Saturday, June 19, 2010

Part 4: Response to comments to Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs

Part 4:

First I need to indicate that this blog post is response four (4) of four (4) and is in reference to the comments made to the previous post, “Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs – Answer to blog post question.” If you haven’t already you may want to read the comments to the mentioned post so that this new post makes sense to you.

To Anonymous 4: I believe I addressed why I believe we are the first generation to really live with the benefits of the modern women’s movement in my above statements. Unfortunately, to this day CEOs are still dominated by males and in the professional world we as women still have to figure out how to break the glass ceiling. Although I believe it has moved and the glass is much thinner it’s unfortunately still there. However, the message in today’s media tells most women that by sleeping our way to the top is the most freeing/satisfying, powerful and fastest way to get the “job” done (no pun intended). Maybe we as older and wiser women understand the complications to using our sexuality to get us further in life, but young impressionable women do not understand the distinction and if in their books, their favorite T.V. shows, and in the movies this is the ultimate portrait of women again how do we as women find a more powerful message about celebrating why we are unique as female leaders with unique female management styles. Yes, we do need to teach our young girls about independence and finding their own passions and success because the divorce rate is so high and well let’s face it if the modern message to women is use your looks and body to get what you want unfortunately our looks do eventually fade and not all of us can afford Dr. 90210  (okay sorry for the sarcasm). As I mentioned before 49% of our population is men in this world and no matter how much we say that men will not have any say in our lives and the improvement of this world they will and we need to find a much better way to discuss the balance between men and women and what each can bring to the corporate table, the world table, the volunteer table, the non-profit table, the social-activities table, the Church table, etc.

For my lesbian sisters, we as women need to also figure out better how we celebrate each other and love one another in all of our uniqueness and the gifts each of us as women bring to one another. This world may seem in a big picture to be male/female because that is an easy categorization, but I do believe that as women we beat each other up over minute details and no matter our belief system or our choices in lovers we have a message to bring to this next generation and we cannot let a over sexualized male dominated media world define who we are as women.

To Rachel: Thank you for asking the question and allowing for this conversation to continue and be blogged about. I am glad I was able to clear up what I meant by traditional beliefs. It has taken me a long time and quite a bit of my own soul searching to be able to validate and celebrate with women who are significant in all of their roles no matter if that is “traditional” wife/mother, career woman, lesbian, “non-traditional” wife/mother, etc. I wish too that I could have been in the U.K. to experience the entire event and am glad that you were able to meet Andrew. I think he is a pretty great guy!  I agree with what you wrote with regards to understanding the relationship you are in and the different roles each of you play in order to make the relationship work. I love that you include your young daughter and with regards to Andrew and I we really do have a great partnership as well with very equal say and equal responsibility, we have just agreed that he can be in many parts of our relationship the deliverer of the message. I hope if Andrew is back in the U.K. that I will be able to go with him and we do get a chance to meet. I would also love to meet your whole family!

To Anonymous 5: I don’t even want to take the time to respond. Of course I know that there are many lesbian mothers and families. Andrew and I live in the LGBT neighborhood in Chicago. Again, I was attempting to reference the actual event I was speaking at and the audience which was receiving my message at the time. If you have daughters then I hope we can all as women figure out how to make sure they are beautiful, strong, women who love everything about themselves inside and out. Who understand that we are unique and it’s okay to celebrate in that uniqueness. That we as women can dream as big as we want and accomplish anything we want and it’s okay to celebrate also being a wife and mother. We are all significant in the roles we find ourselves and can change the world around us just by being women.


Rachel said...

Hi there, I tell you, when Andrew is invited here again I'll pay your plane fare - not in any way as a wife-coming-along but because I know when he was here last we worked him pretty hard, and if that was me I'd want my partner with me!

I think you've absolutely got it that women nowadays are restricted and made second-rate because of the emphasis that our value is in our looks and our sexual abilities. I am finding it such a struggle with our daughter - everyday something comes up I feel so uncomfortable about. Today we went to a community event and (I don't know if you have this in the US) there was the crowning of the carnival princess - this always happens at community events here. Then we went to a toddler's birthday party. We decided to dress our daughter in bright trousers and a T-shirt, because I didn't want anyone to approach her by saying, 'You look so pretty.' But there was still no way I could opt her out of being defined by her clothes - because I know other parents would be thinking, 'Poor kid, not allowed to dress up to look pretty.' And the last thing I want is for her to internalise ideas of her looks as at all important to who she is and how others relate to her.

I would never consider being a lesbian separatist - our daughter has two daddies and four grandfathers for a start! For change to happen I am with you guys that we have to be engaged in cultures we find a struggle and be able to enjoy them, find God in them, and question them. But if you or anyone else has ideas how to practically raise a daughter who isn't defined in relation to being a 'princess' I'd love to get stuck into conversation (we have a great group over here called Pink Stinks which is doing some good work!).

Anonymous said...

I am not one to start arguments...or create a rift. I think that if we just be who God created us to be and do what God's indvidual will for our life is...(stay at home mom, manager of a company, dr. exc)then the problem is solved. If people don't except what you are doing, that's fine...there should be joy and fullfillment in knowing you are who God created you to be.

Anonymous said...

For women to come to terms with this, we need to unite across all races and sexual orientations.
We have to understand that most world religions are based on the idea that men are in charge, that they write the sacred texts, and that they keep women from creating the sacred. There is a very long history of women trying to change this.

-Turtle Woman

Anonymous said...

Rachel, good points. I took a look at your blog, so it's interesting to see the next generation of lesbians at work.

There is a key point to all these discussions that needs to be addressed: culture doesn't come out of a vacuum. Somebody resticts women, and focuses exclusive attention on women's "looks" etc. This pressure on young girls to conform to a woman degrading sexual standard is largely the creation of male supremacy and patriarchy, and this is nothing new.

Feminism is not new, the struggle of women to free themselvews of brutal domination is not new.

None of it is. So we have to name the agends of this "culture" and find out exactly who is behind it.

There is a term among men who pimp women and it is called "seasoning"-- it's training a girl to accept sexual slavery and to become a prostituts. Men train girls and women to be this, and if you look at the big picture, I think you'll see who benefits from this system of objectification of girls. It's a pretty sick system.

Women, being the ultimate whistle blowers in so many ways, have got to name the agents of this system.

It's pretty easy for lesbians to do this, because we see the system in all its horrifying clarity. Straight women tend to be in denial about who is doing this to girls, who is buying the prostitutes and who is creating the woman objectifying "fashions."
It is important to name names and devise a strategy of disrupting the colonization of young girls with this sickness.

A lot of women these days are afraid to name WHO the agents are and just what the system is. To not name, is to allow it to continue.

Feminism is not a go along to get along philosophy. It is about the very freedom of women and girls worldwide. I'd say it is the most profound human rights movement of all time, bar none.
-Turtle Woman

Rachel said...

Anonymous - that's exactly how it would be if there hadn't been the Fall! All of us able to be exactly who God intended us to be. Sadly, we live in the fallen world, and women are stopped from being who they should by the oppressive structures around us. I think as Christians we have a duty to question and challenge those structures and to stand up against them as evil.

Turtle woman - thank you for taking my questions and replying! I wonder: I love the phrase 'There's nothing as practical as good theory'. Your post gives a lot of theory, but there's nothing obvious that we can do to use that theory and make a change in the world! Any ideas about that practical part, I'd love your thoughts?

Thanks Brenda for starting all this!

Super Spy For Jesus said...

So many great comments going on here!

I want to begin by saying in some ways I am "traditional" in that I am married to a man and have three beautiful children with him.

Two of my three children are girls and I wonder everyday will they be able to grow up and truly embrace who God has meant them to be.

I wish it were that simple. I wish that we could just be whoever God has called us to be and simply celebrate it . Honestly, the issue has little to do with just being ourselves. It is that the world shouts so loudly at us telling us who we should be and we get worn down, so we forget. I think it is also more accurate to say that as women we have a hard time truly celebrating each other. Those of us that feel the weight of the glass ceiling above have a hard time saying to a homeschooling, stay at home mom of 6, "You go girl!" But we should, If we are walking out in who we genuinely are as women- we should allow each other to fully embrace all of the aspects of what that means.

I will give some encouragement on the princess front. My oldest went through the "princess" phase all by herself. We couldn't hold her back from it. For a whole year she refused to wear anything else other than pink. We couldn't wrestle her into another color. Now while others thought this magnificent, I as her Mom cringed a little when others would say, "Isn't she pretty." While there is nothing wrong with that I wanted to say: "But she is funny, and witty and brilliant and caring and compassionate." Her younger sister was a little more naturally brash. She naturally wasn't quite the princess and wouldn't let anyone make her that way.

As my girls have grown older they have started to come into their own. The "princess pink" child now will not come within a 50 mile radius of the color. She would rather be active. However, both of my girls have started to fall in love with who they are on the inside. That is what we reenforced at home. When they would say, "Mommy do I look pretty?" We would say, "Yes, but it is more important that you are kind." We didn't pretend that it didn't matter, because that is dangerous as well. Then your children don't understand why you won't just answer their questions directly. But, we let them know time and again what was important. For us in our household being a reflection of Jesus was most important. So we talked about being kind and compassionate and loving your neighbor as yourself and what exactly that means. They naturally have come to know that is what is important. We let them pick out their own clothes and let them be who they are. My oldest has become more conservative. My youngest will wear shorts and trousers, but boy does that child love neon!

Super Spy For Jesus said...

Unfortunately as my oldest just turned 11 the world is pressing in and she is having a hard time loving her body. So it is time again not to ignore her fears but to address them head on. She is strong and wonderful and lovely and compassionate and caring and so brilliant. Her sister is brash and funny and loves passionately and fiercely. They may grow up to be lawyers or missionaries or president or all of those things. Simply put, don't let your daughter be defined as a princess. Undo the world as they push and prod at them.

In one final statement I have noticed that several have commented about the Bible being written by men. I would like to contest. The Bible was written by God. Some men were used to write it down, but all scripture is God breathed. There are amazing and powerful women in the Bible. Women who stood against evil. Women who stood when men would not. Women who were celebrated for their faith and strength. There are 5 women named in the lineage of Jesus. There are women who showed their faith when men would not. The Bible itself declares that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, male nor female. It is not the Bible that puts women down or creates a wrong place for them. That is people when they read the Bible and decide what it says. Women and men were created to be different. That was meant to be celebrated. From the start of time we were supposed to embrace that we are unique. Different parts to play doesn't mean better, it means different.

Thanks for letting me join in!-

Brenda S. Marin said...

Wow thank you all for commenting and starting this great conversation. I must admit Rachel I wanted so bad to give some type of advice, but as I am on my own journey struggling with infertility, Andrew and I do not have children and I didn’t have experienced answers or thoughts. Although, I have seen all around me within the youth groups The Marin Foundation speaks to and the women I spoke with at the conference how much confusion, pain, mis-messages, and focus on body image is so prevalent within today's society and especially toward young girls. If/when I have a child and its a little girl I hope all on this blog who have commented and read it will be able to give me some advice one day.

Leneita - thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope it is helpful to all. I also appreciate your comments about God being the writer of the Bible as It is the inherent word of God!!!

Turtle Women - I don't truly understand where you are coming from, but I want to show respect that your comments are welcome, just know that I do not have to agree. From that I want to say I was a bit taken back when you inferred that "straight" women don't understand the world around us and try to make excuses for the horrible things happening to girls. You grouped myself and other "straight" women into the same category as your male hating and bashing thoughts. I want to make it very clear to you and others that "straight" women are just as aware, do not make excuses, know exactly who is behind, the terrible things done to women and young girls, and are working alongside the very good men, lesbian, and "straight" women who are fighting to stop the trafficking, pimping, prostituting, over sexualizing, and demeaning nature of society on women and young girls.

Please note that one must follow the money train for trafficking and when one does it is sad that in many cases women are also the "pimps" helping to "season" these young girls. This does not only center around evil men it is centered around evil people who are greedy and found a disgusting and profitable market to exploit this world's desire to have sex with young girls and boys. I do agree that as women we need to constantly be the whistle blowers on the injustices of this world toward women and young girls.

Anonymous said...

Kind of a lot of things to address here. First of all, I am not a fundamentalist, and believe men really did write the bible, and that they are certainly not god. They had godly inspiration but were very much trapped in a patriarchal culture, so they have an androcentric bias in just about everything they write.
Jesus' life was very opposed to the religious authorities of his day; men who wanted to oppress and continue to oppress women.
Second, in the trafficking trade in girls, it is very much a male controled industry worldwide, and pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry, and men make huge profits off the bodies of women. So we need to be clear who is doing the majority of the work, and who controls the advertising and porn culture. If you follow what feminist groups have been doing for decades now in the anti-porn work they are documenting, you will see what this is really about.
Painful as it is, violent porn, and worldwide prostitution are very much about a kind of slave trade. Every time a man goes to a prostitute, he is buying a woman. Prostitution is fueled by males believing that women are merely objects, and this objectification of women is so massive, I think a lot of women would be shocked at the scale of it all. You'll have to do your own research. I don't know what level of feminist activism or knowledge women have here. -- Turtle Woman

Anonymous said...

And, to answer Rachel's question about how theory becomes reality-- I'll use a simple example. One of my interests is locating lesbians throughout history. I want to know about the women of the past, the women who pioneered in fields like math and science, as well as women who formed relationships in times even before women could vote.

In other words, I want access to a non-heteronormative world, where women loved each other, and also, I want to find out what intellectual power they brought to the world.

I have a theory that if you encounter a woman born in say 1896, and she never married or had children, and that she was active in founding women's organizations, settlement houses or social justice movements, chances are, she might be a lesbian. This will be buried of course, because lesbian academic research is relatively new in the academic world. Nevertheless, it is important for all lesbians to know where they are, what they did, and how much impact they had on the larger culture. You have to see into a secretive world to uncover the truth about women who were independent of men, who carved out careers at a time when women had no civil rights at all. Take a theory, find your past, be proud of a great heritage :-)--Turtle Woman

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question: why is it when feminists hold men accoundable for their crimes against women worldwide, that this is called male bashing? I've never gotten that. Feminism is about telling the truth about women's lives, and it is about identifying who exactly is pornifying the culture, or creating the woman hating images to begin with. Who controls the vast majority of the wealth generated from prostitution, for example? Who rapes whom? And why?
If we don't force the issue and point out that rape is done mostly by men to women and girls, and that our culture supports rape, we'll never know how to stop it.
If we don't know the extent to which men bash women's brains out in so-called "marital relationships" we won't know how to put a stop to this. If men aren't held accountable and told that they are responsible for the huge increase in porn worldwide, or that they are the vast majority of the rapists worldwide, we won't get at the truth. When feminists do this, they are called male bashing, but we need to look at who the real bashers, rapists and pornographers are. We need to know who created early porn, and what institutions perpetuate these crimes. We need to know who runs corporations, and who underpays women. There is a system to all of this, and it is male supremacy. It is patriarchy, and it is the belief that men are superior to women, and that women are second class citizens at birth.
It is not about individual people, it is about a system that is created and maintained by men, and it is a system most women have learned to accomodate. I can't put it more bluntly than that. I hold men accountable for the attrocities they commit worldwide, the war, the rape, the destruction of the environment. Women go along with this system, but they didn't invent it. --Turtle Woman

Rachel said...

Brenda - I was hesitant about the insensitivity of posting about my concerns about our child when your blog so clearly details some of your pain about not having a child yourself. Thank you for your generosity in allowing me to write about it, when my questions about bringing up girls make assumptions which I imagine are painful for you to read.

I don't think that only people who are parents have a right to a view on this - people who at the moment don't have children for whatever reason may have much better insights than others.

Lenieta - I love your story! I am already using some of your ideas - on Saturday, someone came up and chatted to my daughter, and a friend I was with said to her afterwards, 'It was because you're wearing such a fine hat.' I felt able to say, 'Well, your hat is very fine, but it was because you looked friendly and interesting.' I felt nicely empowered!

Turtlewoman - lots of interesting ideas. I think it's important to acknowledge the strengths but also the weaknesses of talking about groups of people in a stereotyped way. On a plus side, it allows us to talk about structural oppression. But on a minus side, it becomes blind to people who don't fit - for example, any men who are also feminists; and conversely lesbians who abuse and oppress women. I think unless we look at the people who sit outside the stereotypes of their group, we're powerless - for example, without acknowledging that men are feminists even while some are oppressors, we're missing out on a great resource for change.