Friday, January 20, 2006

Feminism Ruined My Life!

As many of you know, I got into writing about the Green Party and my opinions in large part because YC Magazine allowed the York County Greens to submit articles for publication. My latest piece was to have had the rather provocative headline above, but instead ran under last month's title, "Why Care?", which was about why Greens care, and how spirituality plays a role in why Greens care.

This piece is intended to explain why Feminism is one of the Green Party's Ten Key Values. I hope that you will offer comments as you are moved. The article is behind the "Read more!" link...

Feminism Ruined My Life.

Her hurt was evident from the first sentence. Everything promised by society was turning out to be a lie. No Prince Charming out there. She wasn't finding work fulfilling. She was expected to do more for herself. She was expected to be June Clever for her man, but couldn't expect her man to be Ward Clever. She felt that feminism had stolen away all the best in men and left only the immature boy inside. The men who sold her an idea of what her future was going to be like lied to her, and she blamed feminists instead of the men who control media and the message they sell.

Most Greens come to the Green Party because we are disgusted by the corruption in government, corporations, and political parties. We are sickened at the way politicians accept thousands in campaign contributions from corporations. We are disgusted that politicians think we are so stupid that we can't recognize a bribe when we see one.

What, are you crazy?

Why would a political party take a word like feminism and put it at the very center of it's values system? Feminism is at best a loaded word. Were we crazy to make feminism a key value, or were we crazy like a fox? Well, actually, neither. The Green Party is very committed to the things we believe in. Setting aside something we believe in just to win votes or supporters is not what the Green Party is all about. If that's the sort of politics you're looking for there are two other parties better suited to that purpose.

So, what is feminism? To Greens feminism is about empowering women and girls to take control. Iraq can't be blamed on women, nor can torture and rape as a weapon of war. Politicians caught stealing are almost never women. Corporate big-wigs bribing their way to influence and profits around the globe are almost always men. Women should be in a position to make many more of these sorts of decisions. We believe women would not make some of the choices men have. That’s feminism, and we all benefit.

Of course, being female is no guarantee of feminism, nor even humanity. Margaret Thatcher was happy to send troops across the ocean in the 1980s to attack Argentina for mis-behaving, a decidedly paternalistic thing to do. Indira Ghandi was pretty much always open to corruption and influence peddling if memory serves me right, and she was certainly not the advocate for peace and reconciliation her name might lead you to expect.

Feminism is about empowering women, not weakening men. Feminism is a different way of seeing the world. It’s a way of seeing a better world. It's an effort to change the way we think, act and react. We believe that an objective look at where we are right now will convince many people that we must change direction, and soon. The planet is under assault, and the men who are assaulting it must be stopped. Replacing one set of men with another set of men is not enough. We must have more fundamental change, the sort of change feminism represents.
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When in college (many, many years ago) I took one, and only one, course on feminism, taught by the sociology department.

The most important thing I learned was the working definition. Feminism is a twofold belief -

1) A belief that society treats women differently than men, in a way which is detrimental to women

2) A value judgement, that this difference is bad.

There are many, many different 'kinds' of feminism, some of which contradict each other. Some feminists actually *do* think that men=bad, women=good. Others, myself included, believe that sexism is harmful to women in general, and to most men as well.

I think that talking about it is a good first step. Unfortunately, in today's world of the sound bite, it is one which is rarely taken.
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