I love this comment thread, not only because the people in it are smart and lively but they're also honest. And I want to address directly those who feel a twinge of guilt when their eyes roll back as they hear the word "feminism."
That's alright. It's taken me a while to come to grips with what feminism means to me. I'm working on it, because I think it's worth working on.
Feminism means very different things to different people. I can only speak for myself. Ma hunnies, I've been abused, overlooked, put down, touched inappropriately, pushed, underpaid, and attacked simply because of my gender.
But with all of that I don't believe that the world is an evil place where I have to fight all the time to make it better. I can laugh a lot, love a lot, work hard, eat, kiss, knit, read and with all of that make the world better.
Oh, and I can write.
There are some times when you just have to fight. I get that. Trust me, I get it that "being good" does not always win the battle. I've admitted big defeat in that arena. Sometimes you have to be bad and you have to kick ass and you have to get out. I get that.
The reason I respond more often with resilience than anger has much to do with having a mother and father who listened to me. They treated my opinions with respect, so as I grew up and some jerk groped me, I knew I was of value and didn't have to put up with that. It took a lot longer when I had to abandon dreams of being a so-called good wife in order to endorse my inherent value, but I did that too.
Power is the right to say no to what you don't want, and yes to what you do. And to be treated with respect regardless of your own personal choice, provided that choice does not harm others.
Recently I've discovered the world of "sex-positive feminism." In the seventies this world was about telling off Andrea Dworkin, all sex is NOT rape and all porn is not anti-women, etc. I think sex-positive feminism has become a little less about that and a little more about enjoying one's sexuality, even if that means you are not exerting but rather surrendering power in doing so. It still amazes me that feminists who will march in the streets (justifiably) to allow two men or two women to marry each other, point with horror at certain other sexual deviances which are clearly consensual, and cry rape or warn that they're triggering or even misogynistic.
Extreme case here, but what if you are a woman who enjoys tying up other women, and find women who enjoy being tied up? Those were the original sex-positive feminists. They said, "Wait a minute, you think we leather dykes are, ahem, endorsing patriarchy? Somehow we're collaborating with the subjugation of women? And we're not invited to your "real" feminist colloquium on pornography as a human rights violation because we like photography? Pardon our French, but fuque vous."
One friend said it's like complaining about driving. The car ahead of you is always going too slow and the car behind you is too fast. If you sit in judgment against everyone, then the only person driving the correct speed is you. So all of what is right and wrong sexually is what YOU PERSONALLY can handle in terms of your own judgmental comfort level.
But wait a minute, Blue Gal, I thought this post was going to be about feminism, and you're making it a post about sex!
My point exactly. And to seal the deal, I have a little "Women's Studies in Popular Culture" class exercise for anyone who thinks I'm off the mark.
Listen to the song below, and then deconstruct Mary J. Blige by writing an essay based on one of the following options (choose only one, turn in your bluebooks via the comment thread below):
A. Convince us that because she sings this song, Mary J. Blige is not a good feminist.
B. (Advanced feminist critics only) Write a porno script that incorporates Mary J. Blige and her drummer. Make it good.