Archive of ‘Feminism’ category

The Making of an Activist

Sometimes you get involved in something sort of by accident. My involvement in feminist activism and advocacy for spiritual abuse victims has been quite organic, evolving with time after seeing things happen all around me that I couldn’t sit by and watch.

I recently started researching Mercy Ministries after being prompted by a reader here. Subsequently, I’ve posted a page with information on Mercy Ministries and links to survivors websites. Groups like Mercy are incredibly destructive and harmful, but it’s often difficult for any abuse victims to speak against their abuser. Many abusers are well-liked and charasmatic and Mercy’s founder, Nancy Alcorn is very popular with the Evangelical crowd.

Feminist activism is a tough pill for some to swallow. Being a feminist is equivelant to being an ugly, raging man-hater. Most women have feminist tendencies, as I’ve noticed lately with the birth control battle and war on women that’s raging. Or as I like to call it, The Republican Witch Hunt.

If you are a feminist, or a feminist in the making, I’d like to leave you with a little Robin Morgan. Morgan and others founded WITCH: Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell. If you have time, watch “Sustaining the Activism.”

 

The Feminist Mormon Housewives

While everyone is obsessing with mommy bloggers who cook organic roasted squash for their babies, I’m over here watching and reading (for years now), the Feminist Mormon Housewives. I don’t remember where I first heard of them, but I joined their secret Facebook group and slowly started learning that they were just like me, except they decided to stay in the church and change it from the inside. For this, I applaud them. They are a brave group of women. Many of their experiences with doctrine have been similar to mine and their questions have been similar to the ones I raised.

“Why do we have modesty doctrines and guidelines?”

“What if a woman doesn’t want to raise children? Is she less of a woman?”

“Is a woman’s only role to bear children? Why not?”

“What is this patriarchal world we’re all living in and how did it get this controlling?”

As a young woman, I was drawn to Mormonism. Quite a few times, I almost made the leap and converted, but something held me back. Perhaps it was my parents’ voice saying, “No, they’re a cult.” (I don’t consider them a cult anymore than I would consider Evangelical Christianity as a whole a cult. Mainstream Mormonism is vastly different than Fundamentalist Mormonism, which is the most restrictive, and I’ll be honest, cult is a harsh term. Patriarchal religion is maybe the safest term for Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity, though it might not capture the complexities quite as well as a term like cult. And yes, both movements do have cult-like traits.)

Despite my parents not wanting me to join the Mormon church, I went to every Mormon dance I could in high school with my Mormon friends. I went to “Seminary” with them on a weekday before school. I sang with my Honor Choir in a Mormon church. I even dated young Mormon boys.

When I first entered Master’s Commission the appeal was simple: they based Master’s Commission’s rules on the Mormon missionary movement. No dating, limited communication with family and friends from back home, strict dress code, and a focus on purity, relationship with Christ, and evangelizing. Okay, okay…maybe Mormon missionaries do cult-like rituals when they sign up for the mission field.

Regardless, the new Mormon feminism is fascinating. There are thousands of women who are questioning the oppressive traditions of their church, wearing pants to church, and thinking like, well…feminists. I can’t explain how complex it all is without giving away some very private conversations and people’s identities, so for now I’ll let you explore if you’re interested.

Here’s their new campaign, called I’m a Mormon feminist where they feature stories of women: http://mormonfeminist.org/

Here’s their blog, which began in 2004. You can learn quite a bit about them here: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FeministMormonHousewives

Or read this piece in the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/05/women-hope-for-mormon-spring/kSchzSqQDRRKAQtvfi8hhL/story.html

Here in Salon magazine: http://www.salon.com/2012/04/20/the_rise_of_the_mormon_feminist_housewife/

Feminism is Changing

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During my college years (which are almost over!), I met a variety of feminist men and women. Coming from a religious background, I never thought I’d meet a man who was feminist. The men in my religious community were loyal to patriarchy and the strictly traditional gender roles. As my life outside of religion began evolving, I began meeting new types of people. I was surprised to meet men who weren’t macho or the supposed leaders of everything they did.

My dating life improved tremendously as I started meeting men who were feminist. It became sort of an unwritten requirement for dating: feminist, atheist and not macho.

The more feminist a guy was the more often he may have deviated from traditional masculinity–at least in a few distinct ways. I’ve dated men who were nervous about approaching women, men who liked sewing and cleaning, and men who ranted about equality for women as much as I did. In meeting these men who weren’t hyper-masculine, I’d finally reached a point where I was truly happy with the types of people I was dating. In part, that was because I’d begun to find myself outside of religious definitions and was becoming happier as a result. But that wasn’t the only reason. I’d grown up knowing one type of man, the hyper masculine, adventurous man; yet, I knew I didn’t want to settle down with that type of man. I’d finally begun meeting men who I could see myself with for life, rather than men who would fit the “role” of what I should look for in a husband–a provider, a protector, etc.

So those men who love to cook and clean and sew need our support as much as women who despise cooking and cleaning and sewing and feel oppressed by such duties and resent them. The world around us tells males they should be interested in certain activities and not interested in others that are “girly.” And they get attacked for diverting from hyper masculine activities.

Feminism is changing; maybe just in my eyes and maybe because I was confined to patriarchy for years and missed some of the major changes that occurred while I was “gone.” Regardless, this isn’t your mother’s feminism. This is your feminism and your boyfriend’s feminism. And as much as feminism still does and should fight the oppression of females, it fights the oppressive gender roles for women and men.

Bullshit of the Day

“Feminism is completely irrelevant and silly to most well-adjusted women.”

Carol Platt Liebau, author of Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damaged Girls (And America, Too!)

Irrelevant and silly? Who are the well-adjusted women she Liebau is speaking of?

According to Jessica Valenti in her book The Purity Myth,

Feminism is responsible not only for the decline in violence against women over the last decade, but also for equal pay and rights legislation, reproductive justice, and the list goes on. So I’m more than a little suspicious of those who see women’s advancement as a bad thing. Besides, the regressive messages the virginity movement pushes through these books and the media is clue enough about what it really wants from women: not independence and adulthood, but submissiveness, “modesty,” and adherence to traditional gender roles. Focusing on our sexuality is just one piece, and a tool, of the larger agenda. After all, there’s a reason why the assumed goal for women in virginity-movement screeds is marriage and motherhood only: The movement believes that’s the only thing women are meant for.

Bieber vs Miley

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Here’s a comment I screen capped on Gawkers article about Justin Bieber banging a prostitute. It speaks to how I feel in light of people bashing Miley for her clothes and twerking. Especially when men can do no wrong.

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This guy has a great point. It speaks volumes about how men can get away with much more than women. If Miley is a whore, what is Bieber?

Sinead O’Connor’s Letter to Miley Cyrus

Lisa’s note: I’ve hated every ‘motherly’ scolding misguided people have given Miley. I am, in fact, Team Miley, but I love this letter. Read it and you’ll see why. 

Dear Miley,

I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today i’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares… So this is what I need to say… And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.

I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.

The music business doesn’t give a shit about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

None of the men oggling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped.. and that includes you yourself.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them pray [sic] for animals and less than animals (a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and the associated media).

You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.

I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying fuck about you. They’re there for the money.. we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.

Sinead O'Connor Image source: Biography.com

Sinead O’Connor Image source: Biography.com

You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. Its really not at all cool. And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.

As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image.. whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now.. Not because you got naked but because you make great records.

Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted.. its so not cool Miley.. its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. we aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers.. that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherfucker who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you.

More: Pophangover

Lighten Up, Everyone

My friend wrote this article about Daniel Tosh/Rape Jokes/Feminists who can’t laugh. I feel I should link it here because a) I’m quoted it in it (yay!) and b) I got a bit critical of feminism over the past few weeks and found that people were assholes about it.

Here’s my official statement about the whole issue:

There’s been a LOT of communication breakdown between myself and the feminists who reside as my ‘friends’ on Facebook and many of them have become very reactionary and angry when I started
questioning parts of the feminist movement/ideology. Please understand some things: If feminism, like any other theory or ideology, can’t be critiqued by feminists or non-feminists or the logic or illogic of our weaker arguments can’t be sliced and diced and torn apart so they can become stronger, then I will continue my critiques. Being critical of parts of feminism doesn’t make one a “neo-con”, or unsupportive. To reject women like me and others is to tragically bring truth to the argument that we are exclusionary or irrational or angry.

I do remain “feminist” but some of you have questioned that, which oddly, feels like the fundamentalist Christians response to people who call themselves Christian. “You are only Christian if you do X, or believe in X.” Please recognize that theories and movements have a long line of historical criticism behind them-critics who have bashed arguments and theories and sometimes new theories emerge. I’m a humanities major and we spent years studying theories are arguing them. This is how you learn, but it’s also how you become a critical thinker. For those of you who don’t KNOW my background, I was in a fundamentalist Christian cult for seven years. To say that critical thinking (or the ability to think for myself) and rejecting lumped ideology is important to me would be a gross understatement. Part of my habit is to dissect that which I find weak or unsupportable or flawed. It’s important to me-because no one can take away your ability to think for yourself. YOU give it up. You relinquish it.

Also “random” commented on the Street Carnage article above and I liked what they had to say:

“Good article. This is really all a result of people taking certain academic theories about language too seriously. No one but the bloggers actually believe this shit.”

Except…unfortunately people do take this shit way too seriously–not just bloggers. Let’s lighten up.

The Feminist Yawn-A More Heartfelt Response

I wrote The Feminist Yawn and received enough responses to realize I’d offended some of the feminist community, but what I didn’t expect was my broad generalizations would hurt someone I’d grown close with while collaborating for months on feminist projects. And for that, I’m sorry.

The response I wrote to feminism was mainly over two issues: UniteWomen.org and Daniel Tosh. When I blogged, “I’d been a moderator on one of the larger groups on Facebook for women’s rights (and enjoyed it) and had been involved in a growing women’s group, which I later found to be full of growing scandal/greed,” the latter part of that statement is directed at UniteWomen.org. I’d read a really powerful response by a woman of color who attended the UniteWomen rally and left disappointed. Although her post had to do explicitly with race, I felt utterly disappointed by UniteWomen, as well. For months, I felt women had so much momentum politically and UW came in and dismantled it all with their desire to be the lead group for the moment. They wanted to build a grass-roots movement and be the front-runner, and they did. However, they immediately proved to be utterly disorganized, to make excuses for not uniting women, and they treated individual state groups with disrespect. I became infuriated with UniteWomen and how they had selfishly redirected all of the energy some of us had worked so hard in gaining within the movement toward their personal agendas.

I know this because I was collaborating for months with women doing our own grass-roots movement online. I’d gotten a lot of friends politically charged and we were all moving forward. I’m not quite sure what happened to me, but I felt I needed to take a back seat, despite enjoying the work. There were too many other groups who needed help and wanted me to join in a leadership position and to be honest, I was getting pulled by a few of them very strongly. I’d enjoyed working with my friend J. and we’d become very close, but I had a difficult time saying no to other groups and requests for my leadership skills. I became overwhelmed.

I joined a UniteWomen group in Southern California before UW started pissing me off. The stateside leadership was wonderful but were not directly related to UW. I loved working with them and they transitioned away from UW and into their own group–a group I like very much. They are hard-working women who put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

And then another group came along around the same time to ask me to be on leadership, which I don’t want to get into personally before speaking with the leader of the group; however, I was a bit taken aback by the personal agenda that steamrolled this group into the mainstream. I was also kind of offended, because I take pride in not using my platform for instances like that, although I could. I don’t believe in exploiting the masses and with UniteWomen’s ability to do that, I was wary of any new group. I was also protective, like an angry mother protecting her brood. I felt like some of us had worked so hard at uniting women and a few opportunists, who hadn’t lifted a finger the whole time, wanted to come scoop them up for their own agendas. That’s NOT why we worked so hard and I felt very frustrated.

My second issue with the feminist community was how quickly we attacked Daniel Tosh. Women writers I respect immediately took to their platform. I was confused over the fact that I personally didn’t agree with Roxanne, because I usually really like her writing. However, I’d been feeling a bit of a disconnect from some of the academic community, and her response seemed very high-tower academic instead of human. The human in me was upset at Roxanne’s response because I felt that she was taking a stance for all of us and leading the feminist community into an army of Tosh.0 haters-as if he were a rapist. Years before this incident, Daniel Tosh had been one of the many comedians I would watch weekly, in my attempt to re-enter the world of pop culture after being isolated from it when I lived in a cult. However base my taste is, I felt personally insulted at everyone’s attacks. Objectivity and rational thinking seemed to go out the window after Roxanne’s article went up and feminists I knew started personally attacking me over my taste in Daniel Tosh’s comedy.

All of a sudden, the community I’d been part of for so many months turned their back on me and attacked me. It wasn’t a good feeling. I suppose that’s when I realized how fickle mobs can be. One minute they love you. The next minute they’re stoning you.

For what it’s worth, I’m still feminist. I’m not feminist in the way my friend Marty is feminist, though. When we were discussing his post, he shared why he was a feminist: “I consider myself a feminist, but that’s just part of being a humanist. It’s okay to be seen as a feminist in my eyes. Just not hysterical, or ranty or attention seeking…”

I’m not a feminist because I’m atheist or humanist nor do I feel it’s fair or accurate to call the feminist community “hysterical” or ranty or attention seeking.

I hope that I represent one feminist well, but I also hope to be seen as an individual. As a former cult member it’s very important for me to have freedom to have my own opinions and taste, even if that means I’m not “part of the group.” I do also hope we can all work together on being objective when we need to be and to think critically instead of jumping onto a bandwagon because it’s popular. Despite our differences of opinion (of which I’m sure there are many), there are a great number of people within the feminist community I admire and enjoy working with. Thanks to one in particular who helped me see that.

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