Male Feminism vs. Male Masculinism

Ten Things You Should Know About Two Opposing Movements

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  1. Have you heard of the anti-feminist counter-movement, “Masculinism”? Probably not. This mobilization of women-haters has garnered little research. Initiated in 1980’s Quebec, “masculinists” claim they are victims of the work that feminism has done and that “the intrinsically male competitive spirit and, thus, the sound operation of the capitalist economy” (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 27). Déri 22) is in danger. Members of the campaign assert that women are dominating Quebec, resulting in a superseding of the patriarchy. In short, their aim is to reverse the work that feminists have done in the province. 
  2. The opposition began over the issue of ‘fathers’ rights’ in the 1980’s and 1990’s. During this time, women convinced the government to enact a law forcing estranged fathers to pay child support. Simultaneously, members of the feminist movement built a large network of resources for women who had been victims of male violence (committed mainly by spouses and ex-spouses). In response, much of the efforts of the masculinist operation is spent fighting for the sapping of resources to shelters for women of domestic violence, which they claim work to transmit a negative image of men. The most devout sect of the movement is Fathers-4-Justice, with members not only in Canada, but the UK, the USA, and elsewhere.

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Fathers-4-Justice members dressed up in superhero costumes protest by hanging a banner off the side of a building.

3. The reality of women’s rights achievements in Quebec leaves plentiful room for improvement. Politically, 70% of the government’s parliamentary seats and 84% of its mayorships are made-up of men. Furthermore, Quebec’s largest corporations are led largely by men, with 84% of board room participants being male. In Canada, the 86% of people who own firearms are men. It may not come as a surprise, then, that the female–male ratio of spousal homicide victims is 5 to 1. Yet, “Masculinists…see themselves as victims of women and feminists”  (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 22).

4. The authors of the article “Masculinism and The Antifeminist
Countermovement” compared masculinism to racism: “The masculinist movement is grounded in political, economic, and social power relations between men as a class and women as a class. It combats feminism and the progress women have achieved with the help of feminists, just as neo-Nazism strives for the domination of one group (the Aryans) over another (essentially the Jews), or as the white supremacist movement fights against the legal and social gains accomplished by the descendants of Afro-American slaves, which entail a loss of advantages for whites” (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 25).

5. Many masculinists hold praise for the single worst anti-feminist violent act in history. On December 9, 1989, Marc Lépine shot and killed 14 women at the E´ cole polytechnique de Montre´al and then took his own life. He’d left a note voicing his belief in anti-feminism as a catalyst for the event. Today, Lépine is often applauded and even regarded as an inspiration for the masculinist movement.

6. Meanwhile, Shaun Wiley, et al. in the article “Positive Portrayals of Feminist Men Increase Men’s Solidarity With Feminists and Collective Action Intentions” considers “male feminism” (93) and its potential as a conciliatory event. They first combat the question, can males be feminist? One concept, termed the “impossibility theory” says no. “Because there is no exit from male patriarchy. Men simply don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. Men are the colonists of the feminist front, women are the natives” (84).

7. On the other hand, the authors consider that our identities as male and female are completely intertwined. One sex cannot exist without the other. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all persons to appeal for gender equality. The problem with the “impossible theory” is that “the conceptualization of feminism as a “women’s only” political movement is that the idea is often buttressed by by a social construction of gender that posits all men as the enemy” (90), and that’s not what feminism is supposed to be about. It should be about equality for all genders.

8. “Central to this claim”, therefore, “is the notion that all of us (women and men) have a stake in transforming gender relations. Feminism provides an ideological vehicle for which to do the work” (90). The first obligation of any man (or woman for that matter) who wants to understand and be a part of the feminist movement should first confront the deeply ingrained patriarchal tendencies with which they construct their lives. Here is a helpful article for people who aren’t sure how to have a conversation about feminism.

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9. Also, the HeForShe movement is a great place for men who want to fight for gender equality to get started. “With more gender awareness men would be in a political position to challenge the ways in which they enact and naturalize the patriarchal codes of manhood in their everyday social encounters” (Wiley, Shaun et al. 87). Click the link to get aware! 

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10. Finally, vote for Bernie Sanders, a male feminist.

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Works Cited

Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri. “Masculinism and The Antifeminist Countermovement.” Social Movement Studies 11.1 (2012): 21-39. Social Sciences Full Text  (H.W. Wilson). Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Wiley, Shaun, et al. “Positive Portrayals of Feminist Men Increase Men’s Solidarity With
Feminists and Collective Action Intentions.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 37.1 (2013): 61. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Photo Credits

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Book Review: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti

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       Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters (2014) by Jessica Valenti aims to shatter the misconception that feminists are aggressive, male-despising, bra burning inhabitants of a combative cause. Valenti wrote the book out of frustration at the articles pervading the media alleging the movement’s death. She also observed a palpable disinterest of young women to explore feminism, possibly because of its negative connotations. In response, Valenti took charge as the chill scribe of a 21st Century guidebook for skeptical women. Valenti writes like she’s your BFF; settle in with a coffee in a comfy chair and she’ll whisk you away into her laid-back, comical and delightfully compelling domain.

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      First published in 2007, the book has entered its’ second publication, making it even more relevant to the current climate of the movement. The manual confronts everything from reproductive rights, education, violence, sex and relationships, pop culture, and more. Plus, with witty chapter titles like “Sex and the City Voters, my ass” and “Feminists Do it Better (and Other Sex Tips)”, it’s hard not to be seduced into its’ witty performance.

      Valenti’s first challenge to readers is to answer questions like, “Do you think it’s fair that a guy will make more money doing the same job as you?” Her point is basically if you believe that men and women should be treated equally, that is socially, politically and economically, then you’re a feminist. What’s more, Valenti makes being a feminist easy for you. That is, you’re not going to have to undergo some sort of freakish initiation. All you have to do is read her simple definition of feminism and consider that accepting it is analogous to making things better for women in every facet of their existence.

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      A particularly refreshing element of Valenti’s conversation is her discussion of the degradation and maltreatment of men in society. Just as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls for parental reform in her book, so Valenti demands a renunciation of raising boys to be excessively resilient, and void of emotions and tears; the protectors and rational spokespersons of all human-kind.

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      Be prepared to meet a woman with the exceptional ability to string curse words together with a smug, yet smart and entirely motivating set of guidelines for getting behind feminism. Her words don’t ring holier-than-thou, rather her casual voice is simply an attempt to attract young women (and sometimes men) to the cause.

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      Despite Valenti’s energetic calls to action, there are segments of her argument that I can’t accept. For example, she focuses mostly on white, middle-class straight women. While I recognize this is partly natural due to her own experience and her own perspective, she fails to invite women of other races and genders to the discussion. Furthermore, she demands in chapter seven that women not change their last names should they decide to get married. In my opinion, this demand of hers is intrusive and not conducive to seducing women to the cause. Such a decision is personal to each couple, and let’s not forget that marriage is now legal for homoesexual couples as well (yay!). Succinctly speaking, her caution here reeks of the very “man-hating” tone she claims to be refusing, and it sounds like her own personal problem; not the movement’s.

Overall, Valenti makes a strong case, and she presents the information with a balance of humor, energy, and urgency. The most important and relevant chapter is the last chapter of the book, chapter thirteen, where Valenti confronts the timeworn issues of racism and classicism in regards to feminism. I appreciate Valenti’s effort to make young women aware of the importance of recognizing, appreciating and inviting the differences in race, class, age, etc. to the feminist cause. She is right in emphasizing that it’s the only way we can move forward in gaining rights for all women in the 21st Century.

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     This book is accessible, entertaining, and a good, easy introduction to feminism. Valenti saves the history lesson for late in the book, after she’s got you all fired up. She also encourages a modern participation in the movement via blogging and online activism, which I talked about the importance of in my last post. If you enjoy a mixture of concrete facts paired with humorous writing and statistical information; if you want to learn about feminism without reading a dense theory book; if you simply want to refresh your knowledge about the cause, then this book is for you.

Works Referred

Valenti, Jessica. Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2007. Print.

Photo Links

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Jezebel’s Faulty Feminist Banter and the Way of the F-Bombers

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Jezebel is well-known blog that claims to carry a feminist agenda. It was founded in 2007 by Anna Holmes and is geared exclusively towards and written by adults. In a world where the existence of a feminist movement is still necessary, and the existence of an online blog would seem to build global awareness of the issues at stake, Jezebel isn’t exactly helping the cause.

Instead, what Jezebel reads like is a catty gossip column created by adults who never grew out of their junior high ‘mean girls’ stage. Its’ overall snarky tone and tendency to bully and judge women who don’t fit into the ideal Jezebel-produced feminist mold only succeeds in perpetuating the alienation and segregation that abounds in the female community. What Jezebel doesn’t offer is the sort of openness, the sort of supportive community that women who want to speak up but have been hesitant to, need. Instead, its’ tendency is to pin women against each other, which is really a shame.

Clare Malone, writer and author of the article “Jezebel Grew Up: The Website Used Upstart Humor To Teach Feminism To A Generation. Now It’s A Media ‘Influencer.’.”, points out various instances of persecution against certain women on the website. One writer was quick, for example, to write an article which reeked with condescension against the filmmaker Sofia Coppola, claiming that she creates “artfully draped, filmy costume design and hazy, ill-framed film shots”, and that she “… tends also to be a bit hard on women in her films”. Just Google “Jezebel article bashing women” and you’ll find a variety of articles speaking out against the website’s gossipy, snarky, drama-fueled approach.

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A screen shot of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the Sofia Coppola-directed film “Marie Antoinette” (2006)

Jezebel tags itself as a “Celebrity, Sex, and Fashion blog” with a feminist agenda. Indeed, they have a right in their opinions. Moreover, a lot of women enjoy the dramatic, witty medium of the writing. It’s no wonder the blog is so popular.

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But where is the space for women to really express their deepest concerns and be listened to with an open, compassionate, and non-judgmental ear? We can thank a girl named Jessica for creating the site F-Bomb when she was sixteen years-old, a website that launched a proactive, pan-cultural feminist movement on the web.

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F-Bomb markets itself as an online “blog/community created for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard’.” The blog encourages every teenager, male or female, to submit articles and post comments that explore contemporary issues about women’s rights. This allows contributors and readers to articulate their own perspectives about what it means to be a female in the 21st century across the world.

The namesake, F-Bomb, stands for “feminist”. It’s also a sarcastic phrase aimed at articulating the “loud, proud…passionate: everything feminists are today”. It’s not accidental that the title reflects a swear word popular in American culture. The point is in its’ “in-your-face” nature.

F-Bomb is written by teenage girls and boys all over the world, including India, Canada, England, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and is read by people in over 90 countries. Discussions take on an exclusively feminist perspective and include everything from pop culture, reproductive rights, sexuality, violence, and transnational statuses of feminism.

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The appeal and success of the website is a product of its’ worldwide accessibility. In the past, teenagers who operated under a resistance to animosity against women made zines, participated in punk music, and hip hop. Those were the outlets in a world where feminism tended to be organized by adult organizations. Now, the internet fills the gaps where teenagers were omitted from the cause, particularly in areas of the world where it’s unacceptable and even unlawful for a girl to have a voice.

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Jessalynn Marie Keller, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, says in her article “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, And Participatory Politics”, that “through the practice of blogging teenage girls are actively re-framing what it means to participate in feminist politics, drawing on opportunities that the Internet provides to embrace new understandings of community, activism, and even feminism itself” (430).

In this way, the lines are being blurred between what was once thought of as a campaign for a privileged minority a mainstream movement that is becoming far reaching. Now, youth all over the world can exercise political agency. Furthermore, girls who don’t have a say in their own communities have the opportunity to spread the word about the issues they’re facing.

The emergence of online blogs such as the F-Bomb is a sure sign of a redefining that is happening in feminism. Online communication pan-culturally is the new political activism, and is the marker in the definition of Third Wave feminism. It is a new era of the feminist cause which goal is to expand women’s rights to a global scale.

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What online communities for young feminists such as F-Bomb do is provide a relatively safe network where all teenage or collage age girls and boys can explore feminism with little commitment and risk. They are also supplying the opportunity to gain understanding about other cultures. Also, there is a production of tolerance ingrained in this kind of space, as well as a place for the building up of future women. For example, the habits of engagement and critical thinking that takes place on these sites creates room for girls to become “active producers of culture” (Keller, 432).

In the 21st century, online blogs, forums, and social media communities are the new place for political activism. It is also a place where people of a younger generation can come and speak, collaborate with other youth from around the world, expand their understanding of global issues, develop critical thinking skills, tolerance, and begin to build a strong passion for participating in political change.

Works Cited

Keller, Jessalynn Marie. “Virtual Feminisms: Girls’ Blogging Communities, Feminist Activism, And Participatory Politics.” Information, Communication & Society 15.3 (2012): 429-447. PsycINFO. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Malone, Clare. “Jezebel Grew Up: The Website Used Upstart Humor To Teach     Feminism To A Generation. Now It’s A Media ‘Influencer.’.” The American Prospect 6 (2013): 73. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Photo Resources

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Book Review: Feminist Literary Theory: An Introductory Handbook by Yonge Eglinton

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     Having just been published this month, Feminist Literary Theory: An Introductory Handbook by Yonge Eglinton is a relevant outline of the spacious territory that is feminist literary criticism. In addition, it is considerably designed with the novice in mind at forty-six understandable pages and exists as a comfortable platform in which the student of feminist concepts can recline with gentle ease.

         As a teacher of literary criticism for nearly twenty-years, Eglinton is aware of the procedures that best facilitate learning. Thus, his manual is carefully organized by offering a wealth of critical thinking questions to support the reader in looking at literature through a feminist lens. Using a practical approach, Eglinton organizes his book into several themes: theoretical background. historical and social context, biographical evidence, and the form & language of the text itself.

          With reference to theoretical background, Eglinton offers a deeper definition of “patriarchy” and also references the term “biological essentialism”. Because each of these paradigms have fueled the need for a feminist cause and exist in every text that concerns women’s rights, it is essential to Eglinton that the critic establish knowledge about them.

      He also emphasizes a reading which focuses on the political structures that existed alongside the time period of the text, along with the dominant arrangement of ideas concerning “philosophy, religion, science, and humanities” in regards to the woman’s role in the piece. Looking closely at biographical evidence, Eglinton says, is also important for the critic in their analysis. In other words, a piece of literature should be read in consideration of the relationships between men and women, women and women, as well as the author’s personal relationships outside of their texts. In the final section concerning the text itself, the author discusses what feminist critics traditionally look for about the “ideological stance of the text in relation to patriarchy”. This investigation should include attention on the portrayal of the female body and feminine experiences recorded in literary texts. Furthermore, in studying the tone, language, and point-of-view of the text in correlation with locating the ideological agenda of the author, the critic will be able to identify the author’s overall feminist perspective, if there is one.

        An obviously refreshing aspect of this book is that it was written by a male. Yet, Yonge Eglinton’s tone is even-keeled, unbiased, and wholeheartedly aware of the patriarchal society which exists and is especially portrayed in literature. He stresses the importance of women in the field and their power to shift the tides when given the chance to print and distribute their voices. Additionally, he engages some of the most powerful sources in feminist literature (Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir) to incite the reader to ponder the main issues of the cause.

        This is a helpful book for any writing student who wishes to explore the arena of feminism and be able to think and write critically about texts concerning the subject, which are endless. If you want to look at a book through a feminist lens, Eglinton offers a myriad of questions to begin your journey. A good example is, “How is the female body portrayed in the text? Does the female body…reflect cultural, social, and political norms?” As a student taking a course on Literature, Gender, and Sexuality this semester, these questions were especially helpful for me in reflecting on the readings I’ve been doing in that space.

       Overall, I appreciated Eglinton’s pragmatic approach to learning how to read and write about feminism and its theories. His writing being simple and concise was a crucial element to being able to grasp such typically exhausting material. If you’re looking to get a straightforward lesson on feminist literary criticism in a mere hours time of reading, look to Eglinton as a trusty source.

Works Referenced

Eglinton, Yonge. Feminist Theory: An Introductory Handbook. CreateSpace

     Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. Print.

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Slut Walks: What Are They Good For?

     There’s a new kind of protest going on in contemporary Third Wave feminism. Slut Walks have turned into a global experience. These marches were sparked in response to a comment made by a police officer at a safety program held at Toronto’s York University in 2011. The policeman apparently criticized women who dress “like sluts” as being partially responsible for a number of sexual assault incidents against their gender. To retaliate, 3,000-4,000 women (and men) marched to voice their right to wear spaghetti strap tank-tops without being told they were “asking for it”. Fastened to this celebration of sexual empowerment was a protest against sexual violence itself.

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         The Toronto event made such a raucous as to spread globally, influencing the U.S. along with Brazil, Australia, India, and other countries to hold their own version of a Slut Walk. Jo Reger, a professor at Oakland University, attended one of these walks in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her article titled “The Story of a Slut Walk: Sexuality, Race, and Generational Divisions in Contemporary Feminist Activism”, offers readers a down-to-earth exposition of her experience. Reger’s goal was to explore the ways in which “contemporary girls situate themselves in a world that objectifies and simultaneously empowers them” (Reger, 96). After all, the issue of sexual violence against women is an old one and has been a focus of the feminist cause in decades before. What the Slut Walks does, it seems, is to reveal “an old issue that reemerges with new ideological packaging” (Reger, 96).  However, the question is…

Is There Anything to Be Gained by Presenting Ourselves as Sluts?

Reger cited two different critiques about Slut Walks.

  1. A Rejection of the Use of “Slut” Imagery

       One group of feminists, notably Gail Dines and Kathy Miriam, claim there is no way women dressing as sluts can turn the gaze of the male to one of respect as opposed to objectification. In a world chock-full of “disempowering (and often pornographic) sexual images of women” (Reger, 88), they believe all these scantily clad women are doing is perpetuating the stereotype and giving males even more license to objectivity them. An article in a May 2011 issue of The Guardian cited Dines and Murphy as arguing that, “Women need to take to the streets—but not for the right to be called “slut.” Women should be fighting for liberation from culturally imposed myths about their sexuality that encourage gendered violence” (Reger, 88). 

  1. Women of Color Point-Out That White Women Organizers Have Not Been Empathetic to Their Historical Situation

Here’s the thing: many Black women say they don’t want to be involved with any kind of cause that calls themselves “sluts”. Members of Black Women’s Blueprint spoke-out in regards to this notion and basically claimed there is no space for them to be involved in these marches because to call themselves “sluts” would be essentially “validating the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the Black woman is” (Reger, 88). In response to this statement, some marches have renamed themselves a “Stomp and Holler” so as to include the histories of all women. The march in which Reger attended in Northampton, for example, was renamed a “Stomp and Holler” for this reason.

A Space for Healing…

Despite criticism, Slut Walks, or rather Stomp and Hollers, have operated as spaces where women who have been victims of rape or other forms of sexual assault can come, talk, and deal with the trauma they’ve been through amongst a group of supportive women. These events have often been a place for the beginning of healing, where participants can go from being victims to claiming survival. Many women who have undergone such treatment have found that to call themselves “sluts” is a way to reclaim an agency over their own bodies. They are saying, “Only I can call myself that.” What these marches do then, is allow them to voice what’s been held deep inside and to ultimately, hopefully, thrive again.

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     The authors of the article “Reclaiming the Feminist Politics of ‘Slutwalk'” cited an article by Melanie Klein on the Ms. Magazine blog in 2011 to sum up the overall goal and point of Slut Walks: “Some of us embrace the word slut. Some don’t. But we’re all marching for two vital liberties: both the freedom to be sexual and the freedom from violence, harassment and rape” (Borah, Rituparna & Nandi, 419).

Works Cited

Reger, Jo. “The Story of a Slut Walk: Sexuality, Race, and Generational Divisions in      Contemporary Feminist Activism.” Sage Journals. Journal of Contemporary      Ethnography, Feb. 2015. Web.

Borah, Rituparna, and Subhalakshmi Nandi. “Reclaiming The Feminist Politics Of ‘Slutwalk’.” International Feminist Journal Of Politics 14.3 (2012): 415-421.Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

Picture References

Slut Walks Toronto

Clothes and Consent

Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Summary

        This post will focus on the book We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Written in 2014, it was first presented as a TED Talk in the UK in 2012. Now in slim paperback form, Adichie’s book reads as a refreshing, compassionate personal essay that asks, “What does “feminism” mean today?”

Adichie’s purpose in defining the 21st Century concept of “feminism” is at first to illuminate the deeply ingrained social behaviors that have and continue to marginalize women, particularly in her African country of Nigeria. She gives evidence for the perpetuation of these behaviors across generations and prompts her own experiences of subjugation as a testimony.

       For example, she tells about an evening out in her home town of Lagos, Nigeria, where her and her male friend Louis were going to get dinner. She recalls how at the end of the evening, she gave the man who had parked her car a tip. After taking the money out of her hand, the man turned and looked at Louis, apparently exclaiming, “Thank you, sah!” (7). In addition to her own stories, Adichie also reveals the still prevalent injustices toward women in the workforce and in the realm of social expectations.

In the second part of her gentle confrontation, Adichie calls for the reimagining of the word “feminism” as a method by which we raise our sons and daughters in order to reach a fairer world, one in which both male and females are treated equally. Conclusively, Adichie’s message is less for the uprising of women to exceed the patriarchy, and more a call for mothers and fathers to end the continuation of these deeply ingrained ideas about gender through their parenting habits.

Critique

What is energizing about Adichie’s voice is that it is one of coherence, clarity, and raw humanism. Unlike the volumes of feminist theory books that line the shelves of any college library, Adichie’s style is relaxed, to-the-point, and minds the layman. She even says at one point, “…each time I try to read those books called “classic feminist texts”, I get bored…” (3).

Her tone, which seeks not to blame men, but to attribute gender discrimination to all people, candidly states the facts and encourages a straightforward look at what it is to be a feminist, which is simply a person who believes in equality for women and men alike. Briefly, Adichie recognizes that society as a whole must change if equality is to be achieved, and the way to do that is to start with children.

Adichie brilliantly points out the propensity to raise our boys to be appreciated for their aggressiveness, that we define the idea of “masculinity” so narrowly that we place our men in a box. Boys are taught, Adichie emphasizes, to stifle their fears, their weaknesses, and to shun vulnerability. On the other hand, the girls who eventually become subjugated women in society are raised to value beauty, to crave marriage, to worry about what people think of them, to stifle their own anger, their own opinions, their own voices, in order to make way for men. And so, these boys and girls grow-up and the cycle of gender discrimination continues on.

       What Adichie is calling for is the raising of boys and girls to claim different values, to eliminate this idea that each gender exist within certain boundaries, or else be persecuted. She does so in such an engaging way, that one can whip through her 52-page essay in the time it takes for a couple cups of morning coffee to be slurped.

Recommendation

Adichie’s solution is simple, which is what is so beautiful about it. In foregoing the usual feminist jargon, she succeeds in outlining the cause of feminism for people who either don’t quite understand its mission or have been hesitant to delve into the idea because of the misnomer of its cause, which has often been spread by so-called “radical feminists” and the like. Hesitators of reading this book should rest assured that what Adichie has done is to reconstruct a frequently alienating, transient, and sometimes combative subject into a transparent, rational, accessible, and all-around essential idea.

Ultimately, Adichie is simply asking us to be aware of these disparities in our culture, to ask ourselves why we as males and females should be threats to each other, and how we can work to eliminate those habits. This piece has been curated for every person, whether they consider themselves feminists, or whether they’re not sure what a feminist is. It will provide a simple, effective definition of the term and give a compelling assignment to parents and future parents to raise children to be equalizers in a world of uneven gender roles.

        While this is more complicated than it sounds, (because every culture has their own deeply ingrained views on gender roles), it is only obvious that we begin at the childhood level in order to affect change in our future. I believe if we implement her uncomplicated parenting and personal habits, we could see the eradication of gender discrimination over a period of a few generations. If you’re willing to explore this idea, too, then do yourself a favor and read this all-together informative, humorous, and valuable essay.

Making Moves: First Wave Feminism in the U.S.

     In tracing the history of feminism, there has been the tendency of scholars to break its events down into a series of “waves”. The “First Wave” of feminism in the United States is generally understood to have taken place between the years of 1848 to 1920. The reason 1848 is noted as the beginning of the First Wave is owing to an event called the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention. This affair is considered to be the first substantial assemblage of women declaring their fight towards the right to vote in history. It is Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who are most noted for their involvement in this event, and their reconstruction of the period is narrated in a multi-volume book titled The History of Woman Suffrage.

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(1) Left: Susan B. Anthony             (2) Right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

             Anthony and Stanton were a powerhouse of mobility. Anthony, being well-versed in politics, reserved in nature, and with an analytical and statistical mind, collaborated well with the passionate public speaking, philosopher, rhetorer, more emotional and compassionate personality of Stanton. While Stanton was tied domestically to a home life consisting of seven children, Anthony chose to reject the notion of marriage, and endured long journeys to do the “leg-work” for the movement.

Before the 1870’s, Anthony’s focus included dress reform (1850’s), the Married Women’s Property Act (passed in 1860, with some compromises), helping slaves to escape on the Underground Railroad, and working as the New York agent of the American Antislavery Society. Additionally, she helped Stanton found the Woman’s National Loyal League in 1863, which was organized to petition against slavery. Furthermore, Anthony started the New York Women’s Working Association in 1868 to support a campaign geared towards an eight-hour work day and equal pay.

It was in 1869 that Stanton and Anthony turned their focus severally towards the cause of women’s suffrage with their establishment of the Woman Suffrage Association. During the aforementioned Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, Stanton read a document she’d authored titled Declaration of Sentiments. In it she proclaimed, “…in view of this entire disenfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation…and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.”

While it is these two pioneering women who are most prominent in the First Wave of feminism in the United States, members of this movement spanned across races, religions, and issues. Within the First Wave of feminism, there is what’s now deemed the “short wave”. While the right to vote is referred to as the central focus and biggest success of the First Wave, boundless issues in the realm of racial justice, prostitution, domestic abuse, divorce, sexual liberation, religious authority, labor rights, and international politics took their place in the process for not only women’s rights, but for global human rights as well. In fact, this wave is said to have taken specific inspiration from a group of radical activists operating in France in the 1830’s, a movement that called for spiritual and economic rights in consideration of gender and class equality and individual liberation from oppression. Such an influence is what Hurwitz and Taylor were describing as “cultural hybridization”, which is an idea introduced in my first blog post, wherein women’s movements mix and/or are transformed by other women’s causes.

The efforts in what’s termed the “short wave” within the longer “First Wave” timeline, is given to the period of the 1820’s to the 1870’s. Its’ activists consisted of white Quakers and free black communities in western and central New York state, plus eastern Pennsylvania. Allies also resided in New England, the Midwest, and even parts of Britain, Canada, and Europe. The most notable participants included Frederick Douglass, a free black slave man whose newspaper, The North Star, served as a key mode of communication for its advocates. Other prominent members were Abby Kelley, William C. Nell, Sojourner Truth, and Amy Post.

north star A section from the North Star newspaper (3)

     Complex in their causes and rich in their voices, these profound lecturers, writers, and organizers were the first heroines and heroes of feminism in the U.S. They served as the transmitters for the next wave of feminism, which will be introduced and discussed in the next blog post.

References

 Anthony, Susan Brownell, Elizabeth Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. History of Woman Suffrage. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1882. Print.

Hewitt, Nancy A,. “Feminist Frequencies: Regenerating the Wave Metaphor.” Feminist Studies 38.3 (2012): n. pag. Literature Resource Center. Web.

Rappaport, Helen. Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara:

                ABC-CLIO, 2001. Print.

 Rappaport, Helen. Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers. Vol. 2. Santa Barbara:

               ABC-CLIO, 2001. Print.

Picture References:

1. Susan B. Anthony

2. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

3. The North Star newspaper