Monday, June 15, 2015

Why I am a feminist.

A day late this week, sorry. I spent most of yesterday traveling and was too tired to write a post when I got to my hotel.

So this week's topic is feminism, and I will say right upfront that I am a feminist from way back. I remember being told in my first radio job that the reason I wasn't given the morning drive news shift permanently was because nobody wanted to hear a woman's voice on the radio in the morning. It sounds ludicrous today, but keep in mind that morning drive (5am to 10am) gets the most listeners, and the disc jockeys who work that shift usually get the best pay. Keeping women out of that daypart sounds like a good way to make sure men get paid more than women, doesn't it?

This comes up because of a post I saw shared on Facebook. The post apparently came originally from Tumblr, so this is third-hand already, and unsourced (the Tumblr post supposedly disappeared). But the short version of the story is that a teenage girl got into a fight with a boy who groped her in the school cafeteria. A bunch of boys made comments about her dress (which was fairly modest, although it showed some cleavage); she yelled at them; one offered to hug her in apology, and then groped her; a shouting match ensued, during which the boundary-challenged hugger employed the usual unsavory epithets; he raised his hand as if to slap her, and she punched him in the nose. Only then did school security move in. They took her to the office -- where she was told she should have just shaken off the comments. It wasn't until a female teacher got involved that the school administration agreed to call the police and report the boy for groping her.

I saw this post not long after my younger daughter told us about an interesting conversation she'd had with a co-worker. The man had complimented her on wearing hose with a skirt, and went on to bemoan the way some girls dress -- because they're "asking for it". She went on to explain to him what was wrong with his attitude (you go, Amy!).

My daughter's response, and the teenaged girl's response, dovetail with mine: Why is it the woman's job to dress modestly in order to keep the man's behavior in line? Why isn't it his job to police his own behavior?

There's been a fair bit of talk lately about rape culture, and the term came up in both of the incidents I cited above. I know there's a faction in America that hates the term. The word "feminism" gets a bad rap these days, too. But think about it: who objects most to those terms? Isn't it the same people who think women should behave so that men don't have to?

These moments of feminist blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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