Recently I have developed an interest in feminist discourse and have tried to break down my negative opinions of it to better myself and the discussions I have with feminist friends. I have researched a lot of early feminist work, feminist work within my own discipline of anthropology, and contemporary articles, blogs, and texts that have something to say about feminism. And the more I read, the more I hate it.
The discipline has become a radicalized and close-minded form of its older self, an aggressive variant of a discussion that could have many merits to both men and women. I don’t believe that feminism is poison, I don’t think that the leaders of today’s feminist movements are horrible people or that they don’t have something important to say. But I do think their way of engaging with the general public is not working, and I am angered by the exclusivity of thought. Even as a women, I feel that my thoughts and attempts to stretch the ideas of feminism in discussions with men are completely rejected, because I am either not well-read in feminist theory, or because I am siding with the patriarchy. It feels that the narratives put forward today are not striving for an equality, but putting men and their thoughts down because it can’t fit in with our experiences as women. It is exactly this sort of thinking that is limiting and completely unacceptable - in both academic and every-day circles.
My view on these limitations is not limited to strictly the feminist discipline. As a new masters student, I have recently undergone a huge paradigm shift in how I think about the separation of studies into these sorts of labels. To put this into perspective, bear with me while I explain the background of this: I have always prided myself in being an empirical scientist, believed that the answers to human evolution and to many other questions were embedded in genetics, and that we could observe the truth through an objective analysis. I now believe that this is complete bullshit. I still value genetic analysis, but I have come to realize that the scientific approach is a subjective, culturally biased experience that has been strengthened by prosthetic technologies; the reliance on quantitative data is not objective, our own human agency (and pride) can lead us to tweak the numbers to suit our hypotheses. Science is flawed, and our ability to use it when answering a research question would only be bolstered by looking at the social sciences, the arts, and what ever other realms of academia may intrigue and aid us.
I would argue that academic thought is going to undergo a similar paradigm shift within the next few decades. Science has been on the forefront of research initiatives in the West for a great long time, and this must change. I understand its importance, but it is being manipulated by corporations and industries that seek to validate their own existence instead of promoting the growth of human knowledge. To counteract this, we can be more reflexive as scientists and incorporate discourses that aren’t familiar to us - challenge ourselves to see our own cultural baggage and break down the barriers between science, psychology, anthropology, English, sociology, and so forth. Work together to create a deepened understanding of what it means to be human, or whatever specific question you have in mind.
What does this have to do with feminism? I think that the radicalization of the discipline in recent years is in complete opposition to the way academic thought is beginning to travel towards. I challenge feminists to accept their limitations and seek to understand and participate in other discussions. I challenge feminists to listen to men for more than a minute before completely shutting them out of the conversation. I challenge every student reading this to break down their academic barriers and pick up a book from a realm of literature that doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Let’s work on holistic conclusions that are explicitly inclusive and self-aware - regardless of our own contextual backgrounds. Thank you for listening.
the pounding crimson
rushes like a dive
beats on until every river is flooded
every noise is flushed
every pore drips salt
your fists bite within pockets
lull until newborn, unknown
beast you become
clear as a blade
your will never locked eyes -
smash and crumble
absolve until dust
though never undo
toes trickle in aftermath
as if great societies never stood
and all was always rubble and bone
i was under the impression that backpacking through europe was something you did off the grid, only popping your head up when you managed to crawl into an internet cafe for a couple of hours.
i don’t want to see twitter updates of every single cafe you’ve been to today. there are a lot of cafes in europe.
females: consoling, empowering, empathetic
males: a huge kick in the ass.
not sure how i feel about this realization, especially in how it contributes to ongoing gender roles and social norms…
not to sound snooty, but it has come to my attention that, being 21 and from a small town, it is apparently time for all the locals to expose their plumage and attract mates. it has apparently been quite successful for many candidates, as over this past weekend at least three couples have gotten engaged. while i am not in any way doubting the sincerity of the love shared between these couples (*), i am absolutely irritated by the amount of facebook activity surrounding it.
sure, i could just not go on facebook, or change my settings. it’s not that i’m grumbling about consistently loading the social network site’s page to find new, shiny rings and feeling petty and jealous. it’s that it appears as though many people see these sorts of announcements as "social musts" to which every good couple should adhere to. i am concerned that many young people have become so inextricable from their digital image that the supposedly intimate, exciting events of their lives have to be captured by a hired photographer that will trek bravely through wildeberries just to capture that first, exact instant in which the male engages in the ritual knee bending and ring extracting.
correct me if i’m wrong, but it feels like no event in our lives is able to be experienced without some intense online notification about it, and i find it quite appalling. in my personal life, i have recently received the fantastic news that i will not have to deal with a cross-country relationship with my manfriend, as he is going to be travelling with me. this is something that brings me so much happiness that i start to tear up about it, and the thought of posting such news on facebook as a “life event” completely baffles me. at what point did we stop cherishing the privacy of our intimate connections with other humans? i love that i don’t know what my manfriend had for supper tonight, that i’m not sure when exactly i will see my out-of-city friends but know that when i do there will be many stories of galavants traded over a pint. i love that i can’t predict my life, or know the path of other people around me, and that if they wish to share some personal experience or belief with me, face to face, it will be a unique moment in time that hasn’t been tarnished and lost its meaning in the ever-flowing social media stream.
* i realize this wording could also be used in polygamous or polyamorous love, but i find that amusing, and so it will be left as such.