Recently I was reading this article by Jenni Monet for CNN about some of the different issues surrounding Native Americans portrayal that have been making headlines, probably some that you’ve noticed. From Karlie Kloss in an offensive “Native American-style headdress” on the Victoria’s Secret runway to the video “Looking Hot” by No Doubt, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the way that Native Americans are represented and discussed in our culture. As the article cites, many people felt that these incidents shouldn’t have been perceived as offensive. Yet there is a more systemic problem that underlies these responses.
Earlier this semester I went down to Virginia Tech to visit some friends of mine and take in the downtown scene. While I was there I witnessed two fights. The first night was a pretty heated fight between two men and after a brief tussle, one of the men hit the other man over the head with a glass bottle. Needless to say he was pretty much down for the count and after the police got to them, I’m sure they were out of the downtown scene for a while. What was noteworthy wasn’t the fight, but the reactions of the crowd and the people around me….
Today for our Feminist Roots feature, I have interviewed someone I believe I know fairly well, myself. So hold on tight and get ready for a pretty darn exciting interview.
If someone asked me when I became a feminist, I don’t think I’d be able to give them a straight answer. I couldn’t pinpoint a precise moment in time, a scenario or an event that made me decide to identify as a feminist. However, I do think that my upbringing had a lot to do with it. I have three brothers, one older, two younger and, as one might imagine, I grew quite the “tomboy” if you will. I ran around cow fields, played army men, dinosaurs, laser tag. I wrestled and built forts and overall, was rough and tumble and ready to go play with the boys at any time. I played with girls as well of course but I think that I still had a unique experience. I was a lot more rough and tumble than my girl friends for the most part and I wasn’t conscious that there was an invisible dividing line between things girls did and things boys did. But I’ll never forget when I learned that line existed. My brother entered middle school and like most people, it was like a switch was flipped and he became a somewhat different person. He told me I couldn’t play with him and his friends anymore, that they were doing “boy” things.
Think of some of the most popular and influential women in celebrity universe today, and probably Taylor Swift comes to mind. While I personally can’t stand the woman, I do have to give her props for working so hard and using super clever marketing and advertising techniques to make herself critical to the tween, teen world of music consumption. After all, if someone’s not singing about a broken heart or not belonging to a popular clique at school, then who do teenage girls look to as a role model?? While I’m not a saint and I was there once (so I get this whole singing about journal entries I wrote when I was thirteen thing) I now have one more reason to dislike Taylor Swift. She can’t even define feminism.
Check this out, when asked if she was a feminist by Newsweek, Swift, replied that “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Couple problems right off the bat…
So I have this fear of zombies, which I know isn’t really unusual since they’re super freaky but if you knew me personally, you would know that I typically don’t fear things like zombies. I mean come on, they’re dead people who for some very unexplainable reason ( I mean really now, I still have no idea how this happens and I’ve done some research) pop back up again and decide “I WANT TO FREAKING EAT SOME PEOPLE ALIVE!” Really, no good reason at all….
But anyways, so in a perfectly logical move, I decided to start watching The Walking Dead with my boyfriend. Yeah, I know. This girl’s a smart one. The first episode, I made it about fifteen minutes in before I started hyperventilating and we had to turn it off. However, through a sheer act of willpower ( and curiosity, a lot of curiosity) I have made it all the way to SEASON THREE. WHAT. UP. And of course, since that has consumed a lot of my time, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it and analyze it from a feminist perspective. And I’m pretty happy.
So it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as I’m sure everyone has no doubt noticed by now. In case you hadn’t though, the insane amount of pink products would probably have helped to tip you off. Seriously, so.many. pink. products. Which is of course the perfect transition for me to talk about an issue that I tend to have with the breast cancer movement. But let me preface with a few fun disclaimers since it far too easy for everything that follows to be misconstrued…..
I am absolutely opposed to cancer and I absolutely 100% support and stand behind everyone who has been affected by this terrible disease. 100%. I absolutely think that a cure should be found and this girl will run miles with the best of them to help raise money ( well actually it might end up more walking but still…)
Recently I read an article from jezebel.com that brought on a pretty big “DUH” moment for me. In This article, Erin Heatherton, a Victoria’s Secret was being interviewed and someone asked her how she felt about Photoshop and what impact that has had on her. Her response was this, “”I think it’s people’s own prerogative to be able to look at something and know the difference between ‘this is what someone looks like with makeup on’ and ‘this is what they look like in real life.’ This is what happens when you do a photo shoot; retouching is an essential part of our job, you know. We’re not selling reality; we’re selling a story. It’s all about creating this fantasy. And I don’t think people should confuse fantasy and reality because no one is perfect–we all know that, and I think people should embrace themselves and not really focus on where people are depicted as perfect and where they’re not.” (Cited from jezebel)
One of my friends recently became interested in feminism and has actually begun taking women’s studies classes and a lot of that is due to a lovely book that I had to pick up too. “The Chalice and The Blade” by Riane Eisler is not a new book nor it is necessarily an easy read. It was published in 1987 and tends to be of a more scholarly nature by no means discredits this book. In fact, this is my new fun read, although granted, I’m a pretty big nerd.
Passion and anger. Too often one can equate the other. Feeling passionate is awesome. It’s important; in fact, I would even argue that, for feminists, it is essential. Yet passion, I believe, not only has a proper time and place, but can also be used to either further, or damage, a cause.
”Feminists are ANGRY.” It’s a frustrating stereotype. Why are they angry? What are they angry about? “Men of course”. I get so tired of hearing this stereotype. I sometimes feel that when I say, “I’m a feminist”, people just hear, “I’m angry.” They expect me to rage, or frown, they act confused when I’m calm in discussions, or when I ask them what they think. I grow two heads when I ask them to explain to me their problems with feminism or feminists. And far too often I hear that feminists are too abrasive, too angry, and too unapproachable for them to relate to.