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From the voice that asked you to Eat Me Out, I’m Dani Pinkus, and this is the final edition of my column, Girl on Girl.
What started out as feminism 101 became an outlet for dispelling negative self-reflection like the “basic bitch” phenomena and how to assert and celebrate female sexuality. My articles discussed everything from how safe can be sexy, to telling stories of women in the workplace, all the way down to the presidential election and the subsequent women’s march. Throughout, I hope you also considered my vagina, why it matters, and how to properly stimulate it in the midst of finals.
For your final finals-week distraction and the capstone piece of my raunchy repertoire, I present the climax and the come down, the 35th and final Girl on Girl.
Feminism has long been the dirtiest F-word. The one that men and women alike shy away from to not be associated with a radical push for the matriarchy. Now here is the funny thing about feminism: many intelligible, kind people will reject this label, and by doing so simultaneously revealing themselves a sexist. There really is no in between. For the last time, allow me to break it down.
We are currently in a patriarchy: a male governed and dominated society that pushes women aside and keeps them down to preserve this historic order. A lot of guys don’t want to be responsible for this history, because really it just makes them look like a douche. But at the same time, many men will distance themselves from the word “feminist.” They are afraid of a matriarchy.
Now, matriarchy is just as problematic because all it would change is the sex of the oppressor. If that is your version of feminism, my friend, you have got it all wrong.
There is simply no denying the oppression of women on a global level, varying by cultural practice. In the U.S., it should not be a secret that the wage gap is indeed a very real issue, paying women between 20 to 50 percent less than what men earn in the same position. That is not random. This results from the systematic oppressions that keep women less educated, to reject their opportunities, to insist they stay sandwich-making in the kitchen. All while rejecting their protection from pussy-grabbing monsters.
If that sounds good to you, if keeping women out of the workplace and in the home brings a genuine smile to your face, then sure, you are not a feminist. In fact, you are most certainly sexist. So before you go calling yourself one or the other, or choose to reject both, understand that this scale is actually quite simple.
But the patriarchy is not a single issue, it is packed with flaws outside of women and within itself. This system has made many men feel that if they are not getting an education, graduating from the business school, headed to their reach master’s program or PhD, they have failed. That if the food on the dinner table doesn’t have enough leftovers, if their car’s engine isn’t as loud as his neighbor’s, and if he can’t make his wife scream, he has failed. (I’ll get back to that last point in a moment.) There is an impossible standard that dictates what makes a boy a man. Our patriarchal society fails not only women, but it greatly fails men too.
Whatever a man is, though, a woman is not. So for all the pressure and success that men are supposed to persevere through and beat, women should do only the opposite. Be fragile, don’t be tough. Be pretty, don’t be buff. Be loving, but not too emotional. Be sexy, but don’t be a slut. The list goes on, and you’ve heard it all before. But you are kidding yourself if you can’t see that all of this is product of patriarchy.
I don’t for a second want to discount the trouble of being a man. But at the same time, this expansive issue cannot overshadow the woman problem.
So duh I believe in human rights, why do I have to be a feminist? Why can’t I be a humanist?
I hear this a lot, and it makes me feel sick every time. If you were this “humanist” of which you speak, you would be proud to identify as feminist.
Why the fem? Doesn’t that make it just about women?
Funny you should ask. Some follow up questions for you: What’s going on with the freshmen now that I’m graduating? What do you think, guys? Hurry, we’ll be late to history class! Catch my drift?
Very sadly for men and half-asleep women that refuse “feminist” because of its evil notion of femininity in its spelling, this movement was not meant to make you feel comfortable. You heard me right, this movement for safe spaces is not made for your sexist tears. Sad.
I can’t walk home alone after it’s barely dark. I can’t wear a hemline above my fingertips. I can’t wear a pushup bra. I can’t defend myself. But I have to listen to your cat calling, to your sexualization of my body, to your rejection of my job application for appearing unprofessional and being constantly subject to sexual assault and rape. That is why I need feminism. That is why you need feminism — that is, if your life and the lives of others matter to you.
My friends that do not identify as straight risk being called a faggot every time they walk out the door, among other hate crimes. My friends of color will work at least twice as hard to be handed what you are by default. My friends of color are in jail for being in possession of marijuana while white people light up on 4/20. My friends of limited ability will be gawked at in public spaces, because they are different from the world we set them up to fail in.
Tell me again, please, how the word “feminism” makes you uncomfortable.
It might take some time to wrap your noggin around it, and just when you think you have, the layers of feminism pile even higher. Everyone’s entrance into this stuff is different. And once you’re in, there really is no one way to express your feminism. You will cling to different aspects all moving towards the common goal of political, social and economic justice for all — not just white men.
For me, I was very lucky to receive an introduction in high school with classes on media representations of women and what feminism does to combat those stigmas. In college, I had high social hopes of being involved in Greek life and doing that whole thing. Personally, I found I could not be both — a sorority sister and a feminist. The two clashed for me, but that definitely doesn’t mean that they have to. My brief experience in Greek life only connected me to my feminist identity tenfold. And after dropping, I quickly declared my English and creative writing major with a women and gender studies minor.
The more I learned about feminism the more I saw the deeply rooted flaws in the white-girl version of it. Over the years I have realized the recent sentiment of Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association in New York and Muslim-American activist, that she shared at the Women’s March: “If you are in a movement and you are not following a woman of color, you are in the wrong movement.” White women freak out about this, feeling that it alienates them from an essential line of work. But the fact is, white women are starting at the top of the ladder for feminist change. And once our worries are dealt with — worries that could have already been addressed if white women shared any degree of camaraderie and political action — the men on top would call it a day, feeling that their women were taken care of and finally ready to shut up.
As a white woman, this was hard to get behind. It’s really shitty to realize your poor placement in a movement that matters to you. But what is often seen as negative towards white women in a movement that more deeply affects women of color, is the opportunity to build a bridge instead of going home in bitterness. White women have the responsibility to speak to each other, to speak to women unlike their self, to educated themselves and be proactive in a movement that will not do this work for you. Understand your place of privilege in a movement against what oppresses you, and alleviate that pain by working for the pain of others. This needs all of us. Including white women, but without discarding our sisters that do not share in our same privilege.
Attending a largely white-washed university, my column aimed to produce a familiar voice that reached the feminist rejects into realizing their open invitation. I am not unlike the white-girl feminists that reap the benefits of white supremacy all while claiming a feminist name. But I am working and will continue to work to engage in an intersectional feminist discourse, that includes and respects women of color and voices that differ from my own. I want to contribute to this movement in only positive ways, recognizing my flaws and my part, my credible moments and the times I failed to address women outside myself.
An immediate goal of this column is to encourage people like me to realize their part in the feminist movement, and then choose to get involved where it feels right for them. If that is providing a safe space by welcoming others, making one another feel beautiful, using a condom, learning your rights and where they fail to hold up, or speaking up and out for what you know is true, I think we’ve made even a small step forward in feminist work.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my passion and proud feminist identity. I am so grateful to have found an outlet to discuss these issues, and even more so for those of you who have engaged in conversations with me beyond the page. I have learned so much by listening to others, from those like me to unlike me, my parents and my sisters, my incredible friends and fantastic, inspiring professors.
This work is never truly over. I hope that my words have encouraged you to dig out some of the dirt in feminism and even claim it for yourself. I hope that you will hear me and be thoughtful of my words. I hope that you will engage in feminism and proudly associate with the movement.
As valiant activist Audre Lorde once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
<3 GIRL ON GIRL ON GIRL ON GIRL <3
Contact CU Independent Assistant Opinion Editor Dani Pinkus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dreampinkus.