Why Women Aren’t Crazy
You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!
If you’re a woman, it probably does.
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.
And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.
Full Story: The Good Men Project: Why Women Aren’t Crazy
Why I Resigned from The Good Men Project
One day, Kevin came to class with a duffle bag. I thought little of it, until – in the midst of a discussion about men and feminism – he reached into the duffle and pulled out a football helmet. “I know I’m gonna get killed for what I’m about to say”, he announced dramatically; “I brought some protection.” Kevin then strapped the helmet on as his classmates and I stared in shock. I told him to cut out the cheap theatrics, but not before he’d made a powerful point, though I’m confident it wasn’t the one he intended to make.
Kevin’s gag with the football helmet was designed to send a signal about women and anger. The message he wanted to send was, as he told me later, that “feminists take things too seriously and get too aggressive.” The message he actually sent was that men will go to great lengths to try and short-circuit women’s attempts at serious conversation. The helmet was an effort to label those attempts as “male-bashing” or “man-hating.” The hope was that it would shame uppity feminists into biting back their anger; of course, Kevin only ended up inflaming the situation. In less dramatic ways, I’ve seen men use this same tactic again and again.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Feminism But Were Afraid to Ask
Although we can all agree on the most basic dictionary definition of feminism (the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes), it is rarely ever that simple or straightforward. Despite 150 years of activism in pursuit of women’s rights, and nearly 40 years of modern feminism, “feminism” is still considered by many to be a dirty word. In the mainstream media, when feminism is discussed at all, it’s most often talked about in negative or pessimistic terms: Time’s “Is Feminism Dead?” cover stories; the recent series of New York Times articles detailing how feminism has “failed” because upper-middle-class white women are still struggling with the work/family dilemma; any number of hand-wringing articles about why young women aren’t embracing the label; and so forth. Movie and tv starlets who portray assertive, confident, feminist-leaning characters routinely reject the word—Sarah Michelle Gellar, Drew Barrymore, I’m lookin’ at you—as do female musicians whose work is infused with gender play (Polly Jean Harvey, Patti Smith, Bjork). It’s not that these women aren’t into equality: It’s because they, like many people, are afraid of what the word implies to the rest of the world. Like the current slanderous usage of “liberal,” “feminist” has long been wielded as an epithet—hence many women’s discomfort in adopting it.
You wouldn’t know it from the blanket terms used to talk about feminism, but the movement’s rich history (and current practice) encompasses a slew of ideologies, offshoots, and internal disagreements: radical feminism, cultural feminism, liberal feminism, antiporn feminism, pro-sex feminism, third-wave feminism, womanism—but what does it all mean? A brief primer on the etiology of feminism is sorely needed. The following is hardly exhaustive, and only barely objective, and I must mention that many of the nuances and linguistic turns are still up for debate by and among feminists. So leave your preconceptions behind and join me in this exciting exploration of one of life’s most basic urges: feminism.
Fucking and Feminism
There’s a world of difference between being branded a sex object and choosing to be one under certain circumstances. Recall Tad Friend’s classic 1994 “do-me feminism” Esquire article, in which Lisa Palac said, “Degrade me when I ask you to” (emphasis mine). Women’s true desires may not make for perfect propaganda, but sex is justifiably complex. I may like to get spanked until I scream, but I still deserve to be treated as an intelligent human being. Submitting sexually doesn’t equal becoming a doormat outside the bedroom.
Full Story: Village Voice: Fucking and Feminism
Rise of Raunch
Ariel Levy’s 2005 book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture argued that, in fact, women themselves were turning to self-objectification in shocking numbers, noting that the signifiers of what she called “raunch culture” — strip aerobics classes, T-shirts printed with the words porn star, Girls Gone Wild, and more — had been adopted by women themselves. But rather than leading to real freedom, women’s adoption of “raunch culture” simply duplicated patterns of disdain for and objectification of women. Levy’s quest to find out how the new sexual liberation differed from early-model sexploitation involved talking to everyone from the HBO executives responsible for the likes of G-String Divas to the producers of Girls Gone Wild to high-school and college women who have felt pressure to make out with other girls in bars “because boys like it.” Ultimately, Female Chauvinist Pigs yielded far more questions than it answered, and the main one was this: If the standards and stereotypes by which girls and women are judged haven’t changed, could it really be called empowerment at all?
Pamela Paul struggled with a similar question in her 2005 book Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families; a year later, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting took it on in Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women. Along with Female Chauvinist Pigs, these books pointed out the distinction that lay at the heart of many feminists’ discomfort with raunch culture: Liking sex and performing sex are two very different things. And as Levy put it, “If we’re going to have sexual role models, it should be the women who enjoy sex the most, not the women who get paid the most to enact it.”