But look at the discussion the book has created!

    Like

    1. That’s one of the biggest things I can’t tolerate about books like this, is that the author is so judge-y while she’s trying to be pro-women. I am loving the discussion though 🙂 I do love to chat about topics like this with people – some people avoid it, but I think that as long as everyone can be respectful, it’s fun.

      Like

  10. I already have a hyphenated name, so am I supposed to have three hyphanated names now? Haha, try fitting THAT on a form!

    On someone’s TTT post the other week, they said they wanted to read The Feminine Mystique and a commenter was like “oh I read that, and haha, it actually turned me into a bit of a feminist” What does that EVEN MEAN? I am 100% feminist, every woman should be a feminist, because bottom line it means you don’t think females are less than men. The problem (and why I like your equalist term) is that some people seem to have this idea that if you’re a feminist you can’t be a stay at home mum, or you can’t wear pink, or dresses or heels. There’s this weird inclusive/exclusive thing happening with feminism online, and it’s doing no one any good. If you want to be a stay at home mum, that’s your choice, it doesn’t mean you’re succumbing to the patriarchy. If you like dresses from the 1950s, it doesn’t mean you agree with the sexism, racism, and gross inequality from that era. Liking a romantic comedy doesn’t mean you want a guy to walk all over you. Feminism is about being free to make your own choices, free to choose what your last name is after marriage, free to stay at home and raise your kids, free to never have kids and not be judged for it.

    I haven’t read the Feminine Mystique, only bits here and there, so I can’t speak for it overall, but it has quotes like this which I think are awesome.

    “Chosen motherhood is the real liberation. The choice to have a child makes the whole experience of motherhood different, and the choice to be generative in other ways can at last be made, and is being made by many women now, without guilt.”

    Like

    1. See, and in theory I AM 100% feminist… except that I don’t like all those extra things that it stands for these days, and I don’t like how judge-y some (a lot) of the feminist women can be. “You don’t want to work? You want to be a housewife?? THE HORROR!” Yes, that’s EXACTLY why I’d rather proclaim myself an equalist than a feminist.

      I think I will read The Feminine Mystique at some point, if only because it’s kind of a classic in it’s own right. I don’t expect to get a WHOLE lot out of it in relation to our modern world, but it seems interesting anyways.

      Like

Talk to me.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s