Warning: does not remotely resemble a perfect feminist
There are days when I see feminism as a school, a school where we sit diligently and learn of Susie B. and Betty Friedan, and if we’re lucky, Audre Lorde and Alice Walker. We’re taught how to recognize the workings of the patriarchy in the world at large and to rail against the misogyny and sexism of others. We’re taught how to lobby for better laws, how to critique crass Hollywood comedies and how to scorn a singer’s latest T&A music video. But often, we’re blinder to a deeper problem: the biases we hold within our own hearts.
I come here with a confession: My name is Franki Butler, and I am a misogynist.
Well, no, that’s not true. If it were, Amelia and Josh would have kicked me to the curb long ago. I do, however, hold a metric crap-ton of misogynist ideas, ideas that have become so tangled with my personality and my interactions with the world that I am unsure how best to unravel them.
I frequently privilege male viewpoints over female ones in conversations. I use the word “bitch” more often than most fratboys say “bro.” As much as I rail against Hollywood sexism, if I’m not looking for a romantic comedy I often default to my beloved male centered narratives rather than actively searching out female ones, convinced that a story centered around a woman will be too sappy/stupid/girly for my tastes. In times of severe emotional stress, I often tell myself to “stop being such a girl about it”. (For those of you who don’t know me, I am in possession of a XX set.) The list goes on; these are just the things I’ve caught myself doing in the past week.
And I’m pretty sure you do them to, or things like them. We don’t rail against the patriarchy solely for the outward harm it causes, but for the way it manipulates our psyches as well. It gets into our heads, and sometimes we need to do a bit of self-examination.
Most people I know are past the “bitchez r stoopid, har har” brand of misogyny, but it internalizes itself in all sorts of ways. For example, is this your favorite song in the world, (warning: Not Safe for Work), and do you defend it by saying “that’s just how rock music is”? Do you occasionally dislike female characters in TV shows/books/comics/movies for no logical reason, or do you like them only because they’re played by attractive actresses? Do you find yourself using gendered insults when non-gendered ones would work just as well? None of these make you a bad person, but they may be a sign that the gender issues of the outside world are working their way into your head.
And I don’t know how to stop it. All I can suggest is awareness. I’m not giving up the “Sex, Drugs & Rock n’Roll” playlist on my iPod, but I need to recognize that most of those songs are problematic. Most of my favorite films/TV shows don’t pass the Bechdel Test, but I’m looking for ones that do. If I want to be a good feminist, I can’t simply call out the missteps of others. I have to look to my own, as well.
I leave you with this lovely video. The song is arguably sexist and homophobic, but the video is a pretty fabulous critique on my favorite summer blockbuster (yeah, I know it came out 4 months ago. The video’s still awesome).